There are two candidates you will have to interview today.
First candidate shows up in very neat and clean clothes. He wears perfume with a nice fragrance and a pair of glasses that gives him the look of someone competent and trusted. When handing over his resume, his gestures represent the gesture of a successful person. Not to mention, his resume looks good for the position.
Meanwhile, the second candidate shows up in a rather messy attire without a suit or a pair of shiny shoes. However, he manages to hand in his resume in a good manner. All in all, he looks like a qualified candidate with good experiences and skills equal to the first candidate.
Which one would you hire after reading the description above? If your answer is the first one because he seems perfect in terms of physical appearance and attitude, you might have fallen into the Halo Effect trap.
According to Dr. Pragya Agarwal, Halo Effect is a bias in ratings which arise from a tendency influenced in a rating of specific traits by a general impression of a person being rated. Also referred to as Halo Error, Halo Effect is when an individual upholds or idolises positive impressions of a person, company, brand, or product in one area to positively influence one’s opinion or feelings in other areas. It is a type of cognitive bias to make recruiter or employer fall in love in the first sight, thus, ignoring negative traits of a candidate.
For example, when hiring manager notices a candidate in his resume is attractive and in-person is well-groomed and properly attired, the said candidate is considered as a good person based upon the rules of the hiring manager’s social concept. This content error in judgement is reflective of the hiring manager’s preferences, prejudice, ideology, aspirations, and social perception.
In a fine term, Halo Effect could blind employer from seeing the overall rating of a candidate because they only believe the positive traits while ignoring the negative behaviour.
When an employer constantly halo candidates in their recruitment process, the company can suffer from a higher cost of recruitment and a higher turnover rate.
Center for Talent Innovation’s research found that implicit bias including Halo Effect affects company performance at its core. For instance, employees who perceive bias are nearly three times as likely to be disengaged. Disengagement can cost a company up to US$550 billion per year. Halo Error does impact retention as well, with 31 percent of respondents said they are planning to leave their current jobs within the year.
As Halo Effect can cost a company a mountain, avoiding it is the best way to bring the right candidates to join the team. Likewise, hiring without the Halo Effect will give a positive result to work performance that will increase the return on investment of an organisation. Here are the two solutions.
To avoid Halo Effect from entering your recruitment process, you should make sure that different people handle different levels of the selection process. For example, if you handle the resume screening, your teammates can handle the interview section. After getting all the data, your team can measure based on the selective and opinion from the whole team which likely create unbiased candidate selection. The discussion SHOULD be conducted at the very end of the recruitment process to avoid conflict. Let one person handles their responsibility.
Interviews should be conducted a few times, including interviews with off-person or off-team. Off-person is someone who will not work in the same division as the candidate but have knowledge of the traits and responsibilities of the new position. The off-person will have no reason to “halo” candidate as they won’t work with them.