Halo effect Horn effect How to prevent them from affecting your recruitment

Halo effect and Horn effect: How to prevent them from affecting your recruitment

The Halo and Horn effects are cognitive biases with which we prejudge a person with a positive or negative approach without knowing it.

These terms are not new, the American psychologist Edward Thorndike presented them in the article “A Constant Error in Psychological Ratings” n 1920, to explain how a first image in front of a person can change the way we perceive it and how we judge it thus confirming that the human being is not objective.

In this blog we will tell you what these terms refer to in the area of Human Resources and how to manage them so that they do not affect your selection process.

Halo Effect

It consists in the bias with which we judge a person positively, thus affecting our perception of him and conditioning their actions positively.

This can be seen at the stages of the selection process, for example in interviews. In this phase, recruiters are exposed to be carried away by this effect if they do not remain partial to the good image shown by the applicant.

Thus, some problems that can bring the Halo effect in the selection process are:

  • Lack of credibility of the process
  • Wrong choice of the candidate
  • Inability to recognize candidate’s strengthening skills
  • Difficulty to give good feedback, there is always something that can be improved

In turn, in the corporate culture the Halo effect can be seen translated into favoritisms that bring frustration to the team and a bad perception towards the management.

Horn Effect

Contrary to the Halo effect, the Horn effect attributes negative judgments about a person without really knowing them. For example, when we say ‘this person… I don’t know why, but I don’t like him’.

This effect is also very harmful to the selection process and at the same time becomes a challenge for the Human Resources team, before the possibility of misjudging a good candidate.

Some of the main problems that this effect can bring are:

  • Lose a good candidate
  • Lack of professionalism in giving feedback to candidates who are not selected
  • Affect the image of the organization.

How to avoid Halo and Horn effects affect recruiting?

1) Give priority to neutrality

For this you must be aware that we can all be victims of the Halo and Horn effects, so you should ask if the impression you have of the candidate is neutral or if it is biased by own prejudices.

This is not a simple exercise because we must do a work of self-analysis and reflection, but it is necessary for the process to be impartial.

The key is not to get carried away by emotions, question our judgment and always think about being impartial.

2) Prepares the interviews

It is vital that our job interviews have a structure according to what we need to know about the candidate. Thus we will have clear what to rate and under what parameters, reducing the risk of making wrong value judgments.

We always say that the first impression is the one that counts, and while it is relevant it is not everything. So we must be careful not to be led by false impressions that distort our assessment.

Here are 4 steps that can help you conduct an interview as objective as possible.

  • Be very clear about the skills required for the job.
  • Classify these skills according to the level of importance
  • Devise an interview that analyzes the past performance of candidates in the face of challenges they will find again in the new position.
  • Create a scoring system to then objectively compare candidates

At the end of the process and with the data on the table, we will be able to provide our criteria and experience to decide which is the best candidate.

3) Have a second opinion

When selecting a candidate is always better involve more than one person. In this way we will have more than one trial when evaluating applicants and choosing a candidate.

It is important that the other person is also clear that we require an impartial opinion that favors the objectivity of the selection process.

Bonus: Non verbal communication

Knowing how to read the candidate’s non-verbal language will help you to know him better and understand his emotions at the time of the interview. If you want to know how to do it, we recommend you read our article Nonverbal language: What types there are and how to analyze them in an interview.

In short, these effects confirm that people are not objective. We will always have prejudices on different topics, so it is important to recognize them to remove them and avoid biases in a process of recruiting new talent.

This, along with a good preparation of the selection process will make your evaluation much more neutral.

And you: What practices do you carry out to avoid letting yourself be carried away by prejudice?

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