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The Impact of Hidden Biases on Diversity and Hiring Initiatives

By Arooj Shakeel
July 29, 2023

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Everyone, consciously or unknowingly, has inherent prejudices; possibly, you do not even realize it. Businesses frequently take pleasure in their efforts to promote diversity in the workplace, but the hidden risk of hiring prejudice implies restricting your applicant alternatives. In addition to the most prevalent prejudice currently being addressed, such as gender bias in hiring, the workplace is replete with unconscious bias, which is difficult to eradicate since you aren’t aware of it. It is harmful to recruiters, employers, and both existing and potential employees. Unconscious prejudice can negatively impact workplace retention rates, promotions, and diversity initiatives. For an unknown component, bias has several adverse side effects. 


Are You Vulnerable to These Typical Biases?

What precisely are these prejudices that might influence your hiring choices? Fortunately, you can take action to correct your hidden biases with information and training once you become aware of them. In other words, you will not constantly be impacted by them, or if you are, it won’t be as much. 

The most typical ones are mentioned below:

Confirmation bias tends to focus solely on information that supports your opinions and disregards all other information. This often implies that you base your opinion—positive or negative—on only one item (such as one from a résumé), accept that as accurate, and dismiss any evidence to the contrary. Additionally, it implies that you rely too much on your first impression and do not go deeper or look beyond the obvious. You will disregard any subsequent lousy information about a prospect if you first notice their professional appearance, résumé, or both.

Affinity bias warms up to and speaks well about a candidate during an interview because you relate to them because of a shared quality or personality. There was no underlying reason for this warmth; it was only a sensation that may be hurtful to other contenders.

Similarity bias, also known as ingroup bias, is the tendency to favor candidates who are similar to you (same group interests or hobbies, etc.). 

Although this is a terrific method to establish friends, unless they apply for your job, it is not a good hiring strategy. Keep in mind that most occupations require various abilities and that you also desire diversity in the workplace.

Projection bias assumes that people will share your objectives, worldview, etc. and that they will thus be a good fit for the position you are recruiting for. But believing this merely causes confusion and disappointment since others have objectives and ambitions that have nothing to do with you and yours.

The halo effect is when you assume someone will succeed in B, C, and D because they are successful in A. But rather than judging a candidate just on one characteristic, you need to evaluate if they possess the necessary abilities.

The pitchfork effect is the reverse of the halo effect. You see or hear anything unpleasant about a candidate and automatically think all their other characteristics are harmful. 

For instance, if an applicant performs poorly on the first few questions of an interview, you could believe that they won’t perform well on the rest and are unqualified for the position.

The status quo bias is to like the status quo and desire things to continue as they are. This implies that you continue to pay attention to the experts in the industry while neglecting new talent. This situation has two sides: a) If you are solely searching for prior experience in a candidate, you may lose out on someone who is just entering the industry but who is ideal. 

In contrast, if you are trying to replace a job that someone you loved previously held, you can try to find a candidate that is a replica of them in the following hiring, which will add internal blinders to your search for the best candidate.

In the case of Nonverbal bias/Effective Heuristic, you evaluate a candidate’s suitability for the position based on an outward characteristic, such as body weight or tattoos. A one-dimensional trait, however, does not automatically exclude a thorough investigation to determine if they are eligible. (Be careful because it’s also illegal.) 

For instance, if you believe CEOs should be tall, you may reject anyone under that presumptive threshold.

In Expectation Anchor, even while doing interviews, if you are sure that an earlier applicant was the most excellent fit for the position, you don’t consider any later applicants.

The contrast effect occurs when you review several applications or interviews in a sequence, comparing each candidate’s qualifications to those of the prior applicants. It would help if you only evaluated them based on the job description.

In Conformity bias, if you have a different perspective from the majority of people in a group, you are more likely to alter your mind and concur with them. 

The belief that the “majority rules,” or the “Mob mentality,” occurs when a group of people comes together, and one idea gains traction despite not being supported by all of them.

Hiring becomes much more challenging since there are many prejudices you need to be aware of. When you trust your gut instincts and take things at face value, you may not even be aware that you could pass up on the most excellent options.


Guidelines for Combating Unconscious Hiring Bias

Modify job descriptions

Specific terms draw particular candidates. Therefore, it is crucial to use the appropriate language while developing job descriptions. Before the interview, candidates’ perceptions of the company’s brand and the recruiting process may be affected by job descriptions, which serve as a critical filter. When creating your job descriptions, make them uniform, role-specific, and supportive of diversity.


Utilize a job marketplace

Businesses may pick from a wide range of individuals on hiring marketplaces, each with a unique skill set and background. 

Anyone is encouraged to apply in an open market, which also helps to eliminate inherent bias. This methodology focuses on discovering talent that performs and generates outcomes at the most significant level rather than examining a worker’s past. The top applicants with the right skills and motivations are objectively matched to the appropriate positions by applying clever algorithms and evaluations found in contemporary hiring marketplaces created using the most recent technologies.


Enhance interviewing procedures

It is crucial to follow a set procedure while conducting interviews so that everyone provides the same standardized responses. This makes it simpler to compare applicant skills without being swayed by surface-level characteristics. Asking behavioral questions to evaluate how candidates have responded in the past helps you judge how they could react in hypothetical future scenarios.

Additionally, whether doing a panel interview or using a transcript, make an effort to have several eyes see the discussion. Even better, try conducting live, taped, or phone or video interviews so that more people may hear the applicant and provide their opinions.


Investigate Virtual Solutions to Reduce Hiring Bias

People’s prejudices cannot be stifled, just as we cannot take away their feelings. However, companies may significantly reduce recruiting prejudices using appropriate digital workforce solutions. No matter where they are from or who they are, Techzir Solutions wants to assist organizations in identifying and eliminating any recruiting biases so that great people may be hired and integrated into the company. 

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