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How to Make Better Hiring Decisions


How to Make Better Hiring Decisions

In this evergreen article published in Harvard Business Review, Ben Dattner shares an article and scorecard designed to help you overcome unconscious bias and make better hiring decisions. Scorecard template included.

Given that most organizations spend roughly 70% of their operating budgets on workforce expenses, it is noteworthy how rare it is for organizations to measure the success of hiring managers in their ability to select the right candidates. It is also rare for individuals to hold themselves accountable for becoming better interviewers over time. By using a quantitative interview scorecard to evaluate the qualifications and suitability of job candidates, and by comparing interview-based predictions with subsequent performance on the job, it’s possible to boost your interview hit rate and your organization’s return on human capital investment over time.

Let’s start by evaluating why most companies and individuals make less than stellar investments in human capital, particularly when using interviews to evaluate candidates. People are biased, emotional, and inconsistent when interviewing and as a result, decades of industrial psychology research has found, the validity or predictive power of a typical unstructured job interview is around 20%, meaning that only one in five interviews increases the baseline odds that a hired candidate will be successful.

Unconscious, implicit associations or stereotypes create a problematic, non-level playing field for job seekers. The solution, according to some academics and practitioners, is to make people aware of their biases so that they are able to make more “objective” determinations about job applicant suitability. Asking all candidates a standard set of good interview questions can also boost the accuracy of the hiring process.

However, when it comes to interviewing, many of us have biases that cause us to not even realize how biased we are. When a candidate ends up being successful, many people in the organization believe and claim that they spotted her or his talent early on. And when a candidate does not succeed, suddenly it seems that the candidate was hired despite widespread doubts. To paraphrase an oft-repeated saying, success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Selective memory therefore makes it hard for us to accurately recall our impressions of candidates at the time we interviewed them, which in turn makes it hard for us to learn about our biases and to have an accurate assessment of how skilled we are as interviewers.


Key points include:

  • Detection theory
  • False positives
  • Pattern recognition

Read the full article, A Scorecard for Making Better Hiring Decisions, on