Selection fatigue is real, and it tests the stamina of most managers at some point in their career.

Ultimately, many bad hiring decisions are connected to a lack of willingness to stay the course in finding a person who aligns well with the position rather than just finding a person to put in the position.

Sound illogical? Hardly. When it comes to selection and hiring, fatigue will pit logic and emotion against each other on a regular basis.

The Likeability Bias

Most often, with the exception of leaders who have learned through experience, emotion outpaces logic when selection fatigue sets in. Why? Because of something I refer to as the Likeability Bias.

That moment at which emotion overtakes logic in deciding who to hire because someone “likes” a candidate and believes that their “like” of the person will outpace the logic that clearly shows a lack of alignment between the person and the position.

To be clear… just because someone likes a person doesn’t mean they’re a qualified fit for the job.

The Scenario

Todd comes in for his interview and he’s instantly liked by Marsha who’s the hiring manager. Six other candidates have already been interviewed for the position. None of whom seemed like the right “fit”. Todd was sociable, personable, and shared many interests with Marsha.  As the interview progressed it was revealed that Todd was in a similar position with his current employer. During conversation, he openly, and in great detail, shared why things weren’t working out in his current situation and said that it wasn’t about the position, it was about the company. “Todd’s got potential that hasn’t been maximized in his current work environment,” thought Marsha. “Our position is more clearly defined and won’t present him with many of the challenges he currently faces,” she justified to herself.

Having completed the first interview, Marsha sent Todd a behavioral assessment. The assessment was a necessary part of her company’s selection process and would be compared to a benchmark that had been developed for the position. Marsha didn’t really agree with, or support, assessments because in her words she was an “experienced manager who had hired hundreds of people.” “My gut feel is my best guide,” she would often say about the people she hired.

The detailed output from the assessment showed that there was less than ideal alignment between the position and Todd. “What matters most is that he and I connected about the real-life requirements around the position and he fits our culture,” Marsha shared with her boss.

You can imagine how the rest of the scenario plays out… Todd is hired and Marsha and other leaders within the company become frustrated with him when he doesn’t fit the role the way that Marsha’s gut had predicted. The unnecessary amount of energy and dollars spent trying to “develop” Todd to fit the position were both real and could have and should have been avoided.

“I don’t understand. Everything went so well during the interview,” Marsha complained to her boss.











The Upside

Selection fatigue is like a virus and it can spread rapidly throughout those involved with hiring within your company.

The upside is, it’s curable.

Selection fatigue sets in when the people who are hiring become desperate and discouraged. Neither of which is a good place from which to make a decision about the people you hire. Here are three ways to overcome the discouragement and desperation associated with selection fatigue.

  1. Give up on the notion that perfect people exist. Getting more realistic begins with identifying the people that are the ideal fit for the position and the culture of the company.
  2. Actively look for blind spots that exist in the candidate and stop denying that they exist. Every candidate, just like every hiring manager, has them and the key is to have an awareness and understanding of what they are and how they impact performance, choices and decisions.
  3. Actively incorporate an objective resource, like a validated behavioral assessment, to the selection process and balance the subjective nature of the likeability bias in hiring decisions.



So, what happens when you feel like you’ve exhausted your candidate pool and you still haven’t aligned the ideal candidate with the role?

You stay the course and stay focused on a disciplined selection process. Don’t begin to make decisions from the space of desperate or discouraged. Sounds agonizing doesn’t it? Here’s what’s more agonizing – hiring someone who doesn’t align with what the position requires, who isn’t a good fit with the company culture, and/or who flat out doesn’t have the skills or experience necessary to succeed.

When you put someone into play that is aligned for the position, you receive great results. When you put someone into play that is not aligned to the position, you’re intentionally making a decision that minimizes results.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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