360 Talent Solutions

6 Types of Hiring Biases and How to Overcome Them

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Recruiting without bias is a challenge that many hiring managers face, yet it is essential to prevent discriminating against candidates and make fair hiring decisions. Bias can impact the recruiting process by causing recruiters to miss out on highly qualified applicants and sometimes leading to poor hiring decisions. In fact, biases can influence our decisions to such an extent that we can make choices that favor one candidate or group over others, which can impact team satisfaction, a company’s bottom line and society in general.

It is crucial to recognize the types of unconscious biases that can occur during the hiring process to prevent them from affecting your decision-making. There are six common types of biases that recruiters need to be aware of.

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1. First Impression Error

Virtual meeting on laptop

Is when your initial judgment or first impression of a candidate influences your feedback or decision. It can occur when the interviewer is affected by the candidate’s appearance, handshake, tone of voice, or video call background. Making hiring decisions based solely on first impressions can lead to poor hires because the judgments made about the candidate in the first few minutes of meeting them may not be an accurate indication of their skills or motivation.

To overcome first impression error:

it is best to evaluate a candidate in multiple contexts and give them the chance to leave multiple impressions.

2. Group Think

This bias occurs when recruiters allow the opinions of others to affect their feedback or decision. It is easy to fall into the trap of going along with the team’s thinking, especially if a team member has a strong opinion about a candidate. However, this can lead to conformity bias, which is a form of bias.

To overcome group think:

Make sure you form your own opinion of a candidate by agreeing not to share opinions with colleagues too early. Document your evaluation before allowing it to be influenced by others.

3. Halo/horns effect

This bias is when one major strength or weakness of the candidate, or one likable or dislikeable quality, influences the overall feedback or decision rather than thinking holistically. For example, the halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of the candidate makes the recruiter overlook the other flaws, whereas the horns effect happens when one negative aspect of the candidate’s personality causes the recruiter to overlook their strengths.

To overcome the halo effect:

Always back up your opinion with rational statements when discussing candidates and their qualities with your colleagues. This approach will help you to back up your gut feeling with clear, rational reasoning and inform your hiring team too.

Behavioral assessments can be an effective tool to help recruiters overcome the halo effect in recruitment. By providing objective data on a candidate’s behavior and skills, these assessments can help recruiters make informed hiring decisions that are not influenced by their subjective biases.

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Making a hiring decision is a crucial step for any company, and it’s important to ensure that the process is unbiased and fair. However, even the most experienced recruiters can fall prey to a phenomenon known as the halo effect.

4. Similarity Bias

Three colleagues interviewing a candidate

This bias occurs when interviewers favor candidates who look like them or have something in common with them. According to a study by Northwestern University, most interviewers search for people who look like them or share their interests. However, this bias can undermine the hiring process by favoring certain candidates and ignoring highly qualified ones.

To overcome similarity bias:

It is essential to focus on the candidate’s qualifications, experience, and skills.

5. Gender Bias

Can happen when recruiters favor one gender over the other. It can occur in different forms, including gender stereotyping or not offering equal opportunities to candidates based on their gender.

To overcome gender bias:

Ensure that the interview questions and evaluation criteria are the same for all candidates, regardless of gender. Avoid asking questions that are based on gender stereotypes or assumptions, and focus on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

6. Cluster Illusion

Virtual meeting on laptop

This bias occurs when a recruiter forms an opinion about the candidate based on other similar candidates they have evaluated. It can lead to stereotyping and a lack character flaw or an aspect of their personality, influences your decision not to hire them.

To overcome cluster illusion:

Ensure that the evaluation criteria are comprehensive and include all relevant qualifications and experience. Avoid focusing solely on one or two characteristics of the candidate and make sure to consider them as a whole.

Final Thoughts

It is essential to avoid hiring biases because they are shaped by unconscious biases that influence the way we perceive reality and make decisions. If biases are left unchecked, we risk overlooking talented candidates and undermining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. This can have negative impacts on team satisfaction, a company’s bottom line, and society in general.

By recognizing bias within ourselves, we can move towards unbiased hiring. This can help us choose from a more diverse talent pool, improve candidates’ application experiences, hire skilled candidates based on facts rather than feelings, avoid costly mis-hires, and create a sense of belonging that encourages team members to stay with the company longer. Having a diverse and inclusive team comes with many benefits.

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Small businesses rely heavily on the talent they hire, and as such, it is essential for them to be strategic in their recruitment process. It can be difficult to attract top talent, especially when competing with larger, more established companies.

How Can We Help

For the past 10 years, we have been supporting the growth of start ups, scale ups, and SMEs.  We show them how to incorporate more meaningful data to make better hiring decisions, which saves them time and money.  We are wellequipped to handle the unique challenges of small businesses and help to level the playing field in the pursuit of top talent.

With our experience and resources, we are able to provide a smooth transition into the company culture and ensure that new hires have an enjoyable onboarding experience.

If you are interested in learning more or are ready to start your next hire, contact me today, I will be happy to help.

Let’s get started!

Dave Crumby

Founder at 360 Talent Solutions

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