choice between two one way signs

Decision science and making the right hire

There’s More to Decision-Making Than a Pros and Cons List

The average adult makes around 35,000 decisions a day. Many of these happen in a “remotely conscious” state with low stakes (like deciding which mug to grab for your coffee, or when to take a break).

But every once in a while, we have to make decisions with real impact, like deciding who to hire. So how can we get better at it?

Understanding the processes behind how we normally make decisions and using certain techniques can help us ensure that we’re making the best choice.

The nature of decision-making

Decisions can have a real impact. Should I quit my job? Do I want to hire this person? Is this person or that person better for the job?

How easy would it be if there was an equation or a fool-proof technique you could use to ensure that you don’t do anything you’re going to regret later?

Pros or Cons…?

A classic way to make a decision, the pro/con list.

In 1838, Charles Darwin, one of the greatest scientific minds in history, needed to decide whether or not to propose to his girlfriend Emma.

So, he scribbled down two lists, side-by-side: Marry and Not Marry.

Darwin then outlined the benefits and hindrances of married life.
With marriage, he was concerned about “loss of time”, “perhaps quarrelling” or focus being diverted away from his career.
Without marriage, it is “intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working… only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire and books and music perhaps.”

Darwin most likely based his decision to eventually marry Emma that list and, chances are, many decisions we make today involve similar, rudimentary processes. It tends to help, but it can be done better. 

Removing emotions, controlling physical impact

Decision-making and emotions are intrinsically linked, it is very difficult to separate them.

Emotions can be the reason why we make bad choices.

Going to the supermarket when you’re hungry is a bad idea. But these factors, at scale, can have a lasting impact. Making decisions when angry can push people to make much riskier choices. Judges are 65% more likely to be lenient in the morning, or after a break. Should justice depend on whether a judge ate breakfast? 

So, how do you decide how to hire?

In the last 10 years employers have doubled the amount of time they spend interviewing. It takes longer to fill jobs now. And interviews are the hardest part of the process to get right.

The classic hiring process is a few interviews, starting with a phone screening call, as we wrote on our blog here.

Like the pro/con list, the interview process hasn’t changed much in the last century.

Revamp your interviewing process

We know that a solid process can help control for extraneous factors, like whether you ate lunch, had a coffee, or just like one person more than another.

Asking consistent questions to all candidates in consistent order is the best way to conduct an interview, and then compare question 1 with question 1 from all candidates.

Making subjective decisions quantitative can create a process for you to conduct better interviews, and make better hiring decisions.

To start, ask consistent questions to all candidates in the same order. Then compare question 1 with question 1 from all candidates.

Then, score them. Create an interview scorecard by listing 3-6 criterion relevant to the job, and record a rating (say 1-5) of the candidate in the interview. That way you can create a metric to measure your perceptions against the criteria. This is the analog approach.

Mockmate is the technological solution. We automate your interviews, so each candidate has the same question, objectively scored. 

Companies large and small can use Mockmate to streamline their interview process, improving efficiency and avoiding biases. Want to try? Contact us!

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