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Avoiding ‘horns’ or ‘halo’s’ on candidates: Creating a scorecard to avoid biases in the interview


Biases happen in interviews. It can’t be helped. Studies have shown that people will favor tall over short (or vice versa), male over female, athletes versus non-athletes. Studies have shown that a candidate that follows an outstanding candidate will be evaluated against that prior candidate versus the individual traits of that candidate. All of this causing what is in HR Language a ‘horns’ vs. ‘Halo’s’ dilemma.

One of my client companies made a decision that waiting for the right sales candidate, based on one key criteria, outweighed the benefits of additional sales being made now. That was a personal choice by this family business that put culture as it’s primary factor. Unfortunately, hiring decisions could not be made as they measured candidates against this one factor only usually disregarding the rest. Right or wrong, if you have a company that needs to make hiring decisions and aren’t in the position to ‘wait for as long as it takes’, then you have to think ahead and ensure everyone is on the same page as to what the candidate requirements are.

To ensure hiring managers avoid bias in the interview, I recommend the following 5 steps : (In this article we will deal with the scorecard and save the other 4 for separate articles)

  1. Develop a Hiring Team

  2. Develop a Score card by which to measure candidates (this usually involves looking at who has been successful and spending time on the criteria)

  3. Train the Hiring Team on what to ask and how; this will solve redundancy, legal issues and ensuring open versus closed ended questions are being done

  4. Ensure there is a strong background and reference check process

  5. Conduct multiple interviews before and after reference check and in different settings

The Scorecard

On a sheet of paper, outline the general traits you would be looking at in a candidate. Take time figuring this out. Usually this involves looking at those in your organizations history who have been most successful and figuring out why.

Here are a list of the most common:

  • Work History – Do they have a history of staying or jumping? Have they stayed long enough to make something happen?

  • Achievement – How did they rank against other sales people? Sales Successes versus Quota?

  • Type of Sales Role - Were they direct sales, inside sales, Account management? Business to Business or Business to Consumer? Institutional Sales vs. Commercial Sales?

  • Products versus Services – Will it be an adjustment to what we do.

  • Sales Cycles – Short Cycles versus Long Cycles.

  • Personality – Likeable? Courteous? Friendly? Distrespectful? Did they talk to the receptionist or ignore him/her?

  • Compensation – Can they make it work with your program versus what they are used to

  • Cultural Fit – Very hard to pin down and you have to be very aware of legal vs. illegal questions so you should consult and expert on this subject if you are concerned what you can or can’t do. You know what you are looking for in this area though, it’s finding out how to get those answers if the candidates don’t discuss them first. Check out their resume, social media that is already in the public to get an idea of the person but that doesn’t mean you can ask direct questions on it

  • Communication Skills

  • Background Check results

Second, put a weight on each trait so they add up to 100%.Spend time to ensure if there is anything that is an automatic disqualification it’s discussed at this time to be put on the score sheet.

Third, on a scale of 1-5 on the scorecard.During the interview the interviewers can evaluate if this person is a 1- worst, or 5-best.

At the end of the day you should be able to multiply each interviewers score times the % to determine their weightand look at the whole group.

Determine at the beginning that one person should not make this decision alone.People tend to like people like themselves so the weights will likely meaure those biases unless determined and trained in advance.

Take the time on this step.Next article we will go into selecting the Interview Team.

Bill Morgan is the owner of The Selling Experience, a sales consulting boutique focused on helping those having to manage sales people and Morgan Recruiting Group, a specialized firmin recruiting Sales and Technical professionals.For over 20 years he has been guiding companies on selecting the right teams either as a Business Owner, Executive Management, Consultant or Recruiter. He has helped over a hundred companies in his career in proper hiring and building of teams.


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