What is Hiring Bias?
As humans, we make multiple decisions each day. Psychology today even states that every day on average we make 35,000 decisions. However, our thought process and decision-making ability are shaped via bias both conscious and subconscious which changes our perception of reality. According to a Harvard Business Review Report, bias forms a negative impact on our judgment, often leading to favoring particular people who have a similar background, ideology, education, and other common grounds to us. A similar prejudice is also found in the recruitment sphere that goes by the name of hiring bias.
Hiring bias refers to the phenomenon of forming a conscious or an unconscious opinion about a candidate or an employee using predetermined notions.
This bias can lead to the loss of potential candidates and even a deterioration in the brand name. Forbes states that hiring bias can lead to unintentional discrimination, poor decision-making, degraded profitability, and more. Let’s take a deeper look into hiring bias through its sub-categories.
Is Hiring Bias Subconscious in Nature?
Not always. Usually, hiring bias is divided into two basic categories. They include:
- Conscious bias: Conscious bias is when recruiters realize their preference and dislike for different human beings. When these biases are voiced then they become explicit biases.
- Unconscious bias: Unconscious bias refers to the subconscious practice of trusting gut feeling and accepting stereotypes rather than basing a judgment on evidence and logical thinking.
So how does recruitment bias take its root? Let’s check that out too from the following section below.
When does Bias in Hiring Process Grow?
While many consider that recruitment bias at the job offering stage, yet it occurs much earlier. Bias in hiring process can be found throughout the entire procedure. That is, right from the screening stage to the selection stage, recruitment bias persists throughout the entire hiring process.
Firstly, recruiters can lose potential candidates while manually sifting bulk resumes. Since, recruiters often judge candidates based on their names, education, gender, race, and other factors. Apart from that bias also surfaces at the interview stage. Hiring managers judge candidates based on their English proficiency, knowledge and experience gaps, and other factors that indirectly do not add up to potential determination. Hence, interview biases also play a major role in developing bias in hiring process.
However, based on various factors bias in hiring process is categorized. In the following section, we have elaborated on each type of recruitment bias for your enhanced understanding.
What are the Different Types of Bias in the Workplace?
If you want to uproot recruitment bias from your organization then you need to identify the various types of bias that your organization has. However, you might not understand the unconscious bias in hiring process practices at your organization. Hence, we have collected a list of the most relevant hiring and interview biases that have been practiced to date. These include:
If you take in information that aligns with your ideology and beliefs and reject every other data then you are practicing confirmation bias. In confirmation bias, recruiters usually do not look deep into the matter and just rely on their intuition to make a decision. It can also be said that recruiters take a stand of proving that their instincts are right. Thereby, they try to cross-examine candidates in various ways to bring evidence to their opinion. This often happens when you look at a presentable interview or a well-groomed candidate.
In this, recruiters often overlook the proverb of “don’t judge a book by its cover” and rather fix their decision on the first impression. According to statistics, 60% of interviewers have said to form an opinion about a candidate within 15 minutes of an interview. Moreover, some even form a judgment before the interview itself. Hence, when it comes to confirmation bias recruiters form a judgment based on a single detail rather than digging deep into candidates’ potential.
It often happens that we feel a greater attraction towards those who have similar traits to us. This forms the base of affinity bias. In affinity bias, recruiters act warmly towards those who have a similar background, education, or even geographic location with them. This empathy is just an emotion, yet it has the potential to disrupt neutral decision-making. Hence, affinity bias enables recruiters to ignore potential candidates and prefer those who share a common interest with them.
We easily build rapport with those who share a common interest with us. Despite being a good strategy to make friends, this can backfire on your plan to draw potential candidates. When recruiters tend to hire those with whom they find themselves similar irrespective of the job criteria it is called similarity or ingroup bias.
Projection bias refers to the process when recruiters expectantly predetermine candidates’ future goals, objectives, beliefs, and more and align it with the organizational requirements. Although their candidates have a different set of goals, beliefs, and more which often leads to the selection of under-qualified candidates.
In this hiring bias, recruiters tend to magnify one aspect of a candidate and believe that they can overtake other responsibilities too. This often happens when recruiters do not perform a thorough check of candidates’ skills and experience, rather they burden them with something that they cannot do. Furthermore, recruiters get blindsided by the good side of a candidate that they determinedly overlook every evidence that states the candidate’s incompetence.
The Horn effect or the pitchfork effect is the exact opposite of the halo effect. This unconscious bias grabs recruiters’ attention towards a negative aspect of a candidate, further clouding their judgment. So, despite having the potential skills to excel in the position, recruiters presume that the same candidate has poorer skills for other tasks as well.
The Status Quo bias is when recruiters hold on to a single piece of information or experience to hire candidates. This hiring bias leads recruiters to hire candidates who have similar experiences in the past or they try to figure out a replica of the person who used to hold the position. The former bars freshers join the field while in the latter recruiters reject a huge bulk of candidates without even taking a deeper glance at their profiles.
Effective Heuristic/Non-Verbal Bias
Despite being an early survival mechanism, effective heuristic or nonverbal bias is still implemented today. Recruiters base their decisions on effective heuristic or nonverbal bias when they judge candidates’ competency based on external traits. That can include grooming, tattoos, physical appearance, and more. However, this hiring bias can lead to severe legal consequences. This finding of personal bias often leads recruiters to lose efficient talents.
Often recruiters anchor their opinion on a previous employee. This leads them to search for someone who has similar if not exact skills, experience, qualifications. Hence, expectation anchor bias bars other candidates’ chances to move up the recruitment ladder.
Bulk resume sifting makes recruiters often form the bias of comparing previously sifted resumes with the present ones. This leaves the fact that each resume should be judged as per the individuals’ merit, skills, and experience. Hence, recruiters fail to determine a candidate’s capability for the job role since they start comparing his/her strengths and weaknesses with other candidates.
Based on the Asch Experiment, conformity bias explains how mass opinion can dominate an individual’s opinion. The fear of being looked down upon and ridiculed by peers often leads a single recruiter to change his/her opinion.
So how will these biases have an adverse effect on your organization? We have explained six different ways how personal bias in hiring can affect your overall organization’s name and game.
How can Hiring Bias affect your Organization?
We have already stated how hiring bias can affect your organization. Not only will it degrade your organization’s growth but it will also limit your workforce as well as the entire culture. Some of the ways in which recruitment bias can affect your organization include:
Interview biases often come as open threats to law pursuits and that can lead to severe consequences for your brand image. While it may seem a little issue to fuss about, yet in major countries like the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia biases are illegal. These countries have created special regulations to prevent employment discrimination. Various “protected groups” (like the Protected Veterans) base on age, sex race, religion, disability, and other factors. Hence, instilling DEI is extremely important to save your company from critical legal actions.
Hiring bias will in the end tarnish your brand image. Since the general public will see you as a “nepotism” spreader when you select a lesser qualified candidate irrespective of having potential in the line.
Lesser Potential Talent
In this candidate-driven market, rich talents are hard to come by. Moreover, if your company gains the title of using a bias in hiring process then it will narrow down the source even further. Potential candidates may not feel encouraged to put their precious time into forwarding their applications to your openings.
Unconscious bias in hiring process often leads to less qualified candidate selection. That means the fall of productivity is guaranteed. Apart from that if the candidate fails to adjust in the given position, they may leave or get fired from the organization. However, hiring the wrong candidate means a huge waste of both costs and time. Forbes states that hiring a wrong candidate can equal 40% of an employee’s annual salary. Thus, hiring bias leads to a huge expenditure without a profit.
Low Profitability and Sales
Unconscious bias in hiring also affects sales and profitability which in the end disturbs your organization’s bottom line.
Diversity provides immense benefits to any organization that wants to gain a competitive edge. However, with bias in hiring process diversity does not stand a chance. Hence, recruitment bias closes the path to efficiency, productivity, sales and profits, and other benefits that diversity brings.
So how can recruitment and interview biases be eradicated such that diversity can spread its beneficial branches in your organization?
How to Overcome Hiring Bias?
Being biased often surfaces in our thoughts unconsciously. So removing it completely from the process can be a difficult task. However, following the given steps below can help you to remove major traces of unconscious bias in interviewing and recruitment!
Job Description Modification
Job descriptions play a major role in broadcasting whether you practice unconscious bias in hiring. Hence, to attract diverse candidates, you must choose the right words to frame your job description. For example, verbally “guys” may sound neutral. However, when the same is written in words attracts male candidates more than females.
Moreover, research shows that words like “determined” and “competitive” result in women feeling less inclusive in the workplace. On the other hand, women are attracted to expressions like “cooperative” and “collaborative”.
Hence, gendered language often leads to unconscious bias in hiring. Proofreading the job description after developing to identify gendered words can surely help to remove recruitment bias.
Talent Sources Broadening
The second step that you can opt for to recruitment bias is to go for global talent sourcing platforms. This will help to omit affinity bias from the recruitment process, allowing you to look forward to getting in touch with people who are not similar to you.
For this, you can opt for platforms that you haven’t chosen in the past. Google as a part of its intentional diversity program partners with HBCU to broaden their talent sourcing channels and omit hiring bias.
Referral System Restructuring
Referrals have become a major source of recruitment in the present day. According to a survey, over a third of US employees get employment using referrals. The reasons why organizations opt for referrals include: firstly, hiring becomes faster and secondly, organizations can retain employees longer. Yet they lead to hiring bias.
Hence, restructuring your referral system can help to avoid hiring bias in the recruitment process. You can transform your referral system by implementing a scheme of rewarding employees who refer to diverse candidates. This can surely improve diversity at your organization and reduce chances of personal bias in hiring process.
AI for Unconscious Bias Reduction
No doubt AI improves diversity and removes hiring bias. AI-based interview tools run pre-screening in which the system asks candidates role-based objective questions to assess candidates’ potential. Furthermore, AI in many ways automates major tasks, freeing your hiring team, and engaging with your candidates in a much meaningful way. Due to the lack of human interference, AI successfully removes the various types of bias in the workplace.
Loreal portrays one real-life example of the implementation of AI in recruitment. Loreal leveraged AI to screen 12,000 applicants for their internship program of 80 seats. They not only managed to get their hands on the most diverse candidates for their team but also save 200 hours of their recruitment time!
Interview Structure Combination
Unconscious bias in interviewing often shows up during the recruitment process. But once you redesign your interview structure, you can prevent interview biases from penetrating your hiring process.
However, in structured interviews, candidates are asked the same questions. Now measuring diverse candidates on the same parameter can damage the candidates’ experience. On the other hand, unstructured interviews are handled completely by the interviewers and hence, feels more personal. Yet they can lead to unconscious bias since interviewers often select those with whom they feel comfortable.
Thereby, you can try combining both of these interview structures. On one hand, you can ask the interviewers to interview with a set of pre-planned questions. On the other hand, you can keep a lot of time for unstructured-based questions and discussions. In this way, you can decrease a lot of chances of letting interview biases enter your recruitment.
Unbiased Questions Setting
It often happens that while talking about our success we give credit to our behavior, skills, and merit. Yet when it comes to a failure we acknowledge that external factors were the reason. However, when we analyze others’ success we often say that luck made it happen. While for others’ failure we blame it on candidates’ lack of personality and lack of merit. This unconscious bias can degrade your hiring quality and diversity.
Therefore, you must pick your interview questions very carefully. You can even opt for behavioral assessments to remove interview biases.
Multiple Interviews and Diversity Panel Usage
We often judge a candidate within 15 seconds of meeting him or her. This is nothing but hiring bias triggering this judgment on first impression.
To remove this bias, you can interview your candidate in several sections and by several people. The judgment of many people over time can help you to form an unbiased opinion about your candidate. Hence, this process can remove personal bias in hiring process.
Better Performance Predictors Finding
First reference points often influence the way we think about a candidate. Since those included among some of the first pieces of data we gather. Irrelevant performance predictors like GPA can hugely affect the recruitment process in terms of diversity. Despite being proven as a moderate performance predictor, GPA still influences decision-making negatively in the recruitment of major organizations even today.
Therefore, you must try to suppress hiring bias triggering information that has no connection to candidates’ performance and potential.
Unbiased Skill Assessment Deployment
Rather than relying on gut instinct, you can get a complete picture of your candidates’ potential from skill-based assessment. This quantitative measurement procedure can help your recruitment team to focus on job-based criteria, and make fairer evaluations. Hence, skill assessments reduce traces of recruitment bias effectively.
Weighted Assessment Development
The halo effect often triggers recruiters to select a candidate based on a skill the recruiters like the best. To remove this unconscious bias, you can pair subjective interviewing with rating scales. Apart from that, you can also collaborate quantified and qualified assessments to effectively remove unconscious bias in interviewing and hiring.
Neutral Hiring Practices
Impartial or equitable hiring practices consist of three major steps, all of which contribute to reducing hiring bias effectively. The first step includes providing transparent salary information. This step effectively decreases racial and gender recruitment bias from negotiations. The second step includes avoiding salary history inquiries. This step helps diverse candidates to close the wage gap. Lastly, fair chance practice instituting helps in providing an equal chance to candidates having criminal histories.
Women and minorities often fall victim to hiring bias when it comes to salary negotiations. So, to portray a bias-free image of your company you must try putting a salary range for the vacancy in the job description. Moreover, this will also help you to remove unconscious bias in hiring especially during salary negotiations. This will make your candidates feel more secure to apply for the job. According to research, two-thirds of candidates apply for openings that state a salary range.
Avoid Salary History Enquiry
Enquiring about salary history from candidates often leads to paying inequity. Salary resulting from gender bias can often become an anchoring bias. Today, asking for salary history has been labeled as illegal in the US. Hence, avoiding past salary history interrogation can help in reducing gender and anchoring bias in hiring process.
Equitable Chance Practice Institution
Once we hear that a candidate has a criminal record, we often avoid hiring them. Research says, 50% of candidates with a criminal record do not receive a call compared to candidates with a neutral background. Hence, before enquiring about their criminal history, you must first analyze their skills and behavior for effective recruitment.
Unconscious bias in interviewing and hiring often results after recruiters get a glimpse of candidates’ first and last names. Candidates with a foreign-sounding name got a callback 28% less than other candidates. Despite having congruent birth location, educational backgrounds, and work histories unconscious bias dwelled.
Hence, many organizations replace names on resumes with numbers. This allows you to focus on just skills and qualifications rather than name, location, gender, and other personal information. This can result in enhancing diversity in the organization.
Moreover, AI-based tools have also proven to automate the entire screening process to eliminate hiring bias and improve diversity.
Huge data processing by the human brain opens a great gap for unconscious bias in hiring. Providing awareness training helps your recruitment team to bring the various types of bias in the workplace to the surface. Furthermore, awareness training also helps to recognize subject thinking during interviews.
Hence, with diversity and unconscious bias awareness training, you can easily identify and eliminate unconscious bias in hiring process.
How does AI-based Digital Interview Software help in Promoting Diversity?
Interviewing and hiring bias have seen steady growth despite all the measures taken to promote diversity. With over 11 million data pieces encountered every day, our brain can only cope with 40 pieces per second consciously. Therefore, the human brain fails to analyze and utilize great data consciously when it comes to decision-making.
Forbes states that AI can help recruiters to manage this information overload to make accurate and bias-free decisions. Leveraging AI and data analytics can help in creating models out of this bulk data for success prediction optimization. With clear transparency into the data collection and usage, recruiters can identify biases and remove them efficiently. Moreover, recruiters can customize and readjust models for the qualitative section.
Apart from that AI also undergoes blind screening. With intelligent and powerful algorithms, resumes are scored based on qualifications and past experiences rather than personal information. Hence, AI allows candidates to climb up the ladder of recruitment on the power of their merit and potential. This in the end helps organizations to select the candidates who can contribute to its growth and success.
With the power of AI and Advanced Analytics, Birbal has gained a huge reputation for enhanced candidate selection in the least possible time. Allowing you to focus on other important operations, Birbal single-handedly screens and interviews candidates in the most ethical way. Check out the results that major sectors across the globe have witnessed after implementing Birbal! Still not satisfied? Get a free trial and experience the power of AI in benefiting your organization!