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Interview Bias

How often do you think about the potential biases that might be affecting your hiring decisions? If you're like most people, the answer is probably "not very often."

But bias can have a big impact on who we hire and how well they do in their jobs. Studies have shown that humans are hardwired for bias, and even the most well-intentioned hiring managers can be affected by it.

So what is bias, exactly? It's a judgment or opinion that's based on something other than facts or logic. We all have biases, and they can impact our decision-making in all sorts of ways - from the clothes we wear to the friends we choose to the way we vote.

Bias can also lead us to make snap judgments about candidates based on their appearance, race, gender, or other factors that have nothing to do with their qualifications for the job.

The good news is that there are ways to guard against bias in hiring. By being aware of the potential for interview bias and taking steps to avoid it, you can ensure that you're making great hiring decisions.

When it comes to hiring someone, identifying and avoiding interview biases can be the difference between finding the perfect candidate and making a bad hire.

So, let's look at how to avoid interview bias so you can make better hires.

Interview bias is a type of cognitive bias that refers to the tendency to make judgments about people based on our personal biases and preferences.

Simply put, it's when we cloud a decision with our personal preferences.

And, there are several ways that interview bias can manifest itself. For example, you might give preference to candidates who come from the same school, play the same sports, or have the same hobbies as you. Or you might hire someone because they remind you of a successful colleague or friend.

These are all examples of unconscious bias, which refers to the biases we hold that we're not even aware of.

Unconscious bias is a powerful force in our decision-making, and it can be hard to overcome. But there are steps you can take to become more aware of your own biases and avoid letting them impact your hiring.

Then there are conscious hiring biases. These are the biases that we know we have, but we allow them to impact our hiring decisions anyway.

A common example of conscious hiring bias is confirmation bias, which is when we give extra weight to information that confirms our preexisting beliefs.

For example, if you believe that all successful salespeople are charming and outgoing, you might unconsciously give extra weight to the charming and outgoing candidates during the interview process.

Any form of bias will shape a decision when allowed to go unchecked.

The first step to avoiding bias in hiring is becoming aware of your own biases. A great place to begin is by taking the Implicit Bias test created in collaboration between Harvard University and Project Implicit.

This test will help you to identify the biases you might not even be aware of. Once you're aware of your personal biases, you can take steps to avoid letting them impact your hiring decisions.

Interview intelligence software can also be a great tool to help you eliminate bias from your hiring process as it allows you to record, transcribe, index, highlight, and score in real-time. This way you can review interviews to make sure it's not showing up in your hiring process.

Interview Bias Examples

We have to be aware of the different ways interviewer bias can present itself, in order so we can take steps to prevent it from affecting us.

Before we get into some examples, let's define what interview bias is:

Interview bias is the act of making judgments about a candidate based on personal preferences or beliefs, rather than on the candidate's qualifications or merit.

Interview bias examples can include, but are not limited to:

Preference bias: Giving preferential treatment to candidates who share the same characteristics as the interviewer, such as gender, race, ethnicity, or educational background.

Confirmation bias: Seeking out information that confirms the interviewer's preconceptions about the candidate, while discounting information that contradicts those preconceptions.

First-impression bias: Making a snap judgment about a candidate based on their appearance, mannerisms, or other factors that have nothing to do with their qualifications for the job.

Stereotyping: Making assumptions about a candidate's abilities or personality based on their race, gender, age, or other factors.

Halo effect: Assuming that a candidate is competent in all areas because they excel in one area. For example, assuming that a candidate is a great salesperson because they're a great public speaker.

Recency bias: Giving more weight to a candidate's recent experiences or achievements than to their past experiences or achievements.

These judgments lead to biased interview questions that ultimately hurt the validity of the hiring process.

So let's talk about how to avoid bias in interviews.

The first step to avoiding bias in interviews is becoming aware of your own biases. If you've taken the test listed in the previous section, you're off to a great start.

Next, take a close look at your interview questions. Are they truly job-related? Or are they leading questions that could elicit a biased response?

Bias interview questions will needlessly eliminate candidates that could be an excellent fit for the role.

Worse, they will ruin a candidate's experience and reflect poorly on your company.

Finally, be sure to give all candidates an equal opportunity to shine. Avoid asking follow-up questions only to candidates who share your personal biases. Instead, ask the same question of all candidates.

We recommend using a semi-structured line of questioning as it allows you to ask each candidate the same questions while still allowing for some flexibility and spontaneity in the conversation.

By taking these steps, you can avoid bias in interviews and make sure that you're hiring the best candidates for the job, not just the ones that fit your personal preferences.

Types of Interview Bias

None of us wants to admit that our decisions are affected by bias, especially when it comes to something as important as hiring.

The decisions that we're making will change the course of someone's future so they bare a considerable weight.

Unfortunately, we're all human, and therefore subject to the same cognitive biases that affect everyone else.

Unconscious bias in interviewing can present itself in many different forms. In the first section, we briefly mentioned common types of interview bias. In this section, let's look at examples of interview bias and how they affect the hiring process.

The questions you ask candidates during the interview process are a great place to begin and often tell you a lot about your perception of the candidate.

Examples of biased interview questions include:

"What year did you graduate from college?"
"How many sick days did you take last year?"
"Do you have any plans to start a family soon?"
"Where are you from originally?"

None of these questions are job-related, and therefore should not be asked in an interview.

We have a list of these "red flag questions" here. If anyone in your company is asking these questions please note that they're illegal and don't meet EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's discrimination guidelines.

When interviewers ask these types of questions, they're usually unintentional. The interviewer is likely just trying to make small talk or get to know the candidate on a personal level.

However, even if these questions are coming from a place of good intentions, they can still lead to biased hiring decisions.

One of the best ways to catch these interview missteps and avoid bias in interviews is to review interview recordings looking for "red-flag questions" so you can coach your teams and panel interviewers.

Interview intelligence platforms like Pillar make this easy. Recording, transcribing, and indexing interviews so that they're searchable by keyword is a huge help when you're trying to identify and address unconscious bias in your hiring process.

Interview Bias Sociology

In recent years, there's been a lot of discussion in the sociology world about how "interview bias" can reinforce existing social inequalities.

For example, studies have shown that employers are more likely to hire candidates who come from privileged backgrounds.

This is because employers often subconsciously associate privilege with competence and success.

Of course, this is not always the case. There are plenty of competent and successful candidates who come from less privileged backgrounds. And can have internal drive and work ethic that far surpasses those from privilege.

The problem is that when employers allow interview bias to guide their hiring decisions, they're inadvertently perpetuating social inequalities.

To avoid this, different types of interview structures have been created and tested.

One-way, structured, and unstructured interviews are three examples.

Structured interview sociology is designed to minimize the impact of bias by asking all candidates the same questions in the same order. This type of interview is often used in academic settings.

One-way interviews are conducted remotely, usually via video conferencing. The interviewer and candidate are in different locations, which can help to reduce the impact of bias.

Unstructured interviews are the most common type of interview, and usually involve a conversation between the interviewer and the candidate.

While unstructured interviews sociologically may be the most common, they're also likely to include more opportunities for bias than structured interviews.

This is because unstructured interviews often rely heavily on first impressions and "gut feeling," which can be influenced by all sorts of biases, including race, gender, and social class.

A great way to mitigate this opportunity for bias is to use a semi-structured approach.

Semi-structured interviews are a combination of both styles, and usually involve a mix of predetermined questions and more open-ended conversation.

This type of interview can help to reduce the impact of bias while still allowing for some flexibility.

Of course, no matter what type of interview you use, it's important to be aware of the potential for bias and take steps to avoid it.

By understanding interview bias sociology, you can take steps to avoid it in your hiring process.

If your focus is eliminating bias from your interview process we'd love to talk to you.

Pillar is a video interview platform that helps companies identify and avoid unconscious bias in their hiring process. We help managers and recruitment teams make better hires.

Over the past 12 months, our customers have reported a 40% increase in diverse hiring. They've also decreased time-to-hire and employee turnover by 50%.To learn more, schedule a demo, today!