We are all biased, it is simply how we are wired no matter what people believe. Our brains have the innate ability to categorize – a distinct survival mechanism for sure. This ability becomes problematic in the hiring process as hiring managers can often be influenced by their own biases when making hiring decisions. To be blunt, hiring managers are prewired to clone themselves in their hires.
So what of this? Does it matter? If your hiring manager is strong, especially a sales manager, wouldn’t it be best to clone them?
No. End of post…ok, I won’t be so short. The key to successful hiring, especially as it pertains to sales hiring, is to maintain objectivity for as long as possible in your process. This is part of the process we teach to companies as they move to improve and strengthen their sales hiring results. The key to objectivity is that it trumps bias. It provides a rational, unemotional view of a candidate before our natural biases and intuition can start forming our decision.
Some thoughts on how to improve the objectivity in your process:
- Your first contact with the candidate should be a phone interview. The phone is a natural barrier that removes visual biases. When done correctly, you would be shocked at how much you can learn about a candidate during a 30 min. phone call.
- Secondly, use an online assessment to “x-ray” the candidates communication style, motivations, aptitudes, skills, etc. This is self-serving, but it may be the most critical step in the process. The computer is unbiased to a fault. The information provides a look into the candidate’s abilities in a way that is next to impossible to deceive. The right tools can provide more information about an external candidate than you probably know about your current team!
- Lastly, use a team approach to the first interview – more people, more viewpoints, less bias. I am a strong proponent of team interviews, especially in the sales world. Each person on the hiring side of the table will have a slightly different take on the candidate and their responses, fit, approach, etc. This is valuable as the team can debrief after each initial interview. The secondary benefit is that it puts pressure on the candidate. The candidates that handle this pressure and excel are noteworthy and memorable. They are the ones to give strong consideration to for moving forward in your process.
If you incorporate those 3 concepts into your hiring process, I guarantee you will improve your objectivity immensely. The increased objectivity will lead to stronger hires with far fewer misalignments on your growing team.