Leniency, Strictness, and Central Tendency

These errors pertain to overall ratings. They are generally found after performing multiple evaluations as opposed to an isolated case such as the ‘Similar to Me’ or ‘Halo/Horn’ Effect.

For example, if after interviewing five candidates, John Doe rates all candidates with an “Excellent” rating, one might suspect the leniency error has taken place. While it is possible five candidates could meet exceptional criteria, if you have a standard distribution of candidates interviewing, then the ratings should reflect the proportions accordingly:poor, below average, average, above average, and exceptional.

Strictness is the inverse of the leniency effect. Jane Doe conducts a performance appraisal on five candidates and all are rated poor. The same principles apply here. Given a standard distribution, candidates should fall into given marks.

The central tendency error is a ratings error that deems all candidates ‘mediocre’. No one is exceptionally strong or poor, all are equally average. It is the communist society of rater errors- haha.

Advice to the interviewer: rate each individual on a case by case basis. Each person is unique, and even though you use a standardized criteria to rate the candidates, each should stand out in some aspect.

Advice to the interviewee: Strive to stand out. Of these three errors, the worst to receive, in my opinion, is a central tendency effect. Whether you are really good, or horrifically bad, it pays to stand out. Think about William Hung. He recorded one of the all time worst performances in American Idol history; however, he remains a household name because of the impression he made.

When a decision gets made, you surely won’t be named if no one remembers you.

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