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The "Halo Effect" and How it Influences Your Hiring Decisions

Post Author Randy Hatcher
Jan 18, 2018 5:48:46 PM
Workforce Insights
How To Avoid The Halo Effect (1)

The results are in! CareerBuilder just released its annual Job Forecast report and out of a representative sampling of nearly 900 hiring managers and HR professionals, 44% reported plans to hire in the new year.  In addition, 51% plan to hire contract or temporary workers. Simultaneously, 45% of respondents currently have jobs that they cannot find qualified candidates for, with 58% having positions open for 12 weeks or more.  As a result, it is even more important to hire the right person when qualified candidates are found.

When the hunt drags on for over three months, some candidates that you wouldn’t have considered earlier in the search may start to appear to fit the bill.  Below, MAU President, Randy Hatcher, shares how to avoid the halo effect in your hiring choices this year.

Sometimes, a candidate may win his interviewer over with poise and perfectly crafted answers to all questions asked.  And while these candidates may seem great during the interview process, they lack the necessary skills to actually perform on the job once hired.  So, how can you escape the cost of a bad hire?

Avoid the “Halo” Effect

This phenomenon occurs when we perceive another person in a good light, and have trouble viewing them in any other way.  For example, some interviewers may feel an instant, positive connection to a candidate, and assume that this interaction will translate into a dedicated, hardworking, innovative hire. In other words, the halo effect may appear as a “love at first sight” connection between the interviewer and the candidate.

In addition, research shows that those who are tall, charismatic, wear glasses, etc. are perceived as more competent than those who are not.  This unconscious bias further perpetuates the likelihood that a company will make an error in hiring at least a few times during the course of its lifetime.

According to Is Your Perception Hurting Your Hiring Efforts?, written by Future Force Personnel Services, the halo effect “… occurs when one trait (such as wearing eyeglasses) influences our perception of another trait (intelligence).”  This phenomenon occurs more often during interviews, as opposed to romantic dates because they’re short, compact interactions between two parties.  While the halo effect can take place during a personal relationship, it will eventually fade as time goes on and the relationship may either fail or stay intact.

The business world, however, has little tolerance for the halo effect.  This is because the wrong hire translates into a loss involving time, money, stress, missed opportunity, etc.  Companies must exhaust all opportunities when interviewing to ensure that the right person is hired the first time around.

It is estimated that the wrong hire can cost a company one to seven times the person’s first annual salary.

These estimates are based on the fact that the hiring process is expensive, especially when employees subject themselves to multiple interviews per candidate, per job.  In addition, terminating employees is costly and may include; severance pay, increases in unemployment tax, cost of continued benefits, etc.

In terms of morale, those still employed will suffer due to the fact that fixing hiring mistakes is frustrating and time consuming- moving the focus away from strengthening one’s core business.

This is why putting the right processes and partners in place is critical.  From testing and assessments, interview training, to working with a third-party provider, there are measures you can take to avoid the halo effect and spare the headache caused by a bad hire.  For example, staffing providers have spent years developing ways to scope the job market and select the most appropriate candidate to fill an open position.  Trained professionals can define the needs of the employer and execute a job search quickly, in order to place the right candidate, the first time.  Staffing and recruiting providers take aim at the halo effect, to ensure that the right hiring decisions are made in the best interest of all parties involved.


As the unemployment rate continues to hold at historically low rates, not only capturing talent, but holding onto them through the hiring process is critical. For more ways to optimize your recruiting efforts and hiring processes, click below to download an article on ways to hold on to the right candidates from the beginning of your hiring process. 

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