Hiring Because They Are Like Me

We all have a bias about being around people who we perceive to be like ourselves.  Social psychologists refer to this as our “ingroup,” which are people with a shared interest or identity.  Being around our ingroup gives us a feeling of belonging and comfort.

Where this affects business is in hiring and promotional practices.  We want to be surrounded by our “ingroup”, so we hire/promote people who remind us of us.  One of the places this really happens is when it comes to where a person went to school.  Besides having a shared experience, we subconsciously (or maybe not so subconsciously) assume that attending that school gives him/her/them the same positive attributes that we give ourselves.  What this does is limits how big of a net we cast when recruiting.

At least one company is taking a different approach.  Rather than hire M.B.A.’s from a few schools, they’ve decided to recruit from 80 colleges/universities.  To do this, and manage costs, they have also decided to move from in-person interviews to video interviews, which may be turning off some candidates.  Given how much millenials and Gen Z like to Facetime and video chat with friends, I find this a little hard to believe.

It will be interesting to see if the quality of those hired is affected by the new approach.  I’m guessing not.  The incremental gain of recruiting from the “top” schools should be more than offset by the addition of new perspectives and skills.  And, who knows, maybe when big companies start to care more about the quality of the students and less so about hiring from their “ingoup”, MBA programs will become less expensive.

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