The Halo Effect: Hire with Your Mind, Not Your Eyes

Valentine’s Day is coming around on Wednesday. With that in mind, we thought about what we could write about Valentines Day that has anything to do with work. I mean, what does love, or even just attraction, have to do with employment anyway?

A lot more than you’d have first thought, apparently. Attraction or even just the consensus that something is beautiful can have an impact on your judgement of it. In recent years, employers have become increasingly aware of the ‘halo effect’ when (literally) looking at new hires.

“The Halo Effect”, or the “Physical Attractiveness Stereotype” (… lets stick with “Halo Effect”) can cause issues in the hiring process. This effect is based on the idea that ‘what is beautiful is good’. Subconsciously, your mind applies this to more than you realise. In general, people tend to find attractive people more personable, capable and successful than those they consider unattractive. This thought process isn’t always accurate, and when it is it certainly isn’t correlated.

So How Do I Drop the Halo Effect?

Because of the subconscious nature of the Halo Effect, it isn’t always easy to overcome. Feelings can override your ability to hold someone at fault for wrongdoings. ‘Love at first sight’ can make it more difficult to find faults in people.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the physical appearance that spurs unconscious bias. If you hold one quality in high-esteem for someone, you’re more inclined to feel that they are competent in other areas too. Studies have shown that those who are scored highly in one area (such as physical attractiveness) by colleagues and strangers alike are scored higher across all areas in general (regardless of if this truly represents them). Students often end up deemed more intelligent and attentive when they’re well behaved.

Sometimes, unconscious biases become deep-rooted. Every person becomes exposed to stereotypes during their life (both subconsciously and consciously).  Due to this, personal opinions and experiences create connections between people and characteristics that seem exaggerated or false.

Bias can be quite difficult to lose as it involves identifying parts of your mindset. Even more difficult, you must change parts of your mindset that you’ve trusted for a long time.

How Do I Know What Bias I Might Have?

Identifying bias can be hard, as you have to discredit yourself. Not only that, how easy can it be to tap into your subconscious?

Luckily, Project Implicit can help you identify where you might have a bias in place. By undergoing relatively short tests, you can find how inclined you are to put a positive or negative spin on certain characteristics about people. You can take these tests from your computer!

The test is anonymous and is for research purposes only. It helps you see your own biases and helps Project Implicit learn about bias trends all over the world.  Take a test and see where you might have biases you never knew about.

Could The Halo Effect be clouding your judgement?

Looking to recruit?