As if finding a job in this economy wasn’t bad enough, a recent article in U.S. News and World Reports, says that companies have now added psychology to the mix. Because the market is flooded with applicants, companies are employing Psychologists to try and weed out the misfits, loonies, trouble makers and potentially ugly people from getting the jobs that smart, sane, pretty people should be getting. The “potentially ugly” category being a bit more subjective and involves computer aging potential candidates to make sure they don’t get ugly in the 10 to 20 years they might be employed with the company. Many employers are hoping that having psychologists conduct the interview will cut down on the cost of a “mis-hire.” Those people that seem great at first and then you find out they have a toe nail clipping collection in their desk drawer and have to be fired.
Organizational psychologists are also suppose to cut down on the traditional biases associated with the interview process. As the article puts it:
“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 changed the way companies performed psychological analysis, and severely limited the use of questions that would reveal a medical impairment, like depression. In fact, three minutes of meeting, Sidle says, often basing their judgment on superficial criteria, such as the college the candidate attended, physical appearance, or interests and activities. The interviewer then spends the rest of the interview trying to confirm that immediate bias, in favor or against the job seeker, Sidle says.”today might be the interviewers least likely to form biases. Traditional interviewers tend to make their calls on a candidate within the first
Woah! Hold up, superficial criteria such as college, physical appearance and hobbies?! You can’t get enough bias about these things for my money and here’s why, biases are societies way of protecting itself from all the ickyness in the world. Here is a perfect case to illustrate my point.
Future applicant, let’s call him, Joe. If we eliminate biased questions and criteria from the interview, here is what Joe would look like.
Psychologist: So Joe, it says here that you managed a major marketing proposal for your previous employer that landed you a multi contract with your client. Tell me some of the things that you did to effectively execute that project?
Joe: Well I had an excellent group of people working with me so that definitely helped. I implemented good time management and oversight strategies to that kept the project rolling and highlighted challenges quickly allowing us to fix problems immediately.
Sounds good so far. Joe looks great on paper. You’d probably hire him. Now, here’s how the interview would go if the company allowed for biases… let’s read…
Psychologist: So Joe, I notice that you are mostly naked, except for that loin cloth. What’s that about?
Joe: I am currently the marketing director for a Co-opt of organic vegan farmers and out of solidarity with victims of animal slaughter, my brothers and sisters, cow, chicken, pig, duck, and all the other animals, we at the Co-opt go mostly naked. We also support animal marriage. Platonic animal marriage of course. We’re not freaks.
Psychologist: Ya like farming do ya? Is it a hobby of yours?
Joe: Yes I love it. I garden in the nude.
STOP. And that is why you need to take into account looks, education, interests and activities when you’re interviewing. These are critical to the decision making process. You’d end up hiring Joe if you didn’t consider biases. The naked, veggie eating, animal marrying gardner. And that would be a terrible mistake, he’d be mostly naked for board meetings, sticking to the seats, and then there’s the whole issue of what to get for a wedding gift when he decides to marry a cow. There goes the grill, that’s out for sure. So that’s why biases and lots of personal probing questions need to be included in interviews.