Common Biases in the Hiring Process

9 Common Biases in the Hiring Process to watch out for.


We all have internal biases knowingly or unknowingly. As humans, we tend to make decisions hastily based on our perception of things or individuals. These biases can also be found in the hiring process when recruiters are looking for their next best-fit candidate. Hiring Bias can be experienced in the various recruitment stages. During resume selection, the shortlisting process, interviews or even the actual candidate selection period.

However, recruiters need to overcome their internal biases for talent diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Fair hiring brings more creativity, innovation and also increases the retention rate of companies. Below  are some prevalent hiring  biases to watch out for 

  1. Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias happens when the recruiter tries to get answers or feed their curiosity based on their perception of the candidate’s initial impression. It entails overlooking evidence contrary to our initial judgment of someone. Recruiters tend to ask irrelevant questions because they want to believe their instincts. They also want to confirm the correctness of the candidate based on their assessment. Here, the candidate’s suitability is determined before the interview or within 20 minutes into the discussion in many interviews. By doing this, recruiters miss out on great candidates because they made a wrong judgment at the first encounter.

2. Affect heuristics

It occurs when a recruiter concludes the candidate’s suitability mentally without evaluating their full potential. The shortcut is usually applied when the panelists are tired of sitting through the interview. For instance, a recruiter might dismiss a candidate as incompetent because of their physical features. The feature could be as shallow as the candidates colour, ethnicity, or stutter just because they do not like people with certain traits.

3. Expectation anchor bias

It happens when recruiters have a candidate’s professional background information that they use to determine his/her fit. By doing this, they overlook other great candidates suitable for the position in the process. This bias can also occur when recruiters first interview an excellent candidate such that they don’t take into consideration any of the later candidates. The later candidates get interviewed as a formality because recruiters have already settled on the earlier candidate as the best man/woman for the job.

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4. Hallo effect

The effect comes to play when recruiters focus on a candidate strength and automatically assume they are good in other areas.  For example, a recruiter can look at a candidates’ professional achievement and conclude they are good at teamwork, excel at leadership, and have the necessary soft and hard skills. 

This should not be the case. Recruiters should always get proof of a candidate’s other requisite skills and not judge based on a single trait.

5. Overconfidence bias

A confirmation bias that occurs when recruiters justify their final decisions on their ability to choose the right candidates unopposed. The subjective confidence allows the recruiter to intuitively make their decision, overlooking the recruitment process’s objectives.

6. Similarity attraction bias

This kind of bias occurs when a recruiter prefers a candidate with a similar behaviour pattern, even when the traits do not relate to the job description. It is human nature to want to spend time with people you get along well with but taking it to the work environment is a bit extra.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.- Maya Angelou

7. Beauty bias

Recruiters tend to think that looks affect how a person delivers. They, therefore, look for a successor with similar features to those of the predecessor.

8. Affinity bias

It happens when a recruiter prefers a particular candidate because they feel a natural attraction towards them. In most cases, there is something that draws them towards this specific candidate. It can be something like you both come from the same upcountry town, worship at the same sanctuary, have mutual friends or went to the same university.

A recruiter ends up settling for a candidate that may not be suitable because they emphasized things irrelevant to the hiring decision.

9. Contrast / Judgment bias

Most recruiters compare the latest received CV to those submitted earlier, thereby moving objectives with each. They end up comparing resumes of one candidate to the other, making a decision based on them instead of looking at the skills and attributes relayed.

In conclusion, recruiters should try to make the recruitment process objective and structured. All should adopt intelligent data insights because it helps in the applicant selection and decision-making process. Recruiters also need to avoid being heuristic at all times by the fact that they are human.

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