Whether you are staffing in Lumberton or Charlotte, unconscious bias can sabotage your recruiting efforts. You could be missing out on a great hire by not being aware of the flawed shortcuts your brain makes. To help you avoid such missed opportunities, watch for these unconscious biases in your hiring process.
The Halo Effect
This cognitive bias involves allowing one obvious positive trait about a person to affect how we judge them in other unrelated areas. If a person is attractive, we might assume they’re also intelligent, kind and funny. If they attended an Ivy League school, you may see them as a great fit for your company, even if other candidates better match your ideal candidate profile. The inverse of the halo effect is the “horn effect,” in which a perceived negative attribute may influence your overall assessment of a candidate. For instance, the fact a candidate may have graduated from a public university or even a community college may cause you to overlook qualities that may make them the perfect hire.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information that confirms a belief you already have and subconsciously filter out all evidence to the contrary. For instance, an interviewer who is hiring for a management position may believe that men are inherently better managers than women. As a result, they might find they’re looking for reasons to confirm that a female candidate isn’t right for the position – and overlook evidence that the female candidate might be the perfect fit. Confirmation bias not only impairs your ability to find the best candidates, but it can also be particularly dangerous when it involves negative assumptions about federally protected groups of people.
The affinity bias describes our natural tendency to get along with people who are like us. It’s easy for hiring managers to fall victim to affinity bias, especially when evaluating for a culture fit. A social media company founded by and targeting younger people might be naturally drawn to candidates who fit the standard “hipster” profile, while shunning older candidates with whom they don’t share an immediate connection.
Remember, to be a good cultural fit; a candidate should be aligned with the company’s core values. They don’t need to look like you or share your background or interests.
Conformity bias refers to our tendency to behave like others in a group, even if that behavior conflicts with our personal beliefs. If that sounds like peer pressure, you’re right – it is. However, in a hiring setting, it means allowing the opinions of other stakeholders to sway your opinions about a candidate.
Let’s say you’ve made up your mind about a candidate and were able to avoid all the aforementioned biases in your evaluation. When it comes time to debrief about the candidate, all the other interviewers have an opinion that differs from yours.
Make sure that when you examine your conflicting opinions, you’re all measuring using the same metrics. If you’ve done everything right according to a structured hiring process, stick to your guns and lean on the data you gathered in the interview process.
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