June 15, 2021
Hiring 18 July 2020
What Creates Recruiting & Hiring Biases?
Hannah Son
hiring manager, hiring bias, recruiting, recruiting bias, bias

Understanding diversity as a business necessity stems from the realization that diversity breeds innovation and innovation breeds business success. According to 2017's NACE panel

"If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude."

Thus, smart organizations need to actively consider how to promote diversity within their existing workforces and through their hiring processes. Even for Google, the most innovative company in the world, diversity is a big challenge

70% of people who work at Google are men and there is a severe underrepresentation of African American and Hispanics in their workforce.

When a company supports diversity and inclusion, they are actively fighting against discrimination and prejudices. Lack of diversity is a problem that roots itself in hiring/recruiting biases and the effects are directly felt by both companies and universities. Hiring from diverse talent pools assures that companies are hiring candidates qualified and best suited for their roles allowing for company growth. Unbiased hiring should be at the forefront of your business. You not only need candidates with the skills necessary to do the job, but you also need people that are motivated, passionate, and ready to contribute to your company's culture. Bias, whether intentional or unconscious, can cause hiring managers to overlook the most qualified and best-suited candidates for the job. If companies don’t hire candidates from diverse backgrounds, they are less likely to adapt and innovate.

A bias is a snap decision, one which happens before you’re even aware a decision has been made. So what creates these biases? Here are 3 examples of what is creating biases in the recruiting/hiring processes:

1. We Gravitate Towards Those Who Are Like Us

According to the similarity-attraction hypothesis, we tend to like people who are similar to us — whether that means they are the same nationality, come from the same state, or sport the same haircut. A simplified way to explain this phenomenon is that people with a decent level of self-esteem are satisfied with their personalities. So when they see their qualities reflected in someone else, they tend to like that person, too. Humans have evolved to like people who look and act the way they do, this is because, at one point in time, it was essential to trust only those in your small social group. 

Many hiring managers and recruiters fall prey to their own subconscious biases about factors such as physical attractiveness, height, weight, and charisma. Employers and recruiters use their gut reactions to hire people like themselves without even realizing that there's bias in their processes.

2. We Fall for Stereotypes and Discrimination

Discriminating candidates based on cultural differences can be done both at the conscious and unconscious level. This is especially true in the recruiting and hiring processes where our society tends to favor those that are more extroverted, those who are younger, and those who are perceived to be more competent based on their race

You may not be aware of it, but even job postings can be biased. For example, your job post may read: “looking for a young, imaginative analyst”. Without realizing, you've just performed age discrimination. It’s the difference between using “police officer” instead of “policeman” in order to avoid discriminating against women who want to apply for the job. 

While it's possible to unlearn ethnic biases, stereotypes about gender tend to have deeper roots and are harder to reverse. One study even found that people were more likely to hire a male candidate over a female candidate to perform a mathematical task, even when they learned that the candidates would perform equally well.

3. We Are Only Scratching the Surface

When selecting a new candidate, some tend to focus solely on those who are experienced and in need of little development and training. Although this is not necessarily bad in all contexts, this recruitment bias can cause you to overlook candidates that are naturally built for a job, but who don’t presently have much experience. 

Part of recruiting means digging deeper and investigating, however, when we’re in a hurry to fill a position, we may only see what we WANT to see in order to make a quick decision. If a candidate has a decent resume, is well-dressed and has presented himself favorably in an interview, some may refrain from investigating any further. Relying solely on first impressions of appearance and a single resume is another source of hiring/recruitment bias.

And with countless studies and data that has shown just how much looks can influence a hiring decision, we must use tools such as succession planning platforms that can help recruiters and hiring managers to look beyond the surface.

If you are looking for real-life examples of these hiring biases, here is a blog post that explains 5 common biases (and how to minimize them).

Ways to Mitigate Bias

So, yes, it is in our unconscious second nature to prefer people that share similarities and reject people with characteristics that we are unfamiliar with. With this knowledge, the first thing we should all do is to start familiarizing ourselves with a diversity of experiences, cultures, and people. 

Overcoming bias when hiring is not an easy process, but it is necessary in order for your company to reach its fullest potential. Being able to hire candidates from diverse cultures, life experiences and backgrounds can open the door to new and innovative ideas. Diverse companies are better able to adapt to changes in the industry and even expand to new markets.

The increased focus on diversity in the workplace increases the sense of belonging because it combats against typical stereotypes and bias. At ProSky, we are very supportive of mitigating bias during the hiring process using techniques like performance-based hiring. 

Employees shouldn't be hired or not hired based on factors beyond their control ( age, gender, ethnicity, cultures, etc.) but should be hired for their abilities. This lets your employees know that they are valued, contribute to the company's bottom line, and they have the skills it takes to be successful in their role. They know they were hired because of what they can do for the company, not because they fit an "image" or conform to "expectations".  Hiring managers, recruiters, and companies must re-evaluate their programs and remove hidden biases. Recruiting candidates based on demonstrated skills and expertise instead of traditional accreditation and resume-based skill assertion can improve the overall quality of a diverse employee base. VidCruiter recommends structured digital interviews to reduce hiring bias saying,

Structured digital interviews are far more reliable than their unstructured counterparts. When administered correctly, they have a predictive validity of 62 percent, which is twice as high as the predictive validity of bias-riddled, instinct-based interviews. 

This helps organizations’ adopt hiring best practices to mitigate personal biases and double your odds of hiring the right person for the job.

Some other simple ideas to decreases bias:

  • Standardized interviews
  • Panel of interviewers 
  • Performance-Based Hiring
  • Skills tests for Candidates 
  • Project & Challenge Evaluations
  • Company Diversity Goals
  • Bias Training for Hiring Managers
  • Blind Resume Review
  • Hiding Demographic Info

To hear more about ProSky’s interviewing solutions can increase your company’s potential to create a diverse unbiased work environment, request a free demo with one of our specialists: