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The topic of bias in hiring is a controversial one. Some believe that there are many examples of bias in hiring, while others contend that such instances are rare.
Quite often the challenge is not in detecting bias, but in identifying its source.
None of us want to believe that we'd allow bias to affect a hiring decision, especially since that decision could change the course of someone's life.
Unfortunately, research has shown that we all have biases, even when we don't intend to. It's a natural by-product of the way our brain works. The good news is that once we're aware of our biases, we can take steps to mitigate their impact.
There are two types of bias: conscious vs. unconscious bias.
Conscious bias definition is, "a bias that we are aware of and which motivates our actions and judgments."
Unconscious bias is, "a bias that we are not aware of, that happens outside of our conscious control."
Bias can present itself in many ways during the hiring process, some of which include:
1. Unconscious bias: This type of bias refers to the subtle ways our brains process information that can lead to discriminatory decision-making. An unconscious bias example would be when employers have a bias against hiring women for positions in male-dominated industries.
2. Confirmation bias: This occurs when we seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs while ignoring information that contradicts those beliefs. For example, an employer may be more likely to hire a candidate who has the same educational background as the employer.
3. Stereotyping: This involves making assumptions about someone based on their membership in a particular group. This shows up quite often as a conscious bias example in industries dominated by one specific group. For instance, "female nurses."
4. Personal bias: This type of bias occurs when we allow our personal preferences or prejudices to influence our decision-making. For example, an employer may be more likely to hire a candidate who is similar to them in terms of age, race, or religion.
5. Systematic bias: This occurs when there are systematic disparities in the way different groups of people are treated. For example, women and people of color may be less likely to be considered for positions of authority within an organization.
6. Implicit bias: This type of bias refers to the subtle ways our brains process information that can lead to discriminatory decision-making. For example, employers may have an implicit bias against hiring women for positions in male-dominated industries.
7. Structural bias: This refers to the ways that societal structures and systems can advantage some groups while putting others at a disadvantage. For example, women and people of color are often underrepresented in leadership positions.
8. Intersectional bias: This occurs when multiple forms of bias intersect, exacerbating the effects of each one. For example, a woman of color may face discrimination based on her race, gender, and other factors.
One of the best ways to equip your team with tools to overcome these biases is interview intelligence software. This software can help to level the playing field by providing semi-structured interview questions and scorecards that take the guesswork out of the hiring process.
Examples of bias statements:
"He's a little too old for this position."
"I'm not sure he would fit in with our young team."
"Sounds like she might be pregnant or planning to have kids soon - that's not really what we're looking for."
"While qualified, I'm not sure he's ready for a leadership role."
Anything that's subjective or specifically calls out someone's personal traits rather than their qualifications for the role should be suspect. These statements are often indicative of unconscious bias.
To reiterate, confirmation bias is where we only look for information that affirms what we already believe.
Examples of confirmation bias in the workplace could be if an employer has their heart set on hiring a particular candidate and as a result, only looks for information that confirms their decision while ignoring any information to the contrary.
A specific confirmation bias in hiring example would be if two highly qualified candidates were interviewing for a role and one was favored because they have the same alma mater as the hiring manager.
This confirmation bias example would most likely lead the hiring manager to make a decision based on their own experience or gut feelings rather than facts or data.
While unconscious bias can impact any stage of the hiring process, it's especially important to be aware of its effects during the interview process.
Unconscious bias interview examples show that statistically, we distort the way we perceive candidates, leading us to make assumptions about their qualifications or fit for the role. This can ultimately result in qualified candidates being screened out of the process.
Let's talk about a specific form of bias. Gender bias.
This is the belief that one gender is better suited for a particular job or activity than another. It can manifest itself in many ways, both conscious and unconscious.
For example, employers may have a preference for male candidates over female candidates for jobs that require physical strength or stamina. Or they may believe that women are more likely to take time off for family reasons, so they may be less likely to offer them positions that require travel or long hours.
Often, this bias can show up as early in the hiring process as the job posting.
In the HBR article, "Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified," Tara Sophia Mohr talks about gender bias in hiring statistics.
She cites a study by Hewlett Packard which found that men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply when they meet 100% of them.
These unconscious bias statistics are significant because they show that women are self-selecting themselves out of the hiring process before interviewing even begins.
This leads to a far less diverse workforce and ultimately hurts company culture and the bottom line.
On a positive note, recent hiring bias statistics show that awareness of these issues is on the rise.
According to a 2019 study by LeanIn.org, 87% of companies are committed to diversity and inclusion, up from 56% in 2012.
Additionally, 54% of employees believe their company is making progress on gender diversity, up from 46% last year.
We're taking steps in the right direction!
If you're wondering, "How can bias affect a job interview?"
The simple answer is objectivity.
Bias can distort the way we see candidates, leading us to make assumptions about their qualifications or fit for the role. This can ultimately result in qualified candidates being screened out of the process.
Knowing this, if you're still asking, "what can be done to reduce bias in an interview?"
The first step is to become aware of your own biases. We all have them! Once you're aware of your prejudices, you can begin to take steps to combat them.
Use video interview intelligence software to help you screen candidates fairly. This type of software can help you identify unconscious bias in your team by allowing you to review interviews side-by-side and compare candidate responses objectively.
Additionally, be sure to ask the same questions of all candidates and avoid making assumptions about their qualifications or experience. Semi-structured interview questions are a great way to get all the information you need without leading the candidate in a particular direction.
Finally, consider using a diverse panel of interviewers to help reduce the impact of any one person's bias.
By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your company is making the best possible hiring decisions for its needs.
Overconfidence bias is "the tendency to be more confident in one's abilities than is warranted."
In other words, the inability to recognize one's own individual limits.
This unconscious bias in hiring can definitely show up in the interview process - both from the interviewer, and the candidate.
For example, let's say you've been working with a candidate for a few weeks and you're pretty confident they're going to be a great fit for the role.
You might start to get ahead of yourself and make assumptions about their qualifications or experience and skip certain assessments, panel interviews, or outside voices that would give you feedback to the contrary.
Dr. Tana Session has a great module on overconfidence bias in her LinkedIn Learning course, "Uncovering Unconscious Bias In Recruiting and Interviewing."
Overconfidence bias in hiring is seen most often when our assumptions lead us to believe something that may not actually be the case.
Dr. Session equates overconfidence bias to watching a movie where we feel certain about the outcome and are totally surprised when it ends differently than we thought.
Bias in hiring statistics shows us that assumptions like overconfidence bias often lead to poor hiring decisions at the cost of company culture, team performance, and ultimately, the company's bottom line.
One of the most helpful tools to eliminate bias in the interview process is interview intelligence software. Video interview software can serve many functions for your team, but most importantly it can help you review candidates' responses objectively, side-by-side.
Pillar's interview intelligence software gives you the tools necessary to hire effectively, efficiently, and equitably. Customer's hiring an average of 4 employees per month save $1.2M+ and 225 hours using our platform.
Check out our savings calculator to see how much you can save and request a demo today!