Unconscious Bias Reality Check: Are You Doing These to Your Candidates?

Sabrina Son


Any time humans are involved, there will be some semblance of unconscious bias included in the decision making. Although we try to prevent biases into seeping its way into our lives, there really is no way to completely prevent it—that’s why it’s called “unconscious bias.” It’s not to say that we can’t make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of unconscious bias that makes its way into our lives. In this article, we’re reminding you of 4 types of unconscious biases to be cognizant of during the recruiting and hiring process.


1. Confirmation bias

Recruiters have to weed through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and phone screens. And it’s not uncommon for them to make snap decisions based on experiences and perceived truths.

However, these snap decisions can easily backfire. If a recruiter sees something on a candidate’s resume that leads them to believe the candidate will be the perfect fit for the role, the recruiter may latch on to that one thing and then continue to pose questions that would confirm their belief. The thing about this form of bias is that recruiters can easily pass up qualified candidates because they were fixated on that one thing on one specific candidate’s resume.

2. Expectation anchor

Expectation anchor is somewhat similar to confirmation bias, where a recruiter can get caught up in one, and only one, piece of information about a candidate and then make a decision based on the candidate off of that one piece of information.

To attach a real-world example to this, think about if a recruiter was good friends with a coworker who recently left the role, and the recruiter had to find a backfill. The recruiter thinks this coworker is exceptional and knows that whoever fills the role has very big shoes to fill. Due to these extremely high expectations, the recruiter then immediately dismisses candidates without any other considerations.

3. Contrast effect

As mentioned earlier, recruiters have a lot of candidates to screen. And some candidates are better than others. If a recruiter screens a candidate and that candidates nails every single answer, there’s a chance the contrast will take into effect. This means that a recruiter will use that one exceptional candidate as the bar for other candidates to meet, and oftentimes, the subsequent candidates will be perceived as not good enough.

4. Personal similarity bias

Ever heard of hiring for culture fit? Sometimes when companies hire for culture fit, they’re looking for people who are similar to the employees who are already there. This, in return, would create the opposite of a diverse workplace.

Recruiting and hiring doesn’t have to revolve around unconscious bias. In fact, using automation and AI will help remove these biases by focusing only on the candidate’s experience and skills rather than on their personality.

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