How Can Bias Affect A Job Interview

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How Can Bias Affect A Job Interview

The term bias refers to an "inclination" or "prejudgment" towards a certain person, group, or idea. In the context of job interviews, bias can significantly impact the outcome of an interview and potentially hinder an applicant's chances of completing an interview successfully and getting the job. When an interviewer allows biases to creep into an interview, especially when those biases would be considered unfair or prejudicial toward the candidate, it can have negative consequences for both the interviewer and the candidate.

How Can Bias Affect a Job Interview - Examples

So, let's take a closer look at how bias can affect a job interview and some examples of how it may manifest in the hiring process. There are many forms of bias, but some common examples in a job interview setting include:

  • Confirmation Bias
  • Affinity Bias
  • Stereotype Bias
  • Halo Effect
  • Horn Effect
  • Contrast Effect

The most common form of bias to show up in interviews is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is where an interviewer makes early judgments (whether positive or negative) about a candidate and only looks for evidence to confirm their preconceived notion. This form of bias is a challenge to overcome because it's based on thousands of years of human evolution. The inclination to look for evidence that we're right is a natural human shortcut. Assuming that we're wrong takes far more energy and intense effort so we skip it in favor of making a snap judgment and sticking with it. This bias can lead to a lack of further investigation into a candidate's skills, experience, and qualifications because the interviewer has already made up their mind - overlooking other potential red flags that would indicate a candidate wouldn't fit the role.

Affinity bias is there the interviewer subconsciously favors candidates who are similar to themselves. Most of us think we're quite good at what we do and when faced with a candidate like us we tend to think they'll be equally proficient. But this can be far from the truth. Affinity bias can show up as a false positive due to educational background, race, gender, age, or even shared interests and experiences. While this form of bias may seem harmless, it can eliminate candidates who bring different perspectives and diverse ideas to the company.

Impact of Bias on Job Interviews

The impact of bias in job interviews can be damaging to both the interviewer and the candidate. Let's take stereotyping as an example. Stereotyping is a type of bias where an interviewer makes assumptions about a candidate based on their appearance, background, or other personal characteristics. Unlike affinity bias which acts in confirmation of an interviewer's beliefs, stereotyping often works the opposite way. This can lead to overlooking qualified candidates and perpetuating systemic discrimination within the hiring process.

How can bias affect a job interview examples show up dramatically when we look at the horn and halo effect. Both biases refer to the overall impression an interviewer has of a candidate and how it can color their perception of specific traits. With the horn effect, a negative first impression can lead to an interviewer seeking out negative qualities in a candidate, even if they possess positive ones as well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the halo effect can create a positive first impression that causes the interviewer to overlook certain flaws or weaknesses that may disqualify the individual from the role.

One of the fastest ways to eliminate these biases from the hiring process is by implementing interview intelligence software. Solutions like Pillar (our shameless plug) can identify where bias shows up in interviews and help you mitigate it.

Management Of Bias During The Job Interview

Vital to the overall effective management of bias during the job interview process is the use of structured interviews. A structured interview uses standardization of interview questions to ensure a fair and objective evaluation of all of the candidates being interviewed. Implementing a structured interview process with interview insights is one of the most powerful ways to achieve a truly unbiased selection process.

Questions You Ask During a Job Interview

The structured interview process requires preparing a standardized set of questions you can ask during a job interview, if you'd like to see how this works, and create a FREE custom interview guide for your next interview that includes structured interview questions, click here and paste your job description into the text window. In a few minutes, we'll email you a complete guide- shortening your prep time and ensuring an unbiased interview. Using a structured interview format not only helps in minimizing personal biases but also ensures that the evaluation is based on consistent criteria - so all the candidates are assessed fairly.

Another critical aspect involves after the interview - addressing bias in evaluation. Addressing bias in after-interview evaluation is critical to keeping your interviews fair and objective. In most cases, the team will get together after the interview to compare notes and decide which candidate is best. To avoid any bias from influencing this decision-making process, it's essential to have standardized evaluation criteria that focus on skills and qualifications rather than personal biases.

How Can Bias Affect a Job Interview - Interview Question Examples

Before talking about the ethical and legal considerations of interviewing, let's take a look at two biased interview questions so we can compare and contrast good questions with bad ones.

Biased Interview Question:

"So, as a mother, how do you plan to manage your workload along with your responsibilities at home?"

Unbiased Correction:

"Can you describe how you prioritize your professional responsibilities and manage your time effectively?"

In the first question, there is a bias towards women with children and a preconceived notion that they may struggle to balance work and personal life. In the second question, there is no mention of parenthood or gender, focusing instead on time management skills and being effective with professional responsibilities.

Biased Interview Question:

"Do you think being younger than most people in our team will make it harder for you to lead effectively?"

Unbiased Correction:

"How do you approach leadership and team dynamics in a diverse work environment?"

Your interviews will be far more effective if you focus on unbiased questions and standardized evaluation criteria which nets better candidates and a better culture in the end.

Legal And Ethical Implications Of Bias In Job Interviews

Understanding the legal and ethical implications of bias in job interviews is complex and multifaceted. When bias shows up in a job interview, it isn't just a matter of ethics - it becomes a legal issue that can have serious consequences for the company if left unaddressed. There are laws against discrimination.

The U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Discrimination in Employment Act, and now many of the artificial intelligence (AI) hiring laws clearly outline that employment decisions MUST be made on skills and experience and cannot be based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. This means you have a lot to consider when building a legal hiring process. These laws are integral to guarding against prejudices and the injustices that biased hiring can inflict on those subjected to it.

Questions You Can Ask in a Job Interview

Designing questions you can ask in a job interview is as much of an art as it is a science. The most important factors to consider before making an offer are the candidate's skills, experience, and potential fit for company culture. For this reason, interview questions should be professional and relevant to the job's requirements first and foremost.

"Gray areas" often arise when we ask about a candidate's capabilities to perform certain job requirements unassisted. We'd recommend reading the Americans with Disabilities Act or seeking legal counsel before asking questions dealing with a candidate's protected disability. The U.S. Government made the entire guide into a book which is available on Amazon if you'd like to take a deep dive.

Can You Ask About Hobbies in a Job Interview?

Another "gray area" often arises around the topics of personal interests. Asking about hobbies requires careful consideration before including them in the interview. Discussing hobbies during interviews can create a more relaxed and approachable atmosphere for candidates, yet it may inadvertently introduce bias. Talking about hobbies and personal interests offers valuable insights into a candidate's creativity, problem-solving capabilities, and shared interests with other team members-  however, be aware to navigate these conversations ethically, ensuring that such questions do not veer into personal territory that could skew the fairness of the interview process.

In closing, bias can creep into interviews in many ways. But with strict adherence to laws against discrimination and by focusing on job-relevant, fair questions, each candidate can experience the respect and objectivity that they deserve. Addressing the legal and ethical implications of bias in job interviews safeguards your team and guarantees a selection process that is compliant and ethically sound, contributing to the development of an inclusive workplace culture.

If you've seen bias creep into your hiring processes and would to see how structured interviews and interview intelligence can help, book your demo today to see what Pillar can do for you.