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Matchmaking Techniques Can Help Recruiters Hook Up with Amazing Talent

Without going too far into the weeds, I believe it’s fair to say that recruiting and matchmaking share much in common. Think about dating. We “date” all the time, and that reaches beyond romantic[...]

December 11, 2018

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Hiring Bias: Hidden Biases That Affect the Hiring Process

Companies often pride themselves on their diversity in the workforce, but the hidden danger of recruiting bias means that you are limiting your candidate selection during the hiring process. Maybe you don’t even know you’re doing it, but everyone has internal biases, whether conscious or unconscious. Recruiters and hiring managers especially need to overcome their hidden biases to help continue to diversify the market.

Besides the most common bias that are already being tackled, like gender bias in hiring , the workplace is rife with unconscious bias, and since you aren’t aware of it, it’s hard to stamp out. It’s detrimental to employees, both current and prospective, recruiters, and companies themselves. Unconscious bias can inhibit diversity, recruitment efforts, promotions and the retention rate in companies. For being an unknown factor, bias has a lot of harmful side effects.

Are You Guilty of These Common Biases?

The good news is that once you know about your own hidden biases, you can take steps to correct them with knowledge and training. This means that you won’t always be affected by them, or, if you are, at least to a lesser extent. What exactly are these biases that might be affecting your hiring decisions? Listed below are some of the more prevalent ones.

 

1. Confirmation bias: Confirmation bias means you only take in information that confirms your beliefs and ignore everything else. It also means you don’t look for details or under the surface since you believe your first impression. If you see a well-dressed candidate or resume or both, and you think that means they are a good candidate, then you will ignore anything negative about them after that. This generally means that you form your opinion, positive or negative, based on one detail (like from a from a resume) and simply see everything as confirming that opinion or unimportant.

2. Affinity bias: This is where you identify with a candidate based on a similar or likable trait, so you act warmer towards them during the interview and speak better of them afterwards. There was no real basis for this warmth, just a feeling, which is subjective and can hurt other candidates.

3. Similarity bias (Ingroup bias): Similarity bias means you want to hire those most like you (same group interests or hobbies, etc.). While this is a great way to make friends, it’s not going to be a successful tactic for hiring the best, unless they are applying for your job. You need to remember that other jobs have different competencies and, on top of that, you want diversity in the workplace. Nepotism and other issues are no one’s friends.

4. Projection bias: You believe that others share your own goals, beliefs, etc., and so you think they’d be good for the company you are hiring for. But people have their own priorities and goals that have nothing to do with you and yours, so assuming this just leads to confusion and disappointment.

5. Halo effect: The halo effect is where you think that since the person is good at A, they will also be good at B, C, and D. But you need to see if they have the requisite skills and not judge the candidate based on one trait.

6. Pitchfork effect: This is the opposite of the halo effect where you see or hear something negative and then assume all the candidate’s other traits are negative too. For example, during an interview, if the candidate answers the first couple of questions badly, you think they’ll answer everything that way and assume they’re not qualified for the job.

7. Status quo bias: The status quo bias is where you like everything the way it is and want it to stay that way. There are two sides to this coin: a) You are only looking for past experience to find a good candidate, which means you miss out on someone just entering the field, but who could be perfect. This means you keep focusing on those already in the field while ignoring fresh talent. b) Or, if you are filling a position that was previously held by someone you liked, you’ll try to get a carbon copy of them in the next hire, which adds internal blinders to your search for the best candidate.

8. Nonverbal bias/Effective Heuristic: This is where you judge a candidate’s ability to do the job based on a superficial trait like tattoos or body weight. However, a one-dimensional characteristic doesn’t mean you can perform a full analysis to see if they are qualified. (It’s also dangerous on legal grounds, beware.) For example, if you think CEOs should be tall, then you will discount anyone shorter than your assumed cut-off.

9. Expectation Anchor: You are convinced that an earlier candidate was the best for the job, so you don’t take into consideration any of the later candidates even while still conducting interviews.

10. Contrast effect: The contrast effect happens when you are seeing at a ton of resumes or interviews in a row, and so you start to compare how they are to the previous candidates, even though you should be comparing individual skills and experiences to the job posting only.

11. Conformity bias: This bias is where, if you form a different opinion than the rest of a group, you’re more likely to change your mind to agree with them. This can be seen as the “Majority rules” idea or the “Mob mentality” that happens when a group of people form and one idea takes hold even when not everyone agrees with it.

Clearly, there are quite a few biases you need to be aware of. These biases make hiring an even more difficult process since you don’t even realize that you might be missing out on the best candidates already when you believe your first impressions and take things at face value.

But, fear not, there are ways to beat back these biases. And we will tell you on next week's article - How to Avoid Hidden Bias in Recruiting.

 

 

Scott Giroux
Scott Giroux
20+ year veteran of all things staffing and recruiting. Proven innovator and leader adept at building long-term relationships and managing teams for growth. Dedicated to helping talent suppliers be successful by leveraging emerging technologies.
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