Why hiring the wrong person feels right

By Christian Nyvang Qvick, Senior Consultant, LEAD

"I've definitely chosen the right person". This thought has probably crossed the minds of many managers in hiring rounds or when appointing resource people. However, research suggests that we are affected by various biases that mislead us when deciding who to hire. Read here about 11 different biases and how to avoid them 'hitting' you.

As a manager, one of your most important tasks is to put together the right team. This means recruiting the right people when hiring new managers and employees, and appointing the right people to lead projects or coordinate cross-functional collaborations.

However, there are a number of biases that can play tricks on you and cause you to fail to act in an informed and rational manner when choosing who to hire or promote, even with the best of intentions.

What is a bias?

In short, a bias is a systematic fallacy. When you are 'hit' by a bias, you are said to be 'biased'. This means that your assessments and decisions are influenced by factors that are irrelevant to the situation at hand and that you misinterpret the available knowledge, leading to a distorted picture of reality. This often happens unconsciously and is a natural part of our thinking.

The good news is that you can minimize the risk of hiring or promoting the wrong person when you are aware of these biases. And what are these biases? We'll look at that now.

READ MORE ABOUT OUR TRAINING LEAD offers certification in the development of agile leadership with the Leader Versatility Index (LVI) development tool

With a certification, you will be equipped to use LVI in development processes in your organization at the individual, group and organizational level.

The halo effect: "He can do it all!"

As the name of this bias suggests, the halo effect describes the human tendency to assume that when a person excels positively in one area, they will also excel in other areas. For example, in a hiring situation, this bias may lead you to think that a well-dressed candidate with a freshly ironed shirt and a neat, well-trimmed haircut is certainly structured and punctual in their work. Similarly, this bias can also explain why skilled subject matter experts are sometimes appointed as managers, even if they don't necessarily have great leadership skills.

This bias also comes in a negative variant, called the pitchfork effect, which describes a situation where a single negative characteristic or first impression can color our overall assessment to be predominantly negative or to overshadow positive traits. Sometimes it can be even the smallest things that lead to an immediate irritation that we can't ignore. For example, we may judge a candidate as incompetent because of a few typos in their application, or we may find a candidate slow to speak.

Whether it's the halo effect or the pitchfork effect, the solution is the same: get in the helicopter and try to see the whole picture rather than focusing on individual parts.

Should we have a no-obligation dialog?

We can help with all types of leadership development, whether it's tailored development programs, courses, training, workshops, lectures or anything else. 

Get a call from an advisor

Get a call from an advisor

We're ready to help you. Simplyfill out the form and we'll call you back as soon as possible.

Event registration


magazine, LEAD Insights, management

Do you want knowledge and inspiration on how to strengthen the work with management and organizational development in the public and private sectors in Denmark?

 Sign up for our digital magazine and get knowledge and inspiration directly in your inbox.