From February, 2016

We Determine A Person’s Trustworthiness Pretty Darn Quickly!

New research out of Columbia Business School suggests that you can predict someone’s trustworthiness just by looking at their face.  This may seem shocking to some while to others they have read research girl-102829_640like this for years, but the reason why we have such an ability will surprise many.  According to the findings we act the way we are perceived.  One of the researchers suggests that individuals have an awareness of how people will judge them, they then internalize these expectations and behave accordingly.  In short, if you are perceived as trustworthy you will tend to act in a trustworthy manner.  On the flip side, if you are perceived as untrustworthy, you will behave as untrustworthy.

Though the study focused on and only measured trustworthiness, I wonder how many other behaviors are affected by people’s perceptions.  “Thin slicing”, as psychologists call it, is the process by which individuals rate people for numerous attributes within seconds of meeting them.  In some instances the predictions are fairly accurate while in others, not so much, but the perception still persists.  For instance men with shaved heads are perceived as dominant.  This does not mean that all men or even the majority with shaved heads are indeed dominant just that most people believe they are.

My question is, if we become more trustworthy when perceived as such, might not we also internalize other perceptions and act accordingly?  If someone perceives me as dominant for example might I not recognize this and behave in a similar fashion?

Following are a number of assumptions made about us within seconds.

  • Trustworthiness
  • Economic status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Intelligence
  • Dominance
  • Level of success
  • If you are adventurous
  • If you are aggressive
  • If you are religious
  • Your competence
  • If you are conscientious

Surely a few of these like economic status and level of success can be faked with a nice suit and expensive watch or jewelry but many others cannot.  Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame NFL defensive player, was once asked why he wore such nice suits to the games.  He replied, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.  If you play good, they pay good!” His statement makes sense.  If fancy clothes help us to feel better about ourselves so too would other people’s notions of us.  If another considered me as successful, might I not take on an attitude that exudes success?  Likewise with intelligence, competence and conscientiousness, these traits too could manifest themselves in an individual who is perceived to possess them.   Conscientiousness is, as I have written before, the personality trait that best determines success.

With at least trustworthiness Columbia has provided data showing how our perceptions influence others.  As an interviewer how then do you relate to your job candidates?  Are we unwittingly influencing their behaviors for better or worse during job interviews?  If we treat them good during the interview will they always feel good and play good on the job?  Are we really seeing the true candidate or just the candidate we perceive them to be?

How Google Plans To Conquer Its Unconscious Biases

Google’s diversity numbers in 2014 were less than impressive.  Overall 70% of the company was male and 61% was white.  Asians made up 30% with African-Americans pulling up the rear in a tiny 2% caboose.  To increase the thin number of minorities, Google is having an estimated 60,000 of its employees undergo training to combat the unconscious biases that plague us all. google-485611_640

Business Insider was permitted to publish the slide deck for Google’s diversity training.  Here are a few key takeaways.

  • We consciously process only 40 bits of the 11 million bits of information we receive every moment
  • 99.99% of information we receive is unconsciously processed.
  • Companies with higher proportions of board directors that were women outperformed others by 53%
  • Diverse teams out perform others, especially when handling complex problems
  • Structured job interviews increase fairness, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Traits for good managers are overwhelmingly associated with men than with women.
  • Asking for feedback on hires or promotions can increase diversity
  • Socializing with a more diverse group increases the amount of information to which you have access
  • We all have biases.

The overall picture is that diversity is good but we are pretty bad at recognizing and ignoring our unconscious biases. Google recommends the following to their employees to combat this.

  • Use structured interviews which give all job candidates a fair shot. As a proponent of video interviewing, I have seen personally how video interviewing’s structured interview process reduces discrimination.
  • Collect data to measure progress and spot patterns of bias. For instance in 2013 Google discovered that 77% of its homepage Doodles celebrated the birthdays of famous male leaders and innovators.  In 2014 they made sure to evenly split their celebrations of men and women.
  • Hold yourself and others accountable.  Get feedback on your decisions. Call out others’ decisions.  Make decisions as a group.  A good example of group decision making is collaboration on reviewing the video interviews of job candidates during the hiring process.  This allows other genders and ethnicities to voice their opinions.

Research is continuing to prove that a more colorful workforce is better than any one color alone.  Look outside your office window!  Notice anything missing?

Shocking! Research Reveals We Aren’t Happy At Work.

Well I can’t really say “We” since this study focused on Brits and I’m a Yank but in terms of work attitudes we really aren’t so different from our neighbors across the pond.  A five plus year study of tens of girl-1064659_640thousands of British people which included over a million responses revealed that the only thing we like less than work is being sick.  According to the study people hated working more than doing housework, commuting, or even waiting in line.

University of Sussex economist, Dr. George MacKerron, explains, “Although we may be positive about our jobs when reflecting on the meaning and purpose they give us, and the money they provide, actually engaging in paid work comes at a significant psychological cost.”

Researchers found work to be so painful that our happiness decreases by 7% to 8% compared to when we are not working.  Ouch!  Admittedly I might rather be at the beach than writing this post but I can’t say I’d rather be standing in line.

Since 2000, Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. and for the past 15 years our engagement has remained low.  According to their survey, engagement, meaning the worker is enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace, stands at 32% for 2015.  This is up a staggering half percentage point from 2014.  Worldwide engagement rests at only 13%.  Workers outside the U.S. must either have deplorable work conditions or their leisurely activities in which they’d rather engage must be way better than ours.

So if we make an assumption that happy employees tend to be more engaged, and evidence suggests this is true, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see such low engagement numbers if sitting in traffic is considered more fun than working.

Could happiness have a downside though? According to this article happiness provides several drawbacks:

  • Pursuing happiness can leave us unfulfilled when we don’t achieve it.
  • Happy people are worse at picking out acts of deception
  • Happy people aren’t as good at negotiating
  • People happy with their jobs are more devastated when they lose them
  • Research shows that happy people act more selfishly

The bottom line here is that not everyone feels fulfilled by their job and you can’t make all the workers happy all the time.  Even if you could, research suggests that constant happiness sometimes puts one at a disadvantage.

Are you really happy worrying about your employees’ happiness or would you be happier thinking about something else?  That’s right, doing something else.  Work is called work for a reason.  We aren’t necessarily supposed to be happy while doing it, but happy with what it gives us.

4 Benefits of Recruiting Via Online Platforms

The possibility of hiring people online has changed the recruitment market immensely. Almost every bigger company uses online recruiting methods in one way or another. There are just so many possibilities. ©Unsplash_keyboard-690066

Social recruitment is one of those. It means using social networks to reach and pick out potential employees. Freelancing websites are another one. They are a great way to find and contact a lot of external talents. Last but not least, a lot of companies use online as an easy way to support their offline recruitment methods. For example by posting their offer on their website.

But why are companies so crazy about online recruitment? All the ways described above have their specific advantages and disadvantages. But recruiting online is inherently different than previous methods. In this article, we’ve put together the 4 main benefits of finding new employees or external experts online.

  1. Faster recruiting process

To start it off with an obvious one, recruiting online yields results much quicker than traditional methods. Here’s what it takes to make an offline job ad – contact newspaper to insert ad, get it approved, wait for print, wait for delivery, wait for candidate response. You’ll notice the word wait three times at the end there. Here’s the online process – post on platform of your own choosing, wait for candidate response.

These examples are a bit oversimplified, but you get the idea. Candidates can view your online job offer right away, 24 hours a day and response as quickly as they can. Waiting for CVs or other documents to physically reach you is simply inefficient when compared to online alternatives. A faster recruitment process means your company gets the workforce it needs sooner.

  1. Reduced costs

It costs less. Not only is it cheaper in general, in some cases it comes with no additional financial costs, e.g. social recruitment via Facebook or LinkedIn. Professional online recruiting platforms will cost more than your Facebook page, but the bottom line should still come out in your favor.

And it’s not just monetary savings either. Online recruitment also saves your HR department time. This means they have more time to optimize working processes, train your employees and pick out the best prospects for that job opening. Another online specific advantage is the fact that you can always change your ad or posting relatively easily compared to offline methods.

  1. No geographical barriers

It doesn’t matter where you are anymore. Your target audience doesn’t have to be in a specific region to get the TV ad, the newspaper, see a poster or pick up a flyer. They just have to be using certain online services. This means you can access a global market of experts. You all know the advantages of outsourcing – it can be cheaper and bring very valuable talent and experience that maybe just isn’t there in your region.

  1. Filtering possibilities

A larger pool of candidates to pick from might seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Statistically, the more people you reach, the more likely it is that the people you are looking for are among them. If you use external services, for example, you will be able to look for people who work in a specific niche or have plenty of experience in the field you want. You can filter by region, language, and sometimes even expected pay. This won’t be the case if you’re using other forms of online recruitment. However, with the emergence of trends like Big Data, more companies are using their databases to help determine which employees are most likely to be hired.

Of course, offline recruitment can still be useful in some cases. But if you’re not using any online channel or platform for finding candidates in 2016, you’re probably doing something wrong.


Viktor Marinov is the voice behind the freelancer magazine at Every week he comes up with helpful hints, checklists and guides for freelancers and independent workers. If you would like to know how to find remote jobs online or how to niche yourself as a freelancer, check out his freelancer tips!

Cheating College Applicants Trumped by Video!

Cheating and fraud is pervasive today and no culture or industry is off limits. Many individuals’ desire to get ahead or at least get even, overwhelms their moral compass and so little white lies are told or minor beauty-718825_640transgressions are committed.  Last week for example I wrote about job candidates who misrepresent their abilities during phone interviews by looking up the answers to the questions that the interviewer poses.  Research also shows that more than half of hiring managers have caught lies on a job candidate’s resume.  Recent news now indicates that fraud in the college application process, particularly among international applicants, is growing.

By far the largest number of international students arrive from China.  Their ranks in the U.S. college system have grown to 300,000, far more than the 67,000+ enrolled a decade ago. A U.S. college education is very attractive to Chinese students and employers because with it comes the promise of English-language fluency. Lack of English skills is why the fraud begins. Compared to China, the U.S. college application process is far more complicated and non-English speaking families engage the assistance of third party consultants to complete the process and ensure their child’s application is on par with those of America students.

How deep goes the fraud? One Chinese student paid three consultants who wrote her personal essay and created the teacher recommendation letters for her. In her words, “I did feel slightly guilty but all my friends did the same thing.” Unfortunately most of these students are unaware that their applications could be considered fraudulent and result in expulsion. Their consultants often fail to disclose that little disclaimer. Additionally the students fail to consider that misrepresentation of themselves hurts their chances of finding a campus that truly suits them.  As Timothy Brunold, the University of Southern California’s Dean of Admission suggested, “They [admissions consultants] are attempting to game our system and subvert our attempts to select students who present the best fit for our institution.”

An estimated 8,000 students have been expelled since 2013 for poor grades, academic dishonesty or having others take their English-language proficiency test for them.  What many students don’t understand is that once they set foot on campus they are required to take an additional English-language test and if any part of it is failed, the students’ graduation will be delayed in order to accommodate extra language classes.

How are U.S. colleges starting to combat this level of fraud which comes from many countries, not just China? With video interviews.  Viewing a student applicant’s recorded video allows schools to better assess a student’s English speaking ability in addition to getting a feel for the candidate’s personality.  “If you believe in all the fraudulent claims, and there certainly has been some documentation out there, then the one true equalizer is getting an unscripted interview with a limited English speaker. That will put anyone’s mind to rest,” remarks Kregg Strehorn, an assistant provost at UMass.

In much the same way that video interviews help you identify candidates who may be misrepresenting their abilities on paper or during a phone interview, video reveals college applicants fluency in English. Unless applicants are desperate enough to hire an English speaking imposter, video will uncover a student’s true colors.