Cognitive Distortions in the Evaluation of Interview Candidates

Cognitive distortions in the evaluation of interview candidates
To begin with, let's define what it is.
Cognitive errors (or cognitive distortions) are systematic mistakes that we make due to the peculiarities of our thinking and perception, leading to an illogical interpretation of the surrounding reality.
Most often they appear when we are in situations in which:
  • There is too much information.
  • Not enough meaning (ambiguity).
  • The need to act quickly.
  • It is necessary to filter a lot of information for memorization (the brain always prefers to remember a simpler and clearer concept, rather than a complex and ambiguous one).

All these points can be attributed to the interview in one way or another. In an hour (limited time), it is important for us to evaluate the work experience, motivation, hard and soft skills of a person we see for the first time in our life.
Here are examples of the most common cognitive distortions in interviews:

  • Gambler's mistake: The bottom line is, we tend to believe that the events of the past determine the outcome of the future. For example, when a candidate talks about a mistake made at a previous place of work, you can make the wrong decision that he did not take out a useful experience from a negative case and will also make mistakes in a new company. It is easy to get around this cognitive distortion - use questions not only about past experience, but also projective questions - this will help to understand how the candidate thinks at the moment.

  • Halo effect: this is the compilation of a superficial or hasty judgment about the personality of another, based on the first impression or on the most expressive character trait. For example, before the interview, you will find out that one applicant has a diploma from a prestigious educational institution, and another has an ordinary one, then a biased attitude may already arise. Or a candidate from a large company (interesting to you) is given preferences in advance and an interview is conducted with this attitude. The solution is to evaluate real skills, not individual lines in the resume.

  • The effect of beauty: more positive traits are attributed to an outwardly more attractive person. This effect is very logically transferred from our daily life, so it is always important to understand at the interview that first of all we evaluate the competencies of the future employee that will help him successfully complete his tasks. Let's agree - you don't meet by clothes, but you see off by mind.

  • Projection effect: We tend to think that others have the same qualities as us. For example, hiring managers sometimes expect that the candidate is motivated by the same factors as them. For example, new tasks and horizontal growth. And when in reality it turns out that income and vertical growth are important for a candidate, this may be perceived in advance as something strange. You just need to remember that we are all different, then it will be very easy to cope with this distortion! :)

  • Fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency of a person to explain the actions and behavior of other people by their personal characteristics, and their merits and mistakes by external circumstances that could not be influenced. Example: the candidate was late for your interview. Who is he? An irresponsible, not motivated, unconscious person. Did the same situation happen to you? They were detained at a meeting, an important issue was discussed, it's okay, anything can happen. It seems to us that other people's mistakes are always more obvious than our own.

In fact, there are several dozen effects and the topic seems inexhaustible for discussion. But if you know about them, then you can fight them!