How to Hire the Best Candidate for Your Open Position

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you having trouble hiring the kind of person you really want for an open position? In these economic boom times, employers are fortunate if they get a handful of applications. If you’re like many hiring managers and are in a hurry to make an offer, you might make a mistake that could cost you a potentially awesome candidate.

Lauren Rivera, at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, led a team of fellow faculty members through some hiring process research. Rivera’s work reveals the kinds of problems that trip up managers in their search for the best talent they can find.

Removing Bias

We’re all familiar with how the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” can give candidates an advantage. Hiring managers are definitely biased toward filling an open position with someone they know. If they don’t know the person, they at least want to feel comfortable with them. That means they’re happier with candidates who went to the same school with them. They want a “personal connection” with an applicant. This bias causes them to overlook another perfectly qualified candidate. This practice also means the interviewer might decide to skip a formal assessment. That's because they think they understand the “personal connection” candidate so well.

Diverse Applicant Pool

Hiring managers may not consciously have a bias toward candidates who are veterans. However, they often don’t go out of their way to hire these applicants. Managers may incorrectly assume that some applicants with military service records are too rigid, especially if they worked in supervisory positions. Employers may also worry that veterans are unable to think for themselves after they've spent years following orders. 

The truth is that many veterans receive exceptional training at an early age. Col. Dan Friend, who was a U.S. Army Chief of Staff Senior Fellow at Kellogg, notes that military vets bring plenty to the table. They often assume command of others at an early age. Further, research shows “CEOs with a military background were up to 70 percent less likely to engage in corporate fraud compared to their civilian-​only peers.”

You may prefer to 'go with your gut' when considering who to make an offer to. That's when your biases come into play. To maintain objectivity and find the best person for the position and the organization, ask every candidate to take an assessment. The information from these hiring tools, along with related data like their performance on tests that you give them, will help you make the best decision possible.