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Many people who are new to the hiring process ask questions like, "What is interview bias?" and "How to reduce bias in the hiring process?" If you're new to the topic, interview bias is a form of discrimination that occurs during the hiring process. It can manifest in several ways, from slight favoritism towards applicants with similar backgrounds to outright exclusion of qualified candidates based on prejudiced assumptions.
As you can imagine, interview bias is a serious issue, and it's important to be aware of the different forms of bias that can occur during the hiring process. We'll talk about each type of interview bias in the next section, but for now, let's look at what may be the most insidious type of interview bias, unconscious bias, and review some unconscious bias in recruitment examples to help you identify and reduce bias in the hiring process.
Unconscious bias may be the most insidious because it's done completely unintentionally. An example of unconscious bias would be if a hiring manager gives preferential treatment to applicants with similar educational backgrounds or from the same school. It's also possible for people to have unconscious biases based on gender, race, and other social factors - and the worst part of unconscious bias is that people don't even know they're doing it.
Society has taught us to be on "low alert" with people or things that share similar traits to our own, and this can lead to subtle forms of discrimination in the workplace. Unconscious bias is an important issue to consider, so if you're looking for ways to reduce bias in the hiring process, it's imperative that you understand how unconscious bias works.
One of the best ways to begin combatting our own personal biases, especially for those of us who hire people and through this action affect the direction of their lives, is to become aware of them by taking an implicit bias test. Harvard created one that we're particularly fond of that you can take for free here.
Once you've identified these biases, you can better incorporate diversity and inclusion initiatives into the recruitment process is an important step toward reducing bias in the hiring process.
Another way is by using interview intelligence software with built-in tools for interviewer coaching. Pillar's interview intelligence platform provides real-time feedback for interviewers, allowing them to recognize and confront their own unconscious biases as they happen - helping to ensure a more equitable hiring process.
We answered the question, "What is interview bias?" in the first section, now let's look at some different types of bias in interviews.
Interview bias examples take many forms. The first type of bias is called confirmatory bias. It occurs when the interviewer makes assumptions and looks for evidence to support them. For example, if an interviewer assumes a candidate is not capable of doing the job because they went to a less prestigious school than what was listed on their resume, then they may look for other aspects that "support" this assumption - like the candidate's lack of experience - and ignore evidence that might prove them wrong.
Another type of bias is halo effect bias, which occurs when one positive quality blinds an interviewer to everything else. If a hiring manager likes a candidate for any reason - like their style of dress or charisma - they are likely to rate all other qualities higher as well.
There's also stereotype bias, which is when an interviewer bases their opinion of a candidate on preconceived notions or stereotypes about an entire group. This wrongful generalization can lead to applicants being overlooked even if they have all the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.
These are just some of the most common types of interview bias - but it's important to note that there are many others. If you want to reduce bias in the hiring process, it's important to be aware of them all.
Once you're aware of them, you'll probably begin asking, "How to avoid bias in interviews." Avoiding bias in interviews isn't always easy, but there are some steps you can take to avoid it and reduce it.
First, if you've identified that biases are an issue for your interviewing team, try a blind resume solution to eliminate names that may be hard to pronounce to create a level playing field for every candidate who's screened.
Next, make sure to screen every candidate in a fair and objective way. This means that they're all being asked a similar set of semi-structured, open-ended questions and scored fairly on their responses.
Additionally, it's important to create a diverse team of interviewers. When you have a team of people from different backgrounds, they're more likely to recognize any biases in their own thinking and the thinking of others. Be gracious with your team but also firm in your resolve to eliminate bias in hiring so that you can build the best team of high producers who are ready to take on any challenge.
Use structured interview techniques when possible. Structured interviews are ones that focus on specific criteria and measurable skills - rather than subjective qualities - so there is no room for bias. This helps to ensure that every applicant is assessed fairly and objectively on their own merits.
Finally, be sure to have the right tools in place to reduce bias in interviews. Technology can help you streamline the hiring process by providing data-driven insights into how well your team is doing when it comes to reducing bias and selecting top talent. Interview intelligence software with built-in interviewer coaching solutions is one of the fastest ways to recognize and quell any biases that creep into the interview process.
We've already discussed some interview bias examples, but let's take a look at more concrete examples of bias in recruitment.
One example of interview bias is when an interviewer focuses on the candidate's "likeability" and not their qualifications. This can happen if the interviewer has a preconceived notion about what makes someone likable - such as having a certain style of dress, charisma, or coming from a similar cultural background - which can lead to candidates being judged unfairly.
Another interview bias example is when an interviewer assumes that a candidate is not capable of doing the job because of their age, gender, or other personal factors. This is called Stereotype bias - and it's especially dangerous in recruitment. When an interviewer assumes that people from certain backgrounds are not capable of doing a job, they are likely to overlook all other factors and disqualify the applicant based on this assumption. This type of bias can lead to excellent candidates being overlooked or even discouraged from applying for a job.
Finally, if an interviewer relies too heavily on past performance as a predictor of future success, it can lead to bias in interviews. For example, if a candidate has worked in the same industry for 10 years but their current company is going through a downturn, the interviewer may assume they don't have the skills to perform in a different environment. This type of bias is discouraging to candidates who've already been through a difficult time with their respective teams as they've seen less than satisfactory results in their own performance.
These are just a few interview bias examples - but recognizing these types of biases is key to creating an equitable, unbiased hiring process. To reduce bias in interviews and ensure that everyone has an equal chance at success, it's important to be aware of them and combat them.
To equip your team with powerful tools to reduce and even eliminate bias, you'll need to train them to be aware of unconscious bias and how to recognize it. You can also implement technology solutions like blind resume screening, structured interview techniques, data-driven insights, and documents that include lists of unbiased interview questions that they can ask.
This brings up a great point. Creating a list of standardized interview questions for each role can help your team eliminate bias and focus more on candidate responses than coming up with off-the-cuff questions to ask. Having a list of pre-approved questions can also ensure that each candidate is asked the same set of questions, so there's no room for bias.
Overall, it's important to recognize and be aware of potential sources of interview bias. With the right tools, training, and procedures in place - you'll be one step closer to reducing any biases present in interviews and will make better hiring decisions to build a better team.
At Pillar, our mission is to help you make better hires. To see how we've helped our customers lower employee turnover by 50%, decrease cost-to-hire and time-to-hire, and create a more efficient hiring process, schedule your demo to chat with someone from our team today!