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Referral Program Design: Recognition versus Recall

By: James Dix Thursday March 20, 2014 comments Tags: HR, Human Resources, Recruiting, Referral Link, Sourcing

The human brain is a highly complex organ, and two ways to retrieve information tucked away in memory are recognition and recall. To put it simply, the difference between recognition and recall is whether or not stimulus is present; recall lacks stimulus. A fill-in-the-blank test requires recalling the correct answer whereas a multiple choice test requires recognizing the correct answer from a list. Recall tends to be harder because it lacks hints to point the brain in the right direction.


The concept of recognition being superior to recall can be seen in the design of computer applications. Instead of having to memorize thousands of commands to input with a keyboard, there are icons to represent functions, and if the icons are designed properly, the brain can recognize what function the icon represents. For example, email is often represented with an icon resembling a snail-mail letter. Being able to look at all the options and recognize the appropriate one is easier than trying to recall all the options.

FiboLisaThe more familiar someone is with an image, the smaller the thumbnail can be for the brain to recognize the original




Now, to put this in terms of the HR world, what would happen if an employee were asked if he or she could refer any qualified people for an open position? The employee could try to recall everyone who might be a good fit, but that would lead to forgetting people that don't immediately spring to mind. It could potentially leave out great referrals. On the other hand, the employee could go through his or her entire social media contact list one-by-one to determine who is qualified, who is a hard worker, and who fits in with corporate culture. While this would create a more complete list of referrals, the process is too time consuming, especially for someone with over one hundred contacts.

That's where Referral Link comes in.

Within milliseconds, Referral Link sorts through an employee's contacts and finds only the qualified people for an open position. This list is then presented to the employee. Essentially Referral Link shows a name and a face and asks, "Would you refer this person?" It's quick, it's simple, and it doesn't rely on recall.

It's much easier for an employee to recognize a phenomenal referral than to recall one.

About the Author: James Dix