A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson shares findings from new studies that suggest people’s natural instincts to sell themselves may actually be counter-productive.
This new finding can have a big impact on HR managers and hiring managers. If we’re not aware of these natural psychological presentation barriers, we may end up passing on our best potential candidate – because they haven’t “sold” themselves to us in the right way. In turn, we may be selling our employer brand to potential candidates in the wrong way too!
So, how does the “Presenter’s Paradox” work?
Many of us have that standard question we use in an interview: “Tell me about yourself?” Here, our candidate may begin listing her accomplishments, starting with the most significant ones, and moving down to minor ones. The logic here is, all of these accolades, when added together will display an impressive profile.
But we, as recipients, process such lists of information not by adding and evaluating the total sum of accolades. Unbeknown to us, research suggests we actually average out all of the accomplishments to formulate our judgment of the candidate. The minor accolades that a candidate is sharing, in reality, lowers our overall impression of her. The net takeaway here: ironically, less is actually more.
When interviewing candidates, we have to be aware of our hard-wired bias here, and purposefully eliminate the peripheral points a candidate may be presenting to us, during our consideration process. Conversely, if we want to favourably position our company to a candidate and scoop them away from the competition, we may want to focus on our biggest selling points, instead of sharing a long running list of every possible positive attribute we can think of.
Now, we not only have to read between the lines of written documents, we need to “read between the presentation points” to get the real context we’re looking for!