Here is why human judgement of behaviour will never be objective.
As human beings, we are inherently influenced by our beliefs, experiences, and perspectives, which can impact how we assess the behaviour of candidates in various situations. Despite our efforts to minimize bias, we cannot deny the fact that our judgment is subjective and influenced by various factors.
This can result in potential inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the assessment process, especially when assessing behaviour, as our personal perspectives and opinions come into play. We may try to be objective, but deep down, our inherent subjectivity severely impacts how we perceive a candidate. For better or worse.
The bottom line is that achieving complete objectivity in the human judgment of behaviour is by all means challenging, if not impossible. Yet, we still attempt to do so.
Exposing the subjective nature of interviews and assessment days
- Interviewer bias. As humans, we are prone to errors and inconsistencies in judgement, which in turn can impact the accuracy and reliability of assessing candidate behaviour through interviews. Factors such as fatigue, distractions and unconscious biases can play a big role in our perception of a candidate, often leading to flawed judgement.
- Candidates can rehearse their responses: Candidates often prepare and rehearse their answers, resulting in socially desirable responses that may not reflect their true behaviours and abilities. Thus, leading to an inaccurate assessment and misrepresentation of the candidates’ actual suitability for a job.
- Not neuro-inclusive. Traditional interviews may not accommodate diverse cognitive abilities and communication styles. For example, candidates with autism may experience difficulty with social interaction and communication, including difficulty reading social cues, expressing themselves verbally, and making eye contact. Similarly, individuals with ADHD may struggle with focusing on questions, maintaining attention, or controlling their impulsivity, which could affect their ability to effectively respond to interview questions. Therefore, it is important for employers to consider alternative interview methods that are more inclusive of diverse cognitive abilities and communication styles.
- Communication and language barriers. Assessing behaviour often involves interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues, which can be challenging due to communication and language barriers. Candidates who are not proficient in the language of assessment may face difficulties in accurately expressing themselves, leading to misinterpretations and misrepresentations of their behaviour.
Assessment days are commonly days when the employer invites candidates who have passed the initial screening phases to visit the headquarters or the nearest office.
Long story short – candidates are presented with simulated work situations or scenarios that are intended to assess their abilities and behaviours in a controlled environment. Then throughout the day (or sometimes, days), candidates are asked to work on these assignments either individually or in a group setting. Sounds quite promising and definitely as a more tangible way of testing someone’s behaviour, right?
But why are they not an accurate measurement of someone’s behaviour? Well..
- Costly, and time-consuming to both develop and administer. Assessment days require a significant investment of time and resources to both develop and administer. Developing on-site cases and exercises can be resource-intensive, and conducting assessments can be time-consuming. This can add to the overall recruitment costs and increase the time spent in the hiring process, leading to challenges in talent acquisition. Additionally, the logistics of arranging an assessment day, including scheduling, venue hire, and travel, can further add to the costs.
- Inaccurate insights. Assessment days, even though valuable and can somewhat mirror real work situations, can still result in skewed impression of a candidate as candidates may feel inclined to exhibit socially desirable behaviours to impress you. This can lead to false assessments that do not reflect candidates’ abilities and behaviours. As a result, leading to inaccurate insights and evaluations of the candidate’s behaviour, which may not be representative of their typical behaviour.
- Specifically geared towards certain kinds of people. Think of those who are more outgoing, confident and assertive. Meaning that candidates who are more introverted or less confident may not perform as well during the assessment day, even if they possess other skills that are essential for the job. It just means the most dominating characters get to show their skills and quieter candidates don’t.
- Observation is highly subjective. Observation is a subjective process, and different assessors may interpret and evaluate the same behaviour differently. Leading to inconsistency in the assessment results and making it challenging to compare candidates’ performance objectively. Additionally, assessors may have biases that influence their evaluations, leading to unfairness in the selection process.
- Low construct validity. Finally, assessment days have been criticized for having low construct validity, which refers to the degree to which an assessment accurately measures the trait or characteristic it is intended to measure (Robbins et al., 2010). Some critics argue that assessment days are not good measures of candidate behaviour, as they fail to account for individual differences and the complexity of human behaviour.
While assessment days seemingly have the potential to provide useful insights into candidate behaviour, they are not without their drawbacks. These drawbacks make them unreliable and unfair measures of candidate behaviour, leading to challenges in the recruitment process.
Human judgement will never be objective, however..
As mentioned in the beginning of this blog, achieving complete objectivity in the human judgment of behaviour is by all means challenging, if not impossible. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks posed by human judgement when assessing behaviour – and that is by using assessment tools that are objective.
For example, behavioural assessments are designed to measure specific behaviours and traits relevant to the job. Overall, these assessments allow for objective assessessment of behaviour as long as they are scientifically validated and research-backed, use standardized criteria, predetermined scoring methods, objective measurements, reliance on empirical data, and minimise human bias.
These aspects help ensure consistency, fairness, and reliability in the assessment process, leading to a more objective evaluation of candidates’ behaviours and traits.