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Beware of the ‘new = better’ equation

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in Hiring,Human Resources

When filling an open position, it may come down to a decision between an internal candidate or someone from outside. Evaluate both individuals fairly and beware of subtle biases.

Psychologically, most of us tend to favor hiring promising outsiders over people we know well. That’s because when we know very little about someone, we might envision a rosy future in which the candidate proves a superstar.

The mystery of not knowing about a new person in our lives can ignite our imagination and make us excited at the prospect of positive outcomes filled with limitless possibilities.

When interviewing job candidates, consider concrete qualifications, experience and other objective measures. Beware of assuming that newcomers from the outside will offer better insights or more valuable contributions than equally strong internal applicants.

Some studies suggest that CEOs hired from the outside earn more than leaders promoted from within, but they don’t perform as well. That may be because a board of directors can get ensnared in the same trap of heightened expectations of outsiders. A board’s lack of familiarity with an outside candidate can trigger boundless enthusiasm about the incoming CEO.

Before making an important hiring decision, discuss the pros and cons of each candidate with a trusted colleague or HR specialist. Temper your excitement about someone you’re just getting to know, and make sure you’re not prone to overoptimistic hopes.

—Adapted from Irrationally Yours, Dan Ariely, Harper Perennial.

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