Hidden Biases

9 Biases Affecting Your Hiring Process

The process of hiring a new person is heavily shaped by a number of different biases in your recruiting team, conscious or not. These biases influence the process from the moment you receive resumes and motivational letters up until the final decision is taken. Oh dear.

What do we mean by biases?

Many biases can be subconscious but still affect day to day decisions. Such a bias could stem from the way we were raised, to the messages we’ve been exposed to within our communities and from the media. All can be contributing factors to our internal biases. You could argue that we automatically form biases as a “short cut” to help us better process the large amount of information we consume on a daily basis and to help us make faster decisions. Scientists estimate we make up to 35,000 decisions in a day! Recruiters may “trust instinct” when reviewing and interviewing potential candidates. The problem is that these instincts can be heavily grounded in unconscious biases, which are bad for the company.

Why does it matter?

We believe a diverse workplace means a company that is more innovative, sharper and rooted in critical thought. Diversity leads to success in business, according to BCG, but we also believe it’s important on a personal level. Working with people from different backgrounds, walks of life and realities broadens our horizons and makes us more productive, motivated and creative. Needless to say, all of this means higher profits for the firm.

Become aware of your biases

Our biases can be responsible for inhibiting diversity in our workplaces. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most prevalent biases that are probably affecting your hiring process:  
  1. Affinity bias – we tend to be drawn to people who are similar to us. This could mean anything from gender, ethnicity, age or even being drawn to someone because they remind you of yourself when you were younger.
  2. Confirmation bias –  this is when you actively seek out information that will confirm your personal beliefs. Say you believe that a well-designed resume is the sign of a good candidate and someone submits one that catches your attention. It is more difficult for you to identify and accept any undesirable qualities they present after that point.
  3. Projection bias – this is when you believe a candidate shares your own goals and beliefs because of something they say or do. You falsely project certain character traits onto them which might not necessarily be true.
  4. Halo effect – imagine a prospective candidate exhibits impressive graphic design skills which are important to the position you’re looking to fill. It is a lot harder for you to pick up on any undesirable traits after they have ticked your “design box”.
  5. Pitchfork effect – the opposite of the halo effect. When you hear or notice something negative about a candidate and assume the rest will be the same. This is particularly common after a candidate starts out an interview a little shaky.
  6. Status quo bias – have you ever had a great employee resign and caught yourself trying to hire someone who is as similar to them as possible? This limits your selection process and could make you overlook some great candidates.
  7. Nonverbal bias – This bias is focused on superficial things like tattoos, dress sense, hairstyle and your opinions of them.
  8. Expectation Anchor – Very often, you could interview a really good candidate early on and do not give any of the following candidates the attention and focus they deserve because you’ve already made up your mind.
  9. Conformity bias – This happens among selection committees or panels. If one member of the group has a different opinion from the rest, they will often change their opinions to conform to those of their peers.
Are you a recruiter worried about biases influencing your hiring process? Check out this piece on how AI-powered technology (like Mockmate) can help you reduce biases and ensure you employ the right people for your team.

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