Mirror mirror on the wall – who is the fairest of them all? When it comes to interviewing candidates, being fair should be the top requirement of every hiring manager’s list. The expectation is that each candidate is assessed solely on their credentials and experiences. Although this is the expectation, it is not necessarily what is happening behind the scenes…
… truth is – we are human. And, being human means we have blind spots; areas of being and acting and feeling and interviewing that we cannot see. This blog is to help you — the reader, the interviewer, the human — uncover and make aware of 3 important interview biases . Once you can spot them, you can acknowledge and recognize when it is happening. This will allow you to make more informed decisions when looking for the ideal candidate, and will enable you to truly be the fairest of them all.
1. Similarity-Attraction Bias
AKA the “I like you because you are like me” bias. The saying that “opposites attract” could be true, but with the underlying tones of the similarity-attraction bias, it is very rare that we will give this opposite person a chance – especially in the workplace. There’s an internal magnetic attraction when we interact with somebody like ourselves. We have a particular bias that causes us to be attracted to people that are like us: extroverts are attracted extroverts, marketers like marketers, GoT fans pull in other GoT fans. It makes relating to one another far easier and can help us create common ground. That said, with all of its good intentions, it can put quite the hook in the hiring process. When we are drawn to people who are like us, we start hiring on grounds of “I like this person” vs. “This person would be good at the job at hand.” It can also mean you’ll end up with a team of clones and similar skill sets. The challenge is, we are often unaware that this bias is occurring in the background. The trick is to catch yourself in thought. If you like the candidate, stop to think why you are feeling this way. Is it based on the requirements of the position, or based on your feelings about their likeliness to you?
2. Confirmation Bias
Humans LOVE to figure sh*t out. The confirmation bias happens when we have a quick initial thought, and then look for signs and cues that validate our primary understanding. Problem is – our first thought is never our best thought (and likely not even our own thought). This bias unfortunately creates some of the worst hiring situations we’ve ever seen, and much of this bias relies on the first few minutes of an interview.
“Those who made a good first impression were instantly assumed to be competent and the interviewer used the balance of the interview to seek out evidence to support the initial reaction. If the candidate made a weak first impression, the interviewer would assume the person was incompetent and proactively went out to prove it. Questions that could quickly prove them wrong were unconsciously avoided.”
When confronted with a confirmation bias blind spot, let go of what you think you know and be open to what you don’t know.
Now this one’s an easy one. Stereotypes: everyone KNOWS they exist, so everyone KNOWS how to spot them and not fall prey to them, right? If only psychology was so simple. The study of unconscious bias reveals that we all use stereotypes, all the time, without knowing it. However, these unconscious thoughts can lead to behaviour that is damaging to your hiring process and your overall team health. There are societal accepted truths (as well as ‘hiring truths’) and being human we tend to fit people into these. Hiring should be about challenging the norms of your business. Take a step back and ask yourself: Are we truly giving everyone a fair chance at being hired?