5 Hiring Biases That You Need to Be Aware Of

Attracting and hiring the best candidates is one of the most important aspects of any business. However, recruiting a new employee is not an easy task.

Here are 5 types of hiring biases you should watch out for during your recruiting process.

The Halo Effect

Coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike, the halo effect is a term used to describe the way people subconsciously bias themselves to like other people. It often occurs in the recruiting process when a candidate’s good qualities smudge our perception and let big accomplishments overshadow everything else. It is the assumption that a positive attribute or impressive accomplishment in one area implies aptitude in other related areas. Recruiters have to be careful not to let big accomplishments overshadow everything else.


Similarity Attraction Effect

It is perfectly normal that we tend to approve or gravitate towards people who have the same personality like us. We are basically programmed to value similarity. Therefore, we essentially think that nothing can go wrong if we are with people who we get along with. As a result, we end up being bias towards a possible employee, who reminds us of ourselves and people whom we have positive attributions to and experiences with. The problem with this is if you hire people that are like you, you are building a team who think and act similarly like you, which will not result in productive and innovative solutions.
Do not hire someone base on things that are not correlated with on-the-job performance.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that occurs when we create hypothesis or preexisting beliefs in our minds and look for ways to prove it. It is more or less the act of making emotional decisions based on what you have read or heard about a person and then finding information to support your preconceived judgments.
Once our minds have decided that we like someone, we then try to find reasons to continue liking them.
For example, a hiring manager interviews the candidates, makes up his mind on recruiting one of them. However, before making his final decision, he contacts some of the candidate’s references and confirms that he/she is a good employee. The problem with this is the recruiter is not really seeking the truth about the candidate. It is more or less just reassurance of his preconceived beliefs.

Effective Heuristic

This term might sound really fancy and technical, but the meaning behind this terminology is simple. This bias happens when we judge candidates based on superficial factors such as visible tattoos, piercings or body weight-related discrimination and stigmatization, ignoring much more important factors such as the candidate’s problem-solving skills.
In 2012, BMC Public Health reported an alarming bias in HR professionals that was found by German researchers. The study shows that participants underestimated the abilities of heavier candidates, while normal-weight candidates’ abilities were overestimated.

Gender Bias

Gender bias often arises from gender stereotypes. For instance, recruiters may think that dominance and a tough attitude, which are typically seen as male traits are characteristics of CEOs. Thus, having this judgment from the beginning would make employers unconsciously look for male candidates for the position. Biased thinking leads to biased decisions.
Effective heuristic and gender bias will not only result in legal consequences, but also decrease the potential to hire talented and skilled people to your workforce.
So, do not judge a book by its cover.
In order to build a high-performing organization hiring managers and recruiters need to identify and implement ways to eliminate recruiting biases. Reducing biases in the recruitment process will increase diversity in the workplace, which will not only result in creative and innovative thinking, but better financial results.
Read more about diversity in the workplace and its benefits here.