Humans rely on our senses to experience and interpret the world around us. We have evolved over time to use sensory inputs to make judgments about all kinds of things. Is that fruit OK to eat? Is that music something I want to hear more of? Is that car going to stop?
When it comes to hiring, we often deny our senses a full role in the process in ways that could save time and money. If all we do is look at someone’s resume to make a decision about them, are we evaluating them without sense, ie, is our hiring process nonsensical?
The resume certainly isn’t the person. And it may not even be a good representation of the person, just a poor simulacrum, defined as “a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance.”
Realizing this, some employers chose to bring sense to their hiring, or should we say “a sense”, by employing a phone screen. This begs the question of how much do we learn from each additional sensory experience of a candidate. How insightful and how reliable is each of our five senses in providing information about our world?
Here’s an experiment. You are put in a room alone. The room has 4 closed doors, and you are told that there are four animals, one behind each door. Behind three of the doors are dangerous animals and behind the fourth door is a friendly animal. You have one minute to decide which door you are going to open. To help you decide you are offered the choice of learning something about each of the 4 animals using just one of the following inputs:
- a brief written description of the animal
- a smell from the animal
- a sound from the animal
- a taste of each animal
- a touch of each animal
- a view of each animal
Let’s see, I know a brief written description wouldn’t be my first pick. Of course not, most of us would pick the last option, the chance to use our sense of sight.
This choice is supported by scientific research. Work by Dr. John Medina, and others, shows that the normal brain is predisposed to visuals. Our vision trumps all other senses. It is so well established that people have a better memory for images than words that it even has a name – “Pictorial Superiority Effect” (see Hamilton, M. & Geraci, L., 20006).
These findings can be applied to improve hiring. The screening of job candidates using video has been shown to be predictive of job success. The research is in keeping with other research showing that video of an individual can communicate a person’s abilities. Perhaps that’s the reason for the growing use of video interviews for screening applicants. It just makes more sense… literally.