People Magazine

Only human: Dangers of snap judgments in HR interview questions

hr interview questions
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HR’s role in preventing snap judgments.

Keeping environments professional and judgment-free.

How you can reduce judging candidates.

Best hr interview questions to ask to avoid environments rich in judging.

How are you judging your recruitment candidates? It’s impossible not to judge since that’s human nature. Our judgments are shaped by our experience, language, gender, culture, religion, and a host of other influences.

However, when it comes to recruitment, your HR interview questions might be inadvertently building judgment into the process. That’s just one reason having the right HR software such as Aqeed People is imperative to a better recruitment process.

You can’t take the human factor out of human resources. Plus, judgments can also be from our gut instincts, and those are often important to listen to. Judgment isn’t always adverse, either. We are judging ourselves and each other on a regular basis. We are judging to consider who is the best person to promote, who is the best person to hire and to gauge which employees aren’t pulling their weight. That being said, our judgments aren’t always correct.

Using Judgment in Interview Techniques

Snap judgments in recruitments can be unprofessional. Some interview techniques might be very outdated or utilize a language that isn’t healthy or helpful. For example, imagine interviewing for a receptionist position and asking a female candidate if she knows how to make coffee. If this isn’t asked of a male candidate, that’s an interview “technique” that’s steeped in gender inequality and misogyny. The worst part is that this inequality might not be something the interviewer intended or was even aware of.

A few typical examples of snap judgments might include stereotyping, negative emphasis, and nonverbal bias.

It’s always best to stick with pre-established interview questions that have been approved by HR. Top interview questions can and should be designed to be fair without language that might be offensive. This language is, of course, continually evolving and changing. That’s why it’s so important to have HR as a driving force behind your recruitment.

Interview Tips to Reduce Judgment

The number-one way to improve your interviews is by relying on a reputable HR department with HR software to handle it. However, if you do find yourself in the position of interviewing a candidate, it is better to be prepared. These are some key questions to ask in an interview that can help manage snap judgments:

  1. Ask about the candidate’s favorite sports team. It can be a way to break the ice and also get to actually know the person beyond the canned answers both of you have.
  2. Keep questions consistent and focused on past job-related experiences. Avoid the temptation to go off-script or improvise.
  3. Avoid questions related to hobbies. This is a common interview question to “try to get to know the person.” The problem is that the interviewee likely has responses prepared that might not showcase who they really are. This makes the question pointless and might lead to a judgment zone.
  4. Use questions like how, what, and tell me more. When you find yourself during the interview formulating a snap judgment, stop yourself and probe more to build curiosity. Ask more questions until the answer is crystal clear. Avoid why phrases because they have a lot of judgment energy behind them, which puts the interviewee in a defensive state.

There is no way to avoid judgments, but reminding yourself to remain open can help.

When preparing to interview someone, affirm that your judgments will be based on their responses. Try not to read into how they look or seek non-verbal cues that might be related to stress or anxiety.
Snap judgments usually say more about the person judging than the person being judged.

A panel interview can help, particularly when it comes to discussing candidates as it provides numerous perspectives. Snap judgments are usually an individual position to take, and hearing feedback from others can help you re-shape opinions.

However, there is also the possibility of falling into gossip—yet another reason HR is a must to keep environments professional and as judgment-free as possible.


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