The Biases Behind Candidate Selection and How to Avoid Them

The way employers choose employees has changed over time and continues to evolve. Over the past century we’ve seen great improvement in the shift from hiring decisions inadvertently being made on unconscious biases to more objective factors like IQ test results. More recently, competencies listed on a well-formatted resume and the untapped potential interviewers see in candidates play increasingly important roles. Regardless of the current trends in recruitment, though, biases are always present in the hiring process and those subconscious decision-making influences may be keeping you from hiring the best candidates.

There are several types of decision-making biases to be aware of, including:

  • Anchoring bias – the tendency to fixate on initial impression and disregard subsequent information when making a judgement. This is the reason studies say it takes less than 30 seconds to make a decision about a candidate.
  • Groupthink – the tendency of people to go along with common thoughts discussed by the group. It can be easy to get caught up in groupthink when you’re participating in a panel interview. Take some time to gather your thoughts before re-grouping with your fellow interviewers so you can stand firm in your opinions.
  • Confirmation bias – the tendency to favor information that supports a preconceived idea. Say, for example, you think people who work at a certain company aren’t strong writers. If you receive a resume from someone at that company, you’ll likely be looking for signs that support the idea that the person isn’t a strong writer.
  • Stereotyping – basing perception on a generalization of one or more demographics or character traits. A studyconducted in 2011 and reported in 2017 revealed that people with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani-sounding names were 28 percent less likely to get invited to an interview than the fictitious candidates with English-sounding names, even when their qualifications were the same.

 

Bias is a part of being human. It comes along with our experiences and unique thought processes, but we can become more aware of our biases and how they may be impacting our ability to make well-informed hiring decisions. When that happens, it’ll be easier to take a step back and consider future candidates in a different way.