Decision FatigueThis morning, I listened to a recent podcast on “How Stuff Works” that was an interesting discussion on how decision fatigue affects how we make decisions and solve problems.  They mentioned a number of interesting studies on how willpower decisions affected peoples ability to make further decisions.  In general, willpower, or the ability to make a decision, is a finite resource and the more tough decisions you make, the harder it is to make the same quality of decision in the future.  It’s a really interesting subject and I encourage you to read deeper here.

So why am I talking about this?  Well, for any recruiting professional you are making a lot of decisions every day.  You typically have a ton of applications and candidate profiles and have to make a decision on whether they should move to the next stage in the hiring process.

So how does this affect our candidate selection?

It’s no secret that there is some bias in the selection and interview process with the majority of it happening unconsciously.  But as you can see with the different studies we also might be letting decision fatigue affect how we evaluate candidates.

Take the parole board example from the article.  In this study, researchers looked at the 1100 parole board decisions to see about bias in the process.  What they found was bias but not due to ethnic, crimes or sentences but mainly by timing.  It turned out that the best time to get parole in a hearing was after eating breakfast, lunch or after breaks as it apparently helps to replenish decision fatigue.  Apparently glucose helps replenish this as well.

While there won’t be a study on every recruiter’s day to determine when this kicks in for your team, it may be a good time to think about how we can diminish this in the process.  Because every situation and organization will be different.

Combating Decision Fatigue

We know that this exists to some degree in organizations especially for those that receive thousands of applications for every job.  However, we should look for ways to diminish this in our process.  Here’s some ideas that may work:

Make Less Decisions with Better Screening:  There are a lot of organizations already doing this will the ATS resume screening technology but in general you need to figure out what you want in a candidate for the position first and what are deal-breakers with being considered.  With these firmly set for your recruiting team, you should be able to give your recruiters better guidelines so they have to make less tough decisions on candidates and leave for more consistency across the board in what a good candidate looks like for your organization.  As I said technology can also help you determine these candidates whether it’s your ATS or a Recruitment CRM that helps to group candidates based on specific data points.

Schedule out your day:  Like any normal person, your recruiting team members will have high and low energy moments throughout the day and their decision making will wane.  As seen in the parole board example, recruiters may want to schedule the time they spend evaluating candidates after mental breaks such as breakfast or lunch as well as alternate between tasks that are more decision making focused and those that are more administrative.

Using metrics to better target efforts:  From a high level view, it can be helpful to build reports and capture recruitment metrics that help you determine the quality of the sources that you use in your recruitment marketing strategy.  Once you have the data it’s important to improve your recruitment mix to favor destinations and sources that drive the most qualified candidates and hires into your organization.  This can help drive out sources that may provide lots of applicants but little in the form of qualified candidates and cut down the number of applications you need to sift and respond to in order to find the right candidates.

Help Make Better Decisions

In general, thinking about decision fatigue in your life is a good way to change actions and behaviors.  It also helps you understand why you don’t want to go to the gym or why you can’t resist that last piece of cake.  I think the more that you focus on how to take some of these decisions out of the process for your recruiters, the better they can be at finding the employees that can really drive your company forward.

What are your thoughts?

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