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Hiring Managers: How to Avoid Interview Biases

Question:
What are interview biases that I should look out for as a hiring manager and how do I avoid these impacting hiring decisions?

Answer:
With the current low unemployment rates across the nation, today’s job market favors the candidate, rather than the employer. As such, it is especially important not to let subconscious biases affect the way that you review candidates for your company’s openings. Some interview biases that we all know we should avoid are fairly obvious, such as race, age, gender, weight and sexual orientation. Some biases are less likely to jump out and they can be so tricky that even a seasoned interviewer will fall into them from time to time. Some of these interview biases include:

  • First Impression – The hiring manager may allow a first impression of a candidate to dictate their entire reflection of an interview which may benefit or harm the candidate’s chances of selection. Ex. The way a candidate greets you at the start of the interview.
  • Halo/Horn Effect – This one can be two-sided: the interviewer may find one good trait and will favor the candidate based on this trait (the Halo Effect). Adversely, the interviewer may find one negative trait and use that as a disqualifier (the Horn Effect).
  • Contrast Effect – A hiring manager may be tempted to compare candidates against one another rather than on the job requirements.
  • Personal Identification – This occurs when the interviewer identifies with the candidate on a personal level, rather than evaluating the candidate on job-related criteria.
  • Inconsistency – A hiring manager may find that they ask different sets of questions to interview for the same position based on appearance.

Being able to identify these interview biases is the first step. Knowing what these reactions look like, feel like, and how to avoid them can be helpful, but here are some steps that you can use to help objectively evaluate candidates:

  • Create a list of job-related skills that are important for the position. Target your evaluation of each candidate based solely on the job-related skills and requirements that you create to avoid personal judgements.
  • Standardize the interview process. Try interviewing each candidate with the same process using the same list of questions and in the same surroundings to allow each candidate an even playing field to impress upon you.
  • Create a rubric for important skills and traits for the position in order to avoid weighing one trait more than another based on the candidate. This process is a visual way to review each candidate and be as objective as possible. Plus, there are great resources available that are fairly economical for conducting employee assessments.
  • Take detailed notes during the interview process. Try and capture as much of the candidate’s exact response as possible to each question so that you are not relying solely on memory. Take the time to record your reflections directly after the interview based on relevant skills so that you can go back and review candidates fairly if the interview process is lengthy.
  • Use group feedback to add to your own reflection of a candidate. This could be through a group interview process or just having someone who is familiar with the job-related skills to review your interview notes for best fit.

Finding the right candidate can be difficult enough when the market favors the employer. Avoid putting yourself (or your company) into a frustrating or uncomfortable situation by sticking to proven and repeatable steps to create a compliant and straight-forward interviewing process.

Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why strategic HR inc. utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.