What hiring tools are the best predictors of job performance?
How gut instincts and flawed memories bias evaluations.
Critical features of successful appraisal systems.
Our ability to accurately judge talent is hampered by unconscious and subjective distractions. Hiring decisions are affected by common biases, such as favoring tall or attractive candidates, or by superficial first impressions of likability. In fact, according to Professor Flynn, standard hiring interviews are only slightly more reliable than handwriting analysis in predicting on-the-job performance! Far superior are work sample tests and intelligence tests, which provide us with objective, diagnostic data needed to make fair assessments.
Evaluating performance over time is also affected by simple biases. We may not be able to shake off our first impressions—what psychologists refer to as “anchoring and insufficient adjustment.” We may subtly communicate our expectations and thus encourage the behavior we expect. Or we may assess performance—but not the level of difficulty of the assignment. Successful appraisal practices, according to Dr. Flynn, require clear evaluation criteria, manager training on how to conduct performance reviews, and as much objective data as possible.
Frank Flynn is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior; Co-director of the High-Potentials Executive Program; Director of the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he received his PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of California, Berkeley.