Bias in recruitment forms prejudice and discriminatory hiring decisions against one person or a group of people. Candidates suffer in the hiring process and miss out on job opportunities due to bias motives. Unconscious bias happens outside of conscious awareness, recruiters may make hiring decisions stemmed from subconscious emotion, perception and stereotypes.
Selection bias is the bias introduced by the selection of individuals, groups, or data for analysis in such a way that proper randomization is not achieved, thereby failing to ensure that the sample obtained is representative of the population intended to be analyzed. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect. The phrase “selection bias” most often refers to the distortion of a statistical analysis, resulting from the method of collecting samples. If the selection bias is not taken into account, then some conclusions of the study may be false.
Leading with intuition
The sole reason to hire should not be led by human intuition. A ‘feeling’ or a ‘gut instinct’ is not strong enough as a reason to hire. They are subjective and difficult to justify. Whilst also lacking validity.
Every recruiter’s intuition is different, which makes it difficult to standardise for a consistent screening process. During this stage, bias can occur because human emotion takes over. Causing the reason to hire to shift focus away from skillset, experience and true job potential.
Everyone is quick to pass judgement, we are all guilty of it, recruiters just as much. We make snap decisions based on perceived truths and then spend the rest of the time, subconsciously or not, trying to justify our bias. This is when we ask irrelevant questions, trying to elicit answers that support our initial assumption about the candidate.
Hiring someone similar to yourself
The case of hiring a ‘mini-me’. This means a recruiter will favour those who are similar to themselves to fill a position. Recruiters can become prone to this type of unconscious bias during early hiring stages where a candidate’s job application reflects similar characteristic to themselves. For example, if the school in which they attended or where they live is the same as the candidate, recruiters may feel an instant pull towards that application because they share similar traits. Which will consequently lead to the presumption that they will make a good hire. This can also later occur further down the hiring process during the interview stage.
This is when the recruiter mentally takes shortcuts to reach a conclusion about a candidate’s ability to do the job, without carefully examining all of the evidence first.
Quite simply you are judging someone’s suitability for a position based on superficial factors that have no say in how they would carry out the task at hand.
Comparing job applications against one another
During the job application screening process, there becomes a tendency to compare CVs/resumes against one another. Adopting one high-performance job application as the ‘standard’, to which all others must compete with. However, in doing so, the risk of bias increases. One recruiter’s vision of the perfect CV will differ between individuals within the hiring team.
This hiring bias is similar to the expectation anchor bias as it occurs when the recruiter forgoes proper investigation of a candidate’s background, choosing instead to focus too heavily on one positive aspect of a candidate, like where they went to school, or what sports they do, and rely on that one thing when making decisions.
Similarity attraction bias
It is human nature to want to surround ourselves with people we like and feel we have a rapport with. And the work environment is no different. If you’re going to be spending a third of your day working alongside someone, you want to know that you will get on with them.
The overconfidence bias occurs when the recruiter is so confident in their own abilities to either pick a good candidate or to eliminate the supposed bad ones, that they allow confirmation bias to creep in, to justify their decisions. The recruiter allows their subjective confidence to cloud their objectiveness, and they tend to rely on so-called intuition but we’ll get to that bias later.