A woman conducts a job interview in her office.

The Role of Psychology in Hiring


Any recruiter or hiring manager knows there’s more to interviewing a candidate than merely asking questions. Companies with well-developed recruiting departments view their hiring formulas as art forms, and smaller organizations strive toward such tight hiring games. The secret to modern hiring isn’t just finding candidates with the desired experience. You now need to use science and psychology to hire, or dismiss, interviewees — maybe without even knowing it. To understand more about the phenomenon of hiring psychology, let’s look at the tactics that your organization, and other well-known companies, may be employing.

The Psychology of First Impressions

Known in psychology circles as “thin slicing,” first impressions about candidates (and theirs concerning you) take place within seconds, based on thin slices of information — clothing, scent, grooming, etc. We are often quick to make up our minds about candidates before we even speak to them, but there is so much more to each person than first meets the eye. While it is important that candidates put their best foot forward for a positive impression, recruiters may want to pump the breaks on jumping to conclusions about a person so they don’t discount great talent before they get to know them.

How Successful Companies Use Psychology Tactics in Interviews

Most successful companies don’t just have a hiring process; they have an accompanying philosophy. As psychological findings have shown, some of the world’s most successful companies (think Google) use carefully devised interview techniques that test things like cognitive ability and assess candidates’ placement on a conscientiousness scale. Whether or not you choose to adopt a similar strategy is less important than what you can learn from studying a successful company’s hiring psychology:

  • Score candidates based on conscientiousness — For example, the ability to take responsibility for their environments or their dedication to work completion.
  • Apply testing techniques to measure candidates’ cognitive abilities — Use behavioral and situational structured interview methods or pre-interview psychometric testing.
  • Finely tune your interview process — Write scripts and test your methodology and results, then follow the process consistently.
  • Rather than just grilling candidates concerning their resumes, maximize interviews as mutually enjoyable encounters — Enjoy conversations that cross from typical interviews into states of flow.

What HR Wants Future Candidates to Know about the Psychology of Hiring

The psychology of hiring doesn’t need to mystify and intimidate candidates. If anything, it can help them prepare for interviews and show their best selves. From the perspective of a hiring manager or recruiter, candidates should:

  • Relax with confidence, not crack or freeze under pressure.
  • Allow for humor, which goes a long way in creating positive experiences and demonstrating affinity with interviewers.
  • Show personality.
  • Pay attention to every first impression and interaction along the way, no matter how small (voicemails, emails, and in-person conversations).

Interviewers use psychology in their hiring processes, in many cases unconsciously. However, when aware of the power of the mind, they can harness this psychology to help develop rock-solid strategies and interview techniques that enable them to identify the best talent and make smart, well-informed hiring decisions.

Cangrade uses psychological practices to provide the most accurate, reliable, and unbiased method of predicting workforce success. Interested in adding pre-hiring assessments to your recruiting strategy? Schedule a Cangrade demo today.

About HiringThing 

HiringThing is committed to making hiring seamless for everyone, which we call our patented Hiring Happiness®! What’s our secret? Great technology, superior implementation, and outstanding customer support.

Our award-winning ATS combines flawless integration with professional customization to empower HiringThing users to grow their teams and businesses. Want to see for yourself? Schedule a free demo!

Author: Alisiana Peters

Alisiana is a senior marketing coordinator at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.