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How to Avoid 12 Irrational Biases In Recruitment?

Hiring Biases
Pratisrutee Mishra
June 28, 2022

It Takes 7.6 Seconds To Make A Bad Hiring Decision!

What are your criteria to select an applicant for a job interview? A good CV, a charming personality, significant experience, quick wit or intellect, maybe? 

But, are you truly screening your candidates on these criteria? Or are you letting the hiring biases lead your decisions?

An HR manager takes barely 7.6 seconds to ‘SELECT' or ‘DISCARD' a candidate. Screening their Resume hastily and relying on the first impression made by the applicant. This can occur due to many factors. Such as limited time, an excessive number of applicants, the first impression bias, or other responsibilities. 

Recruiters notice a lot beyond the professional view when it comes to job interviews, be it virtual or in-person. Many other traits displayed by the candidates lead to various premature judgments, which are called ‘RECRUITER OPINIONS'. Now, to verify their assumptions, recruiters deliberately form questions with a set of expected answers and possible lies.


You might put the ideal candidate in the ‘NO' list just because your gut didn't send you the right vibe. If you go through the biographies of great personalities, they have always experienced a fair amount of rejection before achieving brilliance. 

As a recruiter, you must aim to hire a smarter future for your company! The genius in your candidate might not show up at the first encounter.  To screen for abilities and best talents, it is necessary to give up on biased human judgment while hiring.

What Is Mindful Hiring?

Benjamin Zander, a famous music conductor, while conducting, stands silent, and gestures to his musicians on stage in a concert. This is the best example of mindful hiring skill, where each musician understands and bonds beyond words with the conductor. The melodious performance presented, is the collective harmony of Benjamin's efforts in selecting, training, and coordinating his team of musicians. 

However, the skill of assembling a productive team does not come naturally to all. Hiring, as a talent, is underrated. Nobody teaches HR managers how to select candidates, or how to assess them deeply without any bias. Then again, the definition of a good hire can change across industries. 

To keep in mind your organizational motives and hiring without prejudice and various other biases is referred to as mindful hiring. In other words, mindful hiring simply refers to objectively assessing candidates.

But then, do the HR managers truly screen objectively? 

A study by Harvard Business Review states that  only 40% of employers use an IQ test, Skill test, and Attitude test. 

Nathan Kuncel and his colleagues found that when recruiters use well-defined hiring criteria and objective tests, they can still face certain human biases. These biases can lead to the selection of poor candidates. In this article, you will read about the human biases that affect hiring decisions and the alternative solutions to adopt.  

Types Of Hiring Biases In Interviews

To rectify bad hiring decisions, you need to first acknowledge the types of biases in hiring. These human biases can come in many forms. For example, pressure from authority, lengthy interviews and even minimal irritation caused due to bad weather or any other personal issues. You cannot prevent all these biases while making a decision. 

Most prominently, candidates experience gender bias and age bias. Many other external factors like background, caste, religion, skin color, attire, and so on affect the filtering of good quality candidates. Some human biases might be related to the interviewer, whereas some others could be ploys set by the interviewees. 

Intriguingly, these biases can be conscious or unconscious.

The conscious biases are mostly preventable with a logical approach and careful thinking. But, the unconscious biases can often slip past your attention, no matter how careful your approach is. 

Certain conscious biases can look and sound like, “Oh, what a coincidence. We share the same Alma Mater!” or “God, when will the list get over?”. While some unconscious biases might come as thoughts that sound like “Huh, what's so different? All the candidates say so!” or “What were they thinking when they thought of appearing in that get up”. 

Conscious Bias: Are You Deliberately Overlooking Flaws?

In layman's terms, conscious biases are factors that prevent you from properly assessing the subject based on evidence and reasoning. In the context of hiring, HR managers or recruiters might deliberately overlook flaws in the Resume and behavioral presentation under pressure. Furthermore, unimportant traits like caste, gender, marital status, and so on, can also be factors affecting judgments.

Long gone is the stereotype that academic prodigies make the best employees. To make sure you are hiring genuine candidates, you must avail certain objective tools. This is where the role and utility of intelligent HR tech for organizational decision-makers are important.

Which side are you on?

Lengthy, time-consuming, faulty, traditional hiring OR smart PMaps hiring assessments?

If you don't switch to modern hiring tools in the 21st century, you'll experience some common conscious biases, including:

Unconscious Bias: Are You Hiding Your Thoughts From Yourself?

There is a high chance of you not being aware that a candidate's dressing style is irritating you. These often occur without any rational thoughts or even consciousness, and therefore these are mostly impossible to prevent. Proceeding with the interview while you have already formed a judgment will certainly disturb your hiring objective.

Here is an underrated piece of information – The candidates get invited to one job interview after applying for 21-80 job postings on an average. Why? Because even the most competent candidate can fall victim to a recruiter's first impression bias right from their Resume!

Besides the first impression bias, there are some other cognitive biases adversely affecting the quality of hire:

You See What “They” Want To Show: Your Biases Are Favoring Candidates!

Biases can be an error in perception. Your candidates know you would give in to these biases. They prepare thoroughly to present a good impression at the first glance. The tendency to act differently with the knowledge of being watched is termed as ‘DISPLAY RULES'. 

According to Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, when individuals are not aware of being watched, they act almost the same but, when they are under observation, their behavior significantly changes. 

Applicants become conscious of how interviewers are viewing them. In their enthusiasm to clear the HR rounds, job seekers tend to put up a facade of competence. There are certain particular behavioral dispositions they adopt to be perceived as fit for the job. Below are some tactics your candidates might be using on you!. 

A) Interview Body Language

As you type ‘Interview body language' in the Google bar, you would be able to see a number of recommendations. These recommendations include tips, dos and don'ts, position, eye contact, and so on. All the candidates usually go through all these pre-interview preparations to present themselves formally in the best way possible. Next time you see a sophisticated interviewee, you had better be aware of their tactics!

B) Way Of Speaking

The tone, pitch, fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary of a candidate directly affect the first impression judgment of the recruiter. Nowadays, applicants are aware of your unconscious biases! They rehearse answers that are ideal for the job role. You may have noticed that there are many Instagram influencers that teach candidates how to answer questions diplomatically and also how to provide a witty response. 

C) Appearance & Expressions

Yes, you read it right! Appearance and expressions of a candidate can be factors that influence your views about an individual. You must be thinking– “NAH… I never get swayed by appearances or expressions.” 

Now consider this… Your candidate shows up with unpressed formals and punctured boots. Their appearance can instantly make you wonder if the applicant is at all serious about the interview or job position.

D) White Lies

One of the most frequent mutual biases committed by recruiters and employed by candidates is ‘white lies'. These lies are acceptable to the interviewers. In fact, 42.5% of employees believe it's ‘OK' to throw in white lies on a job application. 

Let's go through some other hiring statistics garnered by The Interview Guys. Responses from 800 employees and 200 managers, when analyzed by The Interview Guys, reveal that;

5 Hiring Red Flags To Identify And Solve

In order to prevent irrational hiring, you can adopt various effective defenses. The most important of which is HR awareness. An organization must train their recruiters on the bias possibility and equip them with adequate hiring kits. The HR manuals might also help in guiding the recruitment objectively and reduce human judgement. Below are some other ways of preventing bad hires;

A) Logical Assumptions

Problem: You would not wish to be someone who stalks their candidates' social media accounts to ensure they are reliable. While meeting new people, a certain amount of curiosity gets fostered. Giving in to these urges, hiring managers often end up performing a ‘BACKGROUND CHECK' on the social media activities of candidates.

Solution: One best alternative to truly check your candidates' personality and background is to switch from traditional verbal interviews to online psychometric hiring tools.

B) Transparency & Consistency

Problem: The recruiters are the face of the organizations. The first association of any applicant with the company is exerted through the HRs. The recruiters need to present themselves as well-aligned with their organizational values. 

Solution: Maintaining transparency and consistency while hiring candidates will help them reduce biases. Not just that, it will enhance the experience of the candidates and increase their enthusiasm to work with the organization.

C) Equal Questions For All Candidates

Problem: Many times, to validate their human judgement, hiring managers tend to make up questions unfairly different for every candidate. This is to procure answers favoring their predictions regarding the interviewees in the first look. 

Solution: To significantly reduce recruitment bias, interviewers must implement a standard question bank for every candidate. And evaluate the answers of each applicant independent of any personal judgments.

D) Elimination/Decrease In Heuristic

Problem: Do not make the mistake of imposing your bitter encounters on potential candidates. If you ever had a bad hire in your life, it is natural to get conscious of whom you select next. However, it is found that most hiring managers utilize their worst experiences as a cue. This is called heuristic bias.

They do this to make quick judgments and avoid any possible mishire. Although you are only ‘BEING CAREFUL', most recruiters end up hiring even worse candidates. 

Solution: To reduce this effect, you can either cross-check your assumption with candidates' background details or validate it with any reliable psychometric test.

E) Interview Training – HR Awareness

Problem: Gen-Z candidates expect advanced hiring trends and remote selection for almost all job roles. To attract their interest and make bias-free decisions, hiring managers are required to cope with 21st-century hiring techniques. 

Solution: Besides the training manuals for HRs, companies must consider employing better HR tech services. The best alternative or solution to stop unruly hiring biases is to adopt recruitment tools. These tools help you in identifying the potent front-line candidates for your job role. And also, cultural fit employees for your organization. 

Sum Up

This article only informs you regarding the faulty interview practices you might be performing. The next step is to implement the information and rectify your hiring faults and effectively recruit top talent. 

PMaps Assessments help you assess your candidates quickly and efficiently. Our psychometric assessments can gauge the job-related aptitude through situation judgmental test items. And it also evaluates personality traits through fun, visual-based questions. These assessments also evaluate the genuineness of your applicants through reliable lie scales

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Frequently Asked Questions-Job Specification Vs Job Description

Learn more about this blog through the commonly asked questions:

What factors contribute to the quick decision-making process in hiring?

Factors such as limited time, a large number of applicants, first impression bias, and other responsibilities often contribute to the quick decision-making process in hiring.

How do recruiters form opinions about candidates during job interviews?

Recruiters often form opinions about candidates based on various traits displayed during job interviews, leading to premature judgments known as "recruiter opinions."

What is the risk associated with relying solely on gut feelings or biases during the hiring process?

Relying solely on gut feelings or biases during the hiring process can lead to the dismissal of potentially suitable candidates, ultimately impacting the company's ability to hire the best talent.

How can recruiters mitigate the influence of biases in hiring decisions?

Recruiters can mitigate the influence of biases by implementing objective screening criteria, utilizing assessment tools like those offered by PMaps, and fostering a culture of fair and inclusive hiring practices.

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