High-volume recruiting is on everyone’s lips. Selection processes can make many participants sweat. This can be caused by particularly nasty questions from inquisitive recruiters, or sometimes simply the weather. When outside temperatures climb, offices can crank the air conditioning so much it feels like a type of torture. But does temperature has an influence on selection decisions?

Weather and selection decisions

While some HR decision-makers like to brag about making decisions based on gut feeling, others consider the Six Sigma when making their decisions. Completely objective, incorruptible and imperturbable- especially not by the weather.

Even advocates of rational choice theory see that people are not always rational and objective. Behavioural economists also like to empirically test this (here is a presentation on this topic by Dan Ariely).

Simonsohn (2007) found students were more likely to enrol in a university if they visited it on a cloudy day than if they had visited on a sunny day. What is the situation in extreme heat?

Heat and selection decisions

From our ad hoc research, it was found that both cold and warm temperatures decreases cognitive performance. Dramatic effects were particularly seen for temperatures higher than 32° Celsius. This is especially true for reasoning, learning, and memory tasks. On average, performance dropped by a whopping 18%. For the selection context this means: candidates undertaking an online test in a loft-style apartment in 32 degree heat will be 18% worse on average than if they had taken the same test in an environment of 18-21°C. For recruiters, performance is also decreased: one remembers less, is less attentive and will certainly not make a better hiring decision than in a pleasant 21°C room.

Pilcher et al. (2002)

So: What to do with high-heat-Recruiting?
  1. Air conditioning helps: while this is not very environmentally friendly, those sitting in an air conditioned building, will keep a cool head in hot weather – and applicants will not so easily sweat.
  2. Conduct the interview in the nearest air-conditioned cafe. A good side effect will be that you will create a more pleasant interview atmosphere.
    Recruiters and applicants simply call it a day til the weather becomes more bearable…
  3. Big Data: Mine all data and match with historical weather figures. Use a regression model (or predictive analytics – sounds fancier) to determine the effect of the weather on the interview and correct the values.