We are all familiar with the laws of attraction, specifically the law, “like attracts like.” Apparent in its name, the “like attracts like” law states that people tend to attract other people who are similar to them. Everyone has experienced the theory of attraction at least once. An example goes as follows; a stranger at a party compliments your t-shirt, which has the logo of your alma mater on it: you both went to the same college. As you get to talking, you find out that you used to go to the same bars, lived in the same dorm freshman year, and even had the same professor. These commonalities allow you to feel more comfortable with the stranger who approached you, thinking that they are much like you, even though you most likely have nothing more in common past where you went to college. In a setting like a party or a bar, this theory of “like attracts like” helps individuals socialize and meet others and is viewed in a positive manner.  

However, this theory of “like attracts like” also presents itself in situations in which it is not seen so positively, like the interview process. While many managers and bosses deny that they allow the “like attracts like” theory to influence their decisions in the interview process, it is actually quite common. In fact, its is so common that numerous articles and books regarding the interview process advice individuals that, “if [they] want to get hired, act like [their] potential boss.” This idea of “like attracts like” presenting itself in the interview process stems from not having a set of well-defined criteria that lays out the necessary merit for the potential hire of each specific job within the company. In turn, bosses and managers fall back on themselves and their own merit as a tool for comparison to evaluate candidates. They think that they themselves work well in the company, and so the interviewee who is similar to them will do well in the company as well. This is an issue for two main reasons, but in order to understand these, we must first understand another psychological theory, which is the idea that there are four categories that drive behavior within people.  

An individual can either be a “people” person, a “things” person, a “task” person, or an “ideas” person. Going back to the “like attracts like” theory, you tend to be drawn to people who is the same “person” as you. So, if you are an “ideas” person, you will most likely hire the candidate who is also an “ideas” person, because you are drawn to the innovative spirit that they embody, and they remind you of yourself. However, let’s say that you are an “ideas” person, hiring a potential candidate for a sales role. If you hire another “ideas” person, just because you are similar to them, rather than hiring a “people person,” you are immediately setting up that candidate to fail as an “ideas” person is not likely to succeed in a sales role. 

The second reason why this theory of “like attracts like” is detrimental when it comes to the interview process is because when you continuously hire people who are just like you, you are going to have an entire company of people who are the exact same. Every company needs variation; they need thinkers as well as doers, they need procrastinators and action takers, they need introverts and extroverts, they need planners and actors. This is because all of these skill sets and personalities compliment one another and create a working machine. While chemistry is certainly necessary in the workplace, differing thoughts and even some conflict every once in a while is what allows innovation and gets things done.  

So, as a boss or a manager, remind yourself before you enter an interview that just because you have commonalities with the individual you are interviewing, does not mean that they are going to be properly suited for the job that they are applying for.  

Jim Baker

Jim Baker

Sumus was founded by Jim Baker, an entrepreneur with 27 years’ experience bootstrapping and growing his business organically and through acquisition, to share his experience by providing advisory services around Board representation, Organization and Branding Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions, Value enhancement and Exit strategy.