Employers tend to hire potential drinking mates, instead of top candidates

HRM 07 Dec 2012

Have you ever hired anyone that you felt the most connection with, instead of someone with the best qualifications?

You are not alone. An academic study by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management found that hiring managers do not always pick the most qualified applicants – they pick people they like and want to spend time with, people whom they think could be their friends.

According to Professor Lauren Rivera who led the study, she found that “interviewers often privileged their personal feelings of comfort, validation and excitement over identifying candidates with superior cognitive or technical skills.”

In other words, they chose people whom they share good chemistry with.

Wrote Rivera: “in many respects they hired in a manner more closely resembling the choice of friends or romantic partners.”

To sum it up, one investment banking hiring manager in her study said, “One of my main criteria is what I call the ‘stranded in the airport test.’ Would I want to be stuck in an airport in Minneapolis in a snowstorm with them?”

One of Rivera's findings from the study was that the majority of employers in her study described their firms as having distinct personalities that come from the hobbies of their employees. Rivera quotes a hiring partner at a consulting firm who says, “We want people who fit not only the way we do things but who we are.”

In an example from her paper, a legal hiring manager at a firm rejected an otherwise qualified applicant because of his interests in lacrosse, squash and crew – sports which the hiring manager found too aristocratic for the organisation. Another hiring manager rejected a candidate who had expressed an interest in 18th-century literature and avant-garde film because he seemed too “intellectual.”

However, HRM suggests having good recruitment systems in place for HR to differentiate bias from cultural fit. After all, you don’t want a discrimination lawsuit now, do you?



Leave your comment
Start a new discussion

HRM Asia forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Post a Comment
HRM Asia welcomes your contribution. Your IP address is recorded in the event of a complaint.
Name *
Email *
(required, but will not display)
Comment *
Please enter in the numbers in the box left.
You are about to submit your comment. Is it:
  • Professional
  • In your own name or pseudonym, not impersonating someone else
  • Free from rude language
  • Free from advertising
  • If you prefer not to post but are still keen to get your viewpoint across, you can always e-mail the editor.
  • 27 Aug | Frazer Jones - Global HR Search and Recruitment | Singapore
    HR payroll expert required to manage and lead a team in accuracy and compliance of payroll benefits programs and practice
    27 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search & Recruitment | Singapore
    Manage all HR, operational and administrative matters for the office
    25 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search & Recruitment | Singapore
    The HR Associate will support the Regional HR Director on a range of HR matters in the region.
    Itron: A five-prong guideline to employee retention
    Jayesh Menon, Regional HR Leader and Director, Asia Pacific, Itron, shares how companies should formulate a HR blueprint to tackle organisational retention
    Innovation in engagement, motivation and retention of talent
    GSK: Talent management – a serious business imperative
    Talent Management for Sustainability: Default or Design?
    Performance Leadership Pte Ltd | info@performance.sg
    Lunch, Learn and Bond with your teams, all within 1 hour! Choose from a variety of light-hearted, interesting or thought-provoking topics that appeal ...
    Performance Recognition Pte Ltd | info@performance.sg
    A monthly business incubator where leaders grow their skills, exchange ideas and share best practices.
    Organisational Development Concepts | enquiries@odctraining.com.sg
    Companies are fighting to hire talents. How do you select the right candidates with the knowledge, skill and attitude that the company is looking for?