10 Common Hiring Biases You Might Be Doing Unconsciously

Humans are naturally biased in certain ways, making their decision-making processes more difficult than they should be. Some of these biases even affect how job candidates and staff perform.

We all make a lot of subconscious decisions every day; your most recent one was whether to open this post by our team at HawodTech – or not.

Numerous unconscious biases have a significant impact on how we think, which in turn affects how we see reality.

Our upbringing, socialization, subsequent social groupings, exposure to variety in society, and the media as a whole are all examples of biases that influence how we make decisions and, ultimately, how we form our opinions.

In a perfect world, the choice to recruit a candidate would be made exclusively on the basis of their competence for the position. The hiring process would be conducted with objectivity, practicality, and a lack of subjectivity and unconscious bias.

But despite our best efforts, we occasionally allow external variables to skew our judgment since we don’t live in a perfect environment.

The unfortunate fact is that unconscious bias exists whether or not we want it to.

Here’s a nugget of truth – the hiring process is one of the places when our unconscious prejudice is most obvious. Recruiters are constantly advised to “trust your gut” and rely on our instincts when making decisions.

However, as you’ll find out later, intuition is founded on—you guessed it—unconscious prejudice.

Here are ten common hiring biases you might be doing unconsciously.

Overview of 10 Common Hiring Biases

  • Similarity attraction bias
  • Affinity bias
  • Contrast effect / judgement bias
  • Intuition
  • Affect heuristics
  • Confirmation bias
  • Halo effect
  • Horn effect
  • Conformity bias
  • Illusory correlation

Why should unconscious hiring bias worry you?

The improper hire might result in early employee turnover, which can cost the business thousands of dollars or up to twice the individual’s annual compensation. A prejudiced recruiting practice can also result in legal issues. But above all, you should aim for a diversified workforce.

Employers who are ethnically diverse have a 35% higher chance of outperforming their respective national industry medians. Gender diversity raises organizational performance by 15% compared to the average. It is crucial to remove unconscious bias from your hiring process because it can prohibit businesses from employing diverse workers and lower overall efficiency.

We must form opinions based on a variety of implicit assumptions when hiring recruiters. There are usually more than one unconscious biases at work, regardless of how hard we attempt to make a sensible decision based on all the information we have available.

Therefore, kudos to you if you identify any of the following in your employment decision-making process and take steps to avoid them. However, have you come across the others?

Let’s dive deeper on the ten common hiring biases.

  1. Similarity attraction bias

Human nature dictates that we naturally desire to be with other individuals with whom we get along and feel comfortable. The office setting is also similar. If you’re going to be working beside someone for a third of the day, you want to make sure that you will get along with them.

The similarity attraction bias, then, is a result of recruiters going too far in this regard and favoring applicants we see as being similar to us or possessing certain features or attributes, even when those things aren’t related to on-the-job success.

  1. Affinity bias

This is comparable to the similarity bias and occurs frequently in the recruitment process. The affinity bias is simply when we have a natural affinity with a candidate because of a shared characteristic, such as having attended the same school, living in the same area, or knowing the same acquaintances.

In our capacity as recruiters, we might let this kinship affect how we behave during interviews and how we decide someone to hire. We focus attention on something that is not tangible nor important to the hiring choice because we think there is a connection there, similar to the illusory association.

  1. Contrast effect / judgment bias

Recruiters spend a lot of time reviewing resumes, and instead of letting each one stand out on its own merits, we sometimes have a tendency to contrast the most recent CV with the one that came before.

With each new resume filter, we are essentially shifting the goalposts in this manner. And rather than determining if a candidate is qualified for a position based on the abilities and qualities listed on their résumé, we compare them against other applicants.

  1. Intuition

Although it’s conventional wisdom to “follow your intuition,” or even, “trust your gut” wise decision-makers understand that it can’t really be that straightforward. Undoubtedly, there are moments when intuition leads us in the right direction and other times, it simply doesn’t.

We need to first debunk intuition and comprehend exactly how it functions in order to be able to respond to that question. We’ll discover that the procedure that gives us these instincts, despite initially seeming straightforward and undeveloped, is actually highly intricate and sophisticated.

As recruiters, we frequently hear to trust our instincts. Meaning that rather than concentrating on a person’s actual abilities, we might make choices and intuitively choose a candidate based on unimportant variables like emotion, intellect, and their unique makeup.

  1. Affect heuristics

This occurs when a recruiter draws conclusions about a candidate’s suitability for the position without thoroughly weighing all the available data.

Simply said, you are making decisions about someone’s eligibility for a job based on unimportant, superficial considerations that have no bearing on how they would approach the task at issue. For instance, you might assume that someone is incompetent because you dislike their evident tattoos, their weight, or  something else.

Evolutionary psychologists’ research has shown that our propensity to use heuristics was a survival strategy that helped early humans.

However, since we are no longer primitive beings, engaging in hiring bias prevents you from employing exceptional candidates who don’t quite match your model.

  1. Confirmation bias

We are all guilty of passing judgment too quickly, including recruiters. We make snap judgments based on perceived truths and then, consciously or unconsciously, spend the rest of the time trying to defend our prejudice. At this point, we start asking illogical questions in an effort to get the candidate to confirm our preconceived notions about them.

We do this because we want to think that our gut instincts and evaluation of the prospect are accurate. In fact, within 15 minutes of seeing a candidate, 60% of interviewers will decide whether they are a good fit. Some people will have completed it in advance of the interview.

Snap judgments are made by humans, but not as frequently or as swiftly as we may believe, according to a research.

More than 600 30-minute job interviews with college and graduate students were examined in the study. 4.9 percent and 25.5 percent of interviewers stated they made snap judgments on a candidate’s suitability during the first minute and the first five minutes, respectively. 59.9% of judgments were made overall during the first 15 minutes, which is less than half of the allotted time for the interview. However, looking at the data in a different way reveals that 69.6% of judgments were made after the first five minutes, which contradicts past research that suggested that most decisions are made quite early.

The obvious risk here is that we might be overlooking excellent prospects.

  1. Halo effect

This hiring bias is comparable to the expectation anchor bias in that it arises when a recruiter forgoes conducting a thorough background check on a candidate in favor of placing an undue emphasis on one appealing characteristic, such as their educational background or participation in extracurricular activities, and relies solely on that quality when making decisions.

We focus on and allow the candidate’s golden halo influence our judgment of him or her. We ignore all other information about them and are taken aback by this one aspect of them, which is what we think makes them so fantastic.

We are confident that this prospect outshines the competition as a result of this knowledge, which can subsequently blindside the recruiter throughout the hiring process. We can set high standards for the applicant, ignoring any red signals on their resume that make it obvious they are unfit for the position.

The remainder of the resume is covered with glitter as the halo effect spreads out, so it is irrelevant.

  1. Horn effect

The halo effect is completely opposed by the horn effect.

At this point, anything unfavorable about the candidate has our undivided attention and is immovable.

Because we feel that if a candidate is awful at A, they will also be bad at B or C, we allow it to cloud our judgment, which frequently affects our hiring decision. Or, to put it more bluntly, you may not want to hire someone because of a character flaw or feature of their personality that irritates you.

  1. Conformity bias

Conformity bias is based on the Asch Experiment, a well-known study that demonstrates how peer pressure from our social groups can influence our decision-making. We can be persuaded by others because of our fear of scorn or being judged negatively by our peers.

Imagine being the lone member of a panel to think that a specific candidate performed well. If so, would you say it and defy the other interviewers, or would you go along with the crowd and risk letting a strong applicant slide through the cracks?

  1. Illusory correlation

When a person mistakenly thinks there is a relationship between two variables when there isn’t one, this is known as an illusory correlation.

This frequently occurs when recruiters place an excessive amount of focus on irrelevant interview questions that they mistakenly assume would give them insight into a candidate’s behavior.

Numerous psychological research have shown that humans frequently overestimate the significance of events that are simple to recall and undervalue the significance of events that are difficult to recall. We are more likely to forge a strong connection between two items that are just marginally or not at all connected the easier it is to remember.

Now you know what to watch out for, what’s next?

Heuristics are a natural inclination for humans to use when making judgments because that is how we were wired. 

However, we must always keep in mind that while making a hiring decision, we shouldn’t rely primarily on them and must instead drive ourselves to make the process more organized and impartial.

Here’s a quick checklist for you:

  • Awareness of any implicit hiring biases your team may possess and keep an eye out for them.
  • Make sure your interviewers have received appropriate training that addresses common hiring prejudices.
  • Make employment choices based on facts rather than arbitrary assumptions.
  • Build a consistent and open hiring process.
  • Ensure you ask the same questions to all candidates throughout the interview by developing a standard interview guide.

Luckily for you and your business, you don’t have to go through all of that with our well-trained recruiters.

Why Partner With HawodTech Solutions

Market Intelligence for Free

We perform market research so we can guide you on competitive rates – no commitment.

Universities and Language Centers Partnerships

Fulfill your staffing requirements to optimize your business efficiency

Tools and Platforms

Minimize premium tools and online platforms.

Cost Efficiency

We only charge for successful placements. No upfront payment.

Relationship Management

Your Partner all throughout the process, even during onboarding.

Free Replacement

One-time free replacement within the initial three-month period.

Scroll to Top