There's an old adage in recruitment - if people are left to their own devices, they will typically recruit people who are strikingly like themselves. Rather than taking my typical approach of tracking down some research to back me up on that, I was fortunate enough to see a perfect example unfold before my very eyes. My family have been fans of the Australian version of MasterChef for a couple of years now, and so it is little surprise that we tuned into the grand finale last night. MasterChef is produced in over 35 countries, so chances are you may have stumbled across the show before.
It basically involves amateur cooks undertaking a range of challenges to become (insert country name here)'s MasterChef. As part of last night's Australian grand finale, the remaining three contenders were allowed to each choose two people out of the previous contestants to help them complete one of the challenges. And you won't be surprised to learn that despite the broad range of options available to them, each contestant chose two people who were the most similar to them. As you can see from the picture (taken from http://www.theage.com.au/tv/Series/MasterChef-4260195.html), the three contenders for MasterChef are wearing white chef-y type shirts, while their chosen helpers stand next to them in aprons. While the groups look similar in terms of gender and cultural heritage, people who have been following the show will also have noticed similarities in their approach and personalities as well. They basically chose the closest thing they could to recruiting themselves.
So why do we tend to recruit people just like us? Well, it's easy, isn't it. We know how we think and approach things, so it's often easiest to manage people who think and work the same way we do. And is this a problem? Well, it often turns out to be in the long run. Rather than looking at what the job requires and what each candidate will bring, we're 'drawn' to particular people who are similar to us. When we take this approach, we miss out on the benefits that diversity brings to our workplaces. While gender and cultural diversity are those most often cited, we could easily include diversity of opinions, approaches and views. It's this diversity that allows us to avoid pitfalls, address a broader range of issues more effectively, and deliver the best outcomes for our customers and clients.
So next time you're hiring, take a moment to consider what MasterChef can teach us about recruitment. Make sure you focus on the job requirements and the best ways of gathering evidence about how each candidate measures up. Get another opinion by involving someone else in the selection process. By being aware of this risk you'll help to build a more diverse and capable workforce.