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Job Interviews Screening Applicants Stereotyping Decision Making Hiring

I have been screening applicants for a sales position, and I found one I really like. My administrative assistant met him before the interview and said she thinks he is a phony. I still think he is very qualified, but I do not want to ignore her comments. What should I do?

Although your assistant has decided that this applicant is a phony, whatever that means, the reality is that rejecting applicants on the basis of snap judgments by someone marginally involved in the process actually makes your screening process rather phony. Effective and fair hiring calls for a thorough understanding of the position you are trying to fill and the extent to which the applicants' experience, training, expertise, and other skills match this position.

There is no problem if your assistant wants to offer her input in the hiring process. In fact, there can be times when applicants say or do outrageous things while waiting for an interview, and that can be valuable data. However, if there is nothing off-the-chart about the applicant's pre-interview behavior, then you should be very careful with your assistant's comments. Her perceptions could easily be tainted by bias, stereotyping, or previous experiences that have nothing to do with this applicant.

If you have conducted a thorough job-related interview, met with the applicant more than once, taken references from previous employers, and this applicant clearly meets the job specifications, there is no reason to subvert the process because of your assistant's comments. Everyone has had instances in which first impressions were wrong, and that includes your administrative assistant.

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