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Is Neuroscience The Key To Better Hiring Practices?

Neuroscience is a fairly self-explanatory word - the science of how the brain works. And it's an important factor in how we hire and whether we make good hiring decisions. It can explain why your practices are what they are. But it can't transform them.

Understanding how the brain handles different phases of sourcing and hiring gives you an awareness of how your policies and procedures developed. But awareness is just information; it's not a solution. For that, you need to circumvent neuroscience and dive into technology that makes choices based on data, not preprogrammed brain responses.

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Why Neuroscience Matters in Hiring

Neuroscience can reveal "whether there is an evidence-base for the way you manage your businesses." That's according to Jan Hills, author of Brain Savvy HR: A Neuroscience Evidence Base.

In an interview with Recruiting Social, Hills explained that while neuroscience can't implement a hiring strategy, it can "help you establish a better hiring process or policy." For example, understanding how the brain handles certain stressful situations can help you create a better interview process.

If you arbitrarily stress out interviewees just to gauge how they handle it, the reaction that you see might not reveal what you think it does. It might also color other aspects of the interview, which makes for an overall bad experience and unreliable information about the candidate.


Brain synapses carry the tales of why decisions are made.

How Awareness Helps Shape Better Sourcing and Hiring Practices

The classic candidate elimination process is another area where Hill believes neuroscience can make a positive difference. Instead of measuring candidate personality, qualifications and skills against the needs of the company to eliminate who doesn't fit.

She thinks a better approach is to create a social interaction environment where the interview tone is the same as day-to-day life in the office. Even better, invite candidates to spend time in the office for the day, she suggests.

You'll gain a much better understanding of how candidates fit with company culture when they're interacting there instead of across an interview table. And the same applies in reverse: candidates will gain a better understanding of whether or not they want to work there.

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Technology Can Eliminate the Effect of Some Biases

Human brains evolved a certain way to help process information more quickly and efficiently. Part of the natural evolution was the development of bias. That might be surprising since bias is usually viewed in a negative light. But without bias, Hills asserts that we'd never get anything done.

"If we didn't have those shortcuts, we wouldn't be able to cope with all the data in the world. We'd be totally overloaded just having a conversation."

So what to do about overcoming personal bias? In short, you can't. But you can work around its effects. Technology helps with that.

For example, candidate matching helps connect your job ads with candidates based on specific criteria that you determine in advance. And technology can enable you to source without knowing age, gender or even the college where an applicant graduated. It's called "blind recruiting," and it lets you decide how much or how little you want to know before you extend a job offer. If you can't overcome a problem, make the problem a non-issue.

Neuroscience doesn't hold the key to better sourcing and hiring decisions. But it clarifies the thought process behind them. So when you know that an approach is flawed or even that the results of a process aren't where you'd like them to be, you can alter your course.

Sometimes you can do that through conscious efforts, such as changing up your interview process. And sometimes you need the unbiased help of technology. Neuroscience won't improve sourcing and hiring for you, but it's a good roadmap that helps you find a better way.

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Chris Atkins

Chris Atkins is passionate about making marketing what it should be...a conversation no matter what the medium may be. Now, he turns his skills into valuable education pieces for Talent Acquisition professionals as the world of HR adopts the principals of marketing.

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