It takes seven seconds to make a solid first impression. Some studies even suggest first impressions are made within milliseconds. Whether you’re an owner, operator, or job seeker, first impressions in business are important. In fact, 33% of hiring managers report they know whether or not they will hire someone in the first 90 seconds. Why? Our brain makes quick, incomplete observations based on what we perceive — this is called first impression bias. However, first impression bias can impede effective hiring as it is often inaccurate. So, how important are first impressions in business? Read on to find how to make a good first impression and how it impacts the hourly workforce.
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Research has found that most people form impressions about personality based on facial appearance. It can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming an applicant’s friendliness or customer service skills based on appearance. However, first impressions are often inaccurate, and various studies suggest first impression bias is the leading cause of hiring errors. It’s human instinct to ask easier questions to individuals we feel good about and ask harder questions when we have a negative feeling, even if the latter may be the better candidate.
How to Reduce First Impression Bias
- Conduct a Phone Interview: Similar to blind auditions on The Voice, initially conducting a phone interview will allow you to focus on the applicant’s experience and skills. Plus, you won’t have to evaluate an individual’s demeanor, physical appearance, or facial expressions, thus increasing your objectivity.
- Script Questions Ahead of Time: This will ensure you ask job seekers the same questions and remain objective throughout the interview. Consistency is key. Follow-up questions are still welcome, but your chances of making an unfair assumption about an applicant are significantly lower.
- Utilize Objective Technology: Technology solutions — like Sprockets — are designed to help you look past first impressions to see overall applicant quality. Our Applicant Matching System creates a unique success profile for each potential hire, evaluating their “fit” scores against your current top-performing employees. The simple red-yellow-green scoring system allows you to easily see which applicants are the best fit for your team and who will stay long-term.
The Importance of a First Impression
Of course, first impressions are still important. It means that it’s essential for hiring managers and business owners to rely more on data-driven hiring methods than on their first instincts. Look at your initial interactions with job seekers to determine how they might react to your customers. Additionally, pay attention to any gut instincts (just don’t rely solely on them). If you have a negative first impression of a candidate who does well in their interview, simply spend some extra time checking their employment references. Remember that accurate, high-quality information is crucial for an effective hiring process.
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Reduce first impression bias with our AI-powered solution! Sprockets’ Applicant Matching System evaluates potential hires based on the mental makeup of your best employees. It’s proven to increase retention by an average of 43%.