The Perils of “Groupthink” in Recruiting: How to Overcome It

Working together toward a common goal on a daily basis is great, right? Your team is so close you can practically complete each other’s sentences, and you know your colleagues will always have your back. This is great when it comes to getting work done, but can backfire when you’re ready to hire. Will anyone be ready to speak up when you’re making a hiring decision, or will they feel pressured to go along with the crowd?

Watch for these signs of Groupthink:


Sometimes you can really like a candidate who may not be the most highly qualified or the best fit. The danger is team members can talk each other into downplaying the candidate’s shortcomings while talking up their qualifications.  If the entire hiring team buys in, it’s a recipe for a bad hire.

Pressure to Conform

When someone does speak up, is he quickly shot down by the rest of the group? A dissenter can be treated as disloyal or not committed to the same goals. This can occur when people are tired or frustrated by an urgent need to fill a position or a hiring process that goes on too long.

Illusion of Unanimity

If people are pressured to censor themselves and each team member feels everyone else agrees, they must be in the wrong to have doubts. It also makes it difficult to accept opinions from perceived outsiders such as recruiters, because there is a belief the majority must be right.

How Can Hiring Groupthink Be Overcome?

Acknowledge the danger. When the team begins the hiring process, be sure everyone is aware that groupthink is a danger and is committed to communicating openly about their thoughts and concerns.

Appoint a leader. Choose someone who will solicit input from every team member and create an environment that fosters openness in the group.

Allow anonymous input. Paper ballot-style opinion sharing can allow each member to be open with their thoughts without being influenced by others.

Enlist a trusted advisor. Partner with a recruiter who understands your business, but doesn’t have the same level of investment or bias. They can point out factors you may not have considered and sound the alarm if your process descends into groupthink.

At Kent Legal, our recruiters connect our clients with the best legal support talent available in the greater Toronto area. To learn more about our legal recruiting services in the GTA, contact our office today.

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