Are you hiring the best or playmates?

After 26 years in big companies, I don't miss the process of interviewing for a new job.  One of the rules I tell people is they almost never tell you why you didn't get the job.  The bottom line is whether they liked you more than the rest of the candidates, not whether you are best for the job.  This advice can come off cynical.  But, guess what here is research that shows employers are more interested in hiring their playmates than the best.

Employers Often More Interested in Hiring Potential Playmates Than the Very Best

WASHINGTON, DC, November 27, 2012 — Employers are often more focused on hiring someone they
would like to hang out with than they are on finding the person who can best do the job, suggests a study
in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

“Of course, employers are looking for people who have the baseline of skills to effectively do the job,” said
study author Lauren A. Rivera, an assistant professor of management and organizations and sociology at
Northwestern University. “But, beyond that, employers really want people who they will bond with, who
they will feel good around, who will be their friend and maybe even their romantic partner. As a result,
employers don’t necessarily hire the most skilled candidates.”

Do you find yourself stuck in this rut?

Do you have a similar level of education? Did you go to a similar caliber school? Do you enjoy similar activities? 

Are you excited to talk to each other? Do you feel the spark? These types of things are salient at least to
the employers I’ve studied.”

If you find there is little diversity in an organization your chances are probably low to get a job or to hire someone who isn't like the rest.  Even though you may be open to the best, different candidate, your peers influence the hiring.

The study also found that the cultural similarities valued at elite professional service firms have important
socioeconomic dimensions. “Evaluators are predominately white, Ivy League-educated, upper-middle or
upper class men and women who tend to have more stereotypically masculine leisure pursuits and favor
extracurricular activities associated with people of their background,” Rivera said. “

Think about this as Data Center companies are not known for its diversity.  There are exceptions to this rule, and I try to spend more time with these companies as they have focused on hiring the best, and not their playmates.