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People strategy

How Consistent is Reviewer Decision-Making During the Interview Process?

Kenko Fujii

reviewer.jpegLaunchPad research suggests that inconsistent decision-making remains a key obstacle to recruitment success for many companies.

According to The Quarterly Journal of Economics, the average time-to-hire for U.K. businesses hovers around 23 days, representing a 60% increase since 2010. In its discussion of this steady and substantial increase, recruitment company Michael Page points to three factors that may be to blame: companies’ fears of making bad decisions, a surplus of unfit candidates and overly drawn-out interviewing processes.

The firm is correct in highlighting these particular factors as potential sources of recruitment and hiring inefficiency, but it’s worth mentioning that all three can be mitigated by improved reviewer consistency. Consider the following points:

  1. 1. If all of your reviewers agree on the merits — or lack thereof — of a certain candidate, it’s             highly unlikely that they’ll end up making the wrong decision
  2. 2. Without first defining what characteristics constitute right-fit candidates you have little to no           chance of actually identifying them
  3. 3. When you establish that definition upfront (and reviewers are able to abide by it), it streamlines     the process and reduces the overall-time-to hire

Now, this is not to say that reviewer consistency is a panacea for all your hiring woes; however, at the very least, it’s clear that reviewer inconsistency presents a whole range of problems that can have a direct and negative impact on hiring outcomes.

For any responsible hiring manager or executive, this should then beg the question, “How consistent is reviewer decision-making during the hiring process?” More often than not, the answer is likely “not very” — or so the data would suggest.

Remember, Reviewers are Human

In a recent study conducted by LaunchPad’s Chartered Psychologist, Mark Abrahams, and myself entitled, “How Consistent Are Interviewers When Rating Job Applicants?” we found that reviewer decision-making was less consistent than expected, pretty much across the board.

Why is this the case? Mark explains ‘as a certified psychologist I can attest to the fact that there are a whole host of reasons stemming from our basic neural wiring. Even among reviewers who’ve received identical briefings about how they are to judge candidates, some people are simply naturally more lenient, and some are naturally stricter.

What’s more, every one of us has hardwired, often unconscious biases that influence the way we assess any given candidate. This can be as egregious as a reviewer intentionally rating candidates of a certain religious or ethnic background differently than others, but it can also be as ostensibly harmless as a reviewer unconsciously leaning towards a candidate who roots for the same football club, or reminds them of themselves at that age.’

Either way, the point is that both compromise the integrity of the hiring process, negatively impacting your ability to make objective, business-minded decisions — and potentially doing harm to your employer brand.

Rampant — and Impactful — Inconsistency

So just how inconsistent are reviewers? According to our study, when rating a candidate’s responses to five standardised interview questions on a 1 to 5 scale, reviewers completely agreed — that is, gave all five responses the same marks as did their fellow reviewers — a mere 3.7% of the time!

Many of these disagreements were not insignificant in their disparity, either. In fact, in 50% of the assessments we analysed, reviewers disagreed by two or more points (on the five-point scale), which is more than enough to send a wrong-fit candidate through or deselect a potential superstar.

Of the many campaigns we assessed, all of them had between 22% and 39% of applicant outcomes that would be negatively affected by differences in reviewers’ scores. From an HR perspective, these figures are disconcerting, to say the least.

There are a number of steps companies can take to begin addressing reviewer inconsistency. Innovative solutions that have emerged in recent years include automated recruitment technologies, which help ensure objectivity during the pre and early screening stages, as well as algorithms that can verify reviewer decision-making and identify potential instances of bias during assessment, such as LaunchPad’s one of a kind VERIFY tool.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychology of human decision-making in the recruitment process, download our full report here.

Kenko Fujii

Kenko Fujii is a Data Scientist at LaunchPad Recruits