What are the chances of making a good hiring decision today?
Our decision-making power appears to be only 0.26%, and our brain decides the remaining 99.74% before we even realise it.
So our brain makes decisions before we do?
Let's take a look at how neuroscience can shed light on the factors that influence our hiring decisions.
What is the role of neuroscience in decision making?
As a reminder, neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system's development and function. This discipline encompasses a variety of fields, including psychology, biology, medicine, etc., and provides a greater understanding of behaviour, emotions, cognition and decision-making processes.
The latest neuroscience research has shown that our brains are more complex than previously thought and that they evolve throughout our lives.
Several areas of our brain are involved when we make a decision, including areas associated with emotions, biases, and cognitive control.
Our brain processes a lot of information at the same time. In recruitment, for example, this can include objective information, such as the candidate's skills and experience, and subjective information, such as first impressions and emotions felt in the candidate's presence.
Studies have shown that candidates who smile more during the interview tend to be evaluated more positively. This is largely influenced by mirror neurons, which are linked to our empathy and imitation, also known as the emotional contagion effect.
Therefore, emotions play an essential role in decision-making, even when we try to make objective decisions.
Unconscious biases often influence hiring decisions. These cognitive biases are mental shortcuts that lead us to make decisions that lack objectivity and impartiality.
We are all victims of these biases, which can lead us to favour certain people or be less inclined to hire others based on their physical appearance, age, ethnicity, gender etc. Neuroscience can help us understand and overcome these cognitive biases by adopting more objective methods to assess candidates.
What methods can improve our decision-making in recruitment?
Cognitive control is a key element in decision-making. It comes into play whenever we are placed in situations we cannot resolve automatically. In other words, it is our ability to step back and objectively evaluate the information we receive.
Cognitive control is crucial because it allows us to manage our biases and emotions to make more objective decisions.
Here are three practical tips for facilitating objective decision-making in recruitment:
- Define objective criteria for assessing candidates in advance. These criteria can include specific skills, experience and achievements relevant to the job. You can create a benchmark or list of competencies that you can use to evaluate each candidate. Having a clear and objective criterion and a standardised process can reduce the influence of emotions and prejudices in your decision-making.
- Use psychometric tests to assess candidates. The results of these assessment tools provide rich and objective information on an individual’s personality, abilities, learning skills and reasoning skills. Using scientifically validated tools reassures and reduces the margin of error and allows you to ask the right questions when making decisions.
- Use a multi-source with a multi-step approach to assessing candidates. Instead of making decisions based on a single interview, it can be helpful to implement a multi-step process that includes predictive assessments, interviews with different team members, and job simulations. A multi-criteria approach will help gain objectivity, know more about the candidate and make conscious choices.
Ultimately, neuroscience allows us to understand human functioning better and how our brain affects our behaviour, thus improving our decision-making power.
For companies, focusing on the human aspect also means promoting innovative approaches and providing decision-makers with the right recruitment tools and support to explore an individual’s potential fully.