There’s something sneaking into your interviews and you’re probably not even aware of it. Yet this very thing – bias – could be preventing you from hiring the best person. Bias happens whether we want it to or not, because we’re simply programmed that way as humans.
Our experiences shape our perceptions and we do this subconsciously, boxing information into categories to better understand the world around us. Unfortunately this often leads us to make assumptions about situations, and more importantly in the hiring process, we make assumptions towards people that can influence our decision to hire them.
Human instinct is flawed
As much as instinct plays an important role in recruiting it can often tip the scales in favour of one candidate over another. We might see a certain accolade that impresses us and because of this gloss over other critical details. This is called the halo effect.
If we aren’t blinded by accolades, we could be blinded by appearances. While we hate to admit it, the reality is that more attractive looking people often become the preferred shortlisted candidates. It’s one of the reasons candidate are advised to dress up for interviews, because first impressions count. And unfortunately they can also count against a candidate if they’re nervous or don’t look or act like the interviewer expects them to.
Then there is the mirroring or mini-me effect where we are impressed by people who are similar to us, that think, act or even dress in a similar way. Some recruiters like to play it safe, choosing to hire only those people they’ve worked with before. While this is a more obvious bias, it’s quite common when it comes to recruiting for more senior positions. The reason usually cited is better the devil you know….
But you don’t “know” for sure
A 2015 CIPD study on the behavioural science of recruitment cited that bias is more prevalent than most people are aware of and hiring decisions are wide open to being influenced by a wide range of factors – factors that are often unrelated to their actual ability to do the job effectively. So the next time you’re hiring, prompt yourself to venture outside those neatly ordered boxes in your mind. That might just be where you find the candidate that’s an unexpected but ideal fit for the role.