Types of Bias in the Hiring Process—and Why They’re Bad for Business

Hiring bias can be either conscious or unconscious, but either way, it’s bad for business. Bias leads to recruiters passing over high-potential candidates for lesser hires simply because of their own partiality. This introduces a slew of negative consequences that we’ll explore in this article.

What is Interviewer Bias?

Interviewer bias is when different, unfair standards are applied when evaluating people to hire or promote within a company or organization. Sometimes interviewers actively voice a preference for certain types of individuals over others, but more often bias creeps into the recruitment process unexpectedly and subconsciously.

When left unchecked, hiring biases shape and limit not only the workforce, but also the entire company culture. This can be difficult to overcome, but progressive technology like VidCruiter is helping pave the way to better, more objective hiring decisions.

What Types of Hiring Bias Exist?

Gender Bias

Gender bias is a preference or prejudice toward one gender over another. Examples of gender stereotyping in recruitment include hiring men instead of women for positions involving math and science because the interviewer believes men will be better at it, or hiring women for more nurturing roles like nursing and teaching when men are well-suited for these professions, too.

Race and Ethnicity Biases

Despite efforts to reduce racism in our society, it unfortunately still exists. Some interviewers still judge people by the color of their skin or cultural factors such as nationality, ancestry and language. This isn’t only frowned upon; it’s illegal.

Name Bias

In the same line of thinking as race and ethnicity biases, judging candidates by their name alone also happens. The fact is Muhammad and Noor don’t get the same number of callbacks in North America than Sarah and Chris.

Age Discrimination

Age (or generational) bias in the hiring process involves making unfair assumptions about someone based on their actual or assumed age. This bias is especially common in the technology industry where interviewers tend to believe that older people can’t possibly be as tech-savvy as younger people.

Religion Bias

Religious discrimination involves treating applicants unfavorably because of their religious beliefs. Religion should never factor into hiring decisions. Make an effort to separate church and cubicle.

Sexual Orientation Bias

It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, asexual or identify with another sexual orientation; that has no bearing on how well you can perform the job at hand. And yet still, sometimes interviewers judge people on an actual or assumed sexual orientation.

Commonality Bias

Interviewers often gravitate toward hiring people they have something in common with. Perhaps they lived in the same city, went to the same school, or know the same people. Part of this is human nature; people want to belong, so they tend to hire candidates who are like them. This limits diversity in the workplace.

Beauty Bias

Beauty (or handsome) bias comes into play when interviewers subconsciously believe how a person looks affects how they will perform in the job. Conventionally attractive people tend to get hired and promoted more easily than unattractive people, despite not necessarily being the best candidates for the position.

Halo Effect

The halo effect comes into play when an interviewer becomes biased by certain positive things about a candidate that have no bearing on their ability to do a job well. Because of this, the interviewer will disregard red flags and focus too much on a particular aspect of an applicant, such as where they went to university or an old award they once-upon-a-time won.

Horn Effect

The horn effect is the opposite of the halo effect. It comes into play when interviewers cannot move past something negative (but unrelated to the job) about an applicant. Maybe the candidate has visible tattoos or piercings, or perhaps they have the same name as an ex romantic partner, leading to the wrongful decision not to hire them.

The Dangers of Trusting Your Gut

Hiring managers and recruiters frequently (and mistakenly) rely on their intuition to make hiring and promotion decisions. The trouble is intuition often equates to unconscious bias.

Recruiters and hiring teams need to remove ego entirely from the recruitment and interviewing processes. Often times, the recruiter or hiring manager is over-confident in their ability to pick a good candidate, so confirmation bias creeps in. They try to elicit answers that support their assumptions about candidates, jeopardizing the chances of finding the right person for the job.

Why Is Bias Bad for Business?

When bias enters into hiring decisions, it can cost businesses time, money—and their reputations.

Legal Consequences

Perhaps the most obvious—and the potentially the most damaging to your company—are the legal consequences of biased hiring practices. Biases interviews leave your business wide open to an expensive lawsuit.

Negative Brand Reputation

Biased hiring decisions can damage your brand’s reputation. If your company hires someone who is unfit for the position because of interviewer bias, the general public may see the brand in an undesirable light. The wrong hire may be rude or indifferent to customers, who then tell their friends, creating a negative feedback loop.

Discourage Top Talent from Applying

If your company has developed a reputation of biased hiring, this can discourage top talent from applying for future positions. Good employees are tough to come by and your company is doing nothing to help promote itself and attract well-qualified people if it doesn’t make proactive efforts to minimize bias.

High Turnover

Bias often leads to hiring the wrong people, increasing turnover rates. Whether the employee chooses to leave on their own or HR needs to fire them, losing staff wastes valuable time and money that would be better spent growing the right employees.

Reduced Sales

Above all, hiring the wrong person for a job can negatively impact sales, reducing the company’s bottom line. If profit is why your company is in business, you need to take a serious look at bias in your recruitment process.

Overcome Hiring Bias with VidCruiter

VidCruiter can help you overcome bias in the hiring process, improving and diversifying the quality of your hires. Our sophisticated structured interview methodology enables companies to establish and implement a fair, uniform way of video interviewing or conducting a in-person interview, scoring and comparing job applicants so you can make informed, unbiased hiring decisions.

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Jessica Newman
Jessica Newman is a skilled wordsmith, an innovative marketer and a passionate entrepreneur. She’s the Chief Content Creator at The Word Wiz and staff writer at VidCruiter.