I was reading about decision
fatigue and wondering if it
accounts for more major events than we give it credit for. The idea is at least
spreading a little bit in certain circles, but doesn’t get the wider attention
“One research study found that the decisions judges make are strongly
influenced by how long it has been since their last break. “We find that the
percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from ≈65% to nearly zero
within each decision session and returns abruptly to ≈65% after a break.””
– quote via Wikipedia
Another example is job interviewing. Companies, schools and other organisations
run recruitment events such as campus recruitment, job fairs and speed
recruitment where interviewers see and potentially make decisions on multiple
candidates within a session. This seems pretty disastrous considering the
importance of those decisions for both the candidate and the hiring
Based on my personal experience of interviewing what I’d estimate is 100 to 150
job candidates so far in my career, I don’t think it’s possible to run quality
interviews or make strong decisions on more than three candidates in a day.
Three in a day was mentally exhausting on the rare occasions I have done it,
even with breaks.
When organisations run events where a single decision maker tries to make
decisions on more than three candidates in a day, let alone in a single session
without breaks, I’m confident that the quality of decision making quickly
becomes atrocious. This also applies when a decision maker is receiving
applications or reviewing CVs one after another – I don’t believe it’s possible
to keep up a high standard of decision making for such complex and important
decisions when trying to process so many.
Whether or not you get hired or even get a call back could be down to the time
of day someone happened to look at your application.
I doubt that most organisations even collect statistics on the time of day or
sequence number of each decision and the result of the decision, but I’d be
willing to bet some money that there would be a pretty clear trend in such data,
similar to the study that Wikipedia quotes on the decisions of judges.
The next conclusion to draw from that is that a lot of major decisions are more
random than we tend to believe. It’s an increasingly common observation but is
always interesting to think about with its wide-reaching implications.
Decision fatigue and job interviewing