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Skill Assessments: Reduce Unconscious Bias In Hiring Process!

Pratisrutee Mishra
March 31, 2023

A Skills assessment reduces unconscious biases in recruitment by improving the efficiency of recruiters to make the right hiring decisions. 40% of hiring decisions are influenced by unconscious bias. It is clear that we can barely escape the powerful hold of biases on our emotions. However, it is necessary to find and maintain a balance.

And for this balance, you must be able to distinguish the thin line between irrational hiring and rational hiring. What is unconscious bias? What are the forms of it that keep recurring in the hiring process? And the most important point of concern, that is, the ‘role of skills assessment in reducing unconscious bias' will be discussed in  this article.

What Are Unconscious Biases?

One such unconscious bias  that we humans commonly experience is cognitive bias. This is also understood by the name of unconscious bias or implicit bias. Moreover, some even term this error of perception as an ‘implicit stereotype'.

This is experienced almost everyday by all of us. In fact, according to cognitive neuroscientists, 95% of our brain activities are unconscious. It is also one of the most stubborn biases experienced by HRs while hiring candidates, or during  a job interview. 

It becomes essential to be aware of involuntary judgements in order to hire the right candidates  for one's organization. To initiate consciousness, recruiters must understand the core causal factors of these biases.

Sigmund Freud: The mind is like an iceberg; it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. 

Types Of Unconscious Biases In Hiring

Unconscious bias is often rooted deep in the cognitive framework of the person. It can express itself in the form of preference, judgment , prejudice, tendency, and repelling behaviors. Now, the point of concern is how to identify, acknowledge, and eliminate the unconscious biases in hiring. Given below  are some common occurrences that take place due to  these human biases. 

Generalization Effects

The generalization effect refers to the overall perception about a group or community, which is mostly wrong. For instance, ‘David' is assumed to be more professionally competent than ‘Dhiman'. This is a result of the inherent  idea that ‘Europeans' are smarter and more fluent as compared to ‘Asians'. 

Similarly, in another scenario, interviewer bias due to generalization occurs with an instant assumption. It is important for the hiring managers to note that not all the behavior that candidates display in a job interview reflects their true nature .

Intuition Dependency

An Analysis of 17 studies have inferred that a data-led recruitment process has outperformed the human basis of candidate selection by at least 25%. The reason being the recruiter biases and wrong interpretation of ‘gut feeling' in the selection process. Bad hires can adversely affect a company's productivity and development.

Though intuition can help recruiters make the right decision sometimes, many other instances suggest that there is an intervention of complex second thoughts and perception bias. Choosing a candidate in such a case can be extremely risky . 

“The effect holds in any situation with a large number of candidates, regardless of whether the job is on the front line, in middle management, or (yes) in the C-suite.”- University of Minnesota

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias in hiring works in the background with   first impression judgments . First impression bias is very common in the traditional recruitment process, as it does not require validity or evidence to function.

It takes less than 30 seconds to form a first impression, and this hasty perception can result in  unaware biases in hiring. Some common first impression biases to be aware  of are look-alike bias, attraction bias, positive appearance bias, similarity bias, confidence bias, and many more.  

Conformity Bias

Conformity bias refers to the tendency of the job interview panel members to suppress their original opinions. This can be due to the presence of a senior member or a majority of members with contrasting viewpoints, such as that of the individual recruiter. This effect was discovered by Asch (1951) through a laboratory experiment. 

He found that about 32% of participants conformed to the majority of members who  gave the  wrong answer. This phenomenon typically occurs during campus hiring. When a panel of interviewers makes a final hiring decision, it is mostly a conformed mutual decision. And this does not guarantee good hires.  

Halo Effect & Horn Effects

This is another type of first impression bias. It specifically refers to the positive or negative first image of the candidate that influences recruiters' judgments  later. This interview bias often goes hand-in-hand with other biases such as heuristic bias, beauty bias, gender bias, age bias, and many more.

The Halo effect refers to the tendency of assuming a person is good when they are well groomed, well-spoken, and well-behaved . In contrast, the horn effect is the tendency to judge a candidate negatively on the basis of their appearance, accent, and other external factors, without strong evidence.

Recency Bias & Primacy Bias

It's always “I am ideal for this job role because of…blah blah blah…to be able to carry out the responsibilities better than any other.” You must have encountered this response several times as a recruiter. It typically occurs because the experience with the last candidate lingers till the next candidate.

In contrast  to recency bias, as explained above, primacy bias occurs when the first candidate you reviewed with a fresh mind stays in your memory longer than the 2nd or the 3rd candidate. If your  experience with the first candidate goes well, then most of the interviews you take will lead to a positive hiring decision. 

Hiring Without Unconscious Biases

Apple, in 2020, attempted to improve inclusion and diversity by recruiting 64% more minorities. Hiring without unconscious bias is an impossible task. However, skills assessments help you manage and reduce the influence of unconscious hiring decisions, and the following aspects of hiring will improve;

Gain better diversity and inclusion in the workplace

  • Hire candidates who are genuinely interested
  • Prevent talent shortage
  • Reduce risk of early employee attrition
  • Hire candidates who can be an asset to your company
  • Earn an active team of new hires

Ways To Prevent Bad Hiring Decisions

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are”- Jim Collins, Former Professor at Stanford Business School. 

To find a good candidate or hire a job-fit candidate requires a thoroughly planned recruitment strategy. The candidate filter efficiency determines the quality of hires from a pool of candidates. Adopting new-day  hiring solutions will not only save you from recruiting a bad hire, but will also  save you money and time. 

You will find a lot of guides suggesting various ways of preventing bad hires . Some of these  are;
  • Tracking hiring expense
  • Sourcing of potential employees
  • Managing a huge influx of candidates
  • Hiring on the basis of scientific evaluation
  • Cross inspecting the candidates with behavioral questions in a job interview


Today, with advanced assessment solutions, you can make error-free  recruitment decisions. PMaps takes you one step closer to making the right hiring decisions for your company. PMaps' skills assessments identify genuine and truthful candidates with a higher potential for  productivity. We also predict the duration of retention of your candidates.  

Hire brilliant salespeople, customer service executives, and identify high potential employees through automated  psychometric tools. Manage, engage, and employ a leading workforce for your organization. Connect with Team PMaps on LinkedIn for the latest HR tech updates, or call, or email us for more information about  our products and services.  

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Performance Appraisals - Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about performance appraisal commonly asked questions:

How does PMaps contribute to reducing unconscious biases in recruitment?

PMaps offers skills assessment tools that provide objective data on candidates' abilities, minimizing the influence of unconscious biases in hiring decisions.

What is the significance of addressing unconscious bias in the hiring process?

Addressing unconscious bias ensures fairness and equity in hiring, leading to better diversity and inclusion outcomes within organizations.

How does PMaps' skills assessment help recruiters make more rational hiring decisions?

PMaps' skills assessment enables recruiters to focus on objective criteria, such as candidates' demonstrated abilities, rather than subjective factors influenced by unconscious biases.

Can PMaps' skills assessment tools identify specific forms of unconscious bias in the hiring process?

While PMaps' assessments primarily focus on evaluating candidates' skills and competencies, they indirectly contribute to mitigating various forms of unconscious bias by promoting data-driven decision-making in recruitment.

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