Monday, 24 April 2017

Prejudice and judging people before you meet them

It is easy to make first impression. It takes only couple of seconds for people to box others into groups and make uninformed decisions. It gets even worse when people unconsciously change their attitude based on these first impressions. It is hard to control because it is encoded deep in who we are and yet it can do so much harm.

I have talked about prejudice before. I have put forth research about biases. Now I would like to reopen this topic due to my personal experience in work.

The CV

I have received a mail from one of my colleagues containing CV of one of the candidates for an open position. CV is a personal information and is not to be shared like that, but for some reason this mail traveled to my inbox. Actually, I was not even supposed to get it, it was a mistake. The mail was meant for someone else. Someone else who also was also not supposed to receive that kind of information.

It was sent to the whole bunch of people. The purpose was so that they could check the CV and see who will be the newest newcomer. So they could make an opinion about the person before he even arrives. Oh, and they did.

They have not met him yet, but knew already they dislike him. All that based on a piece of document summarizing some previous experience. Don't get me wrong, CV is important, but is it enough to know everything about the person? And I mean everything? Enough to know you dislike him?

CV is one of the first layers of filtering, afterwards you have lots of interviews and tests. So why are people so hellbent on making assumptions based on minimal amount of information?

Give them a shot

I have noticed this problem far too often among many other employees from different companies. They all take this little piece of paper and cast an extreme judgement on the person whom it is about.

As an interviewer you are taught that in first couple of seconds your opinion is formed subconsciously whether you like it or not. But you are also taught to take this into consideration and overcome it. The person in front of you could be stressed out and stumble, but that does not mean she is incompetent and cannot walk. You have to give her the benefit of a doubt.

The same skill is lacking among people who do not do interviews. And it is a shame. Because once this new person comes to your team, even if she is the best person ever, you will be undermining her and not giving her the chance to prove herself. Its lose-lose situation for you and the person.

Instead, try taking different approach. It sounds simple but it is very complicating and difficult. And the approach is this: Do not judge people without proper information. Mainly if what you have is just first impression that might not even be made by meeting them.

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