Affinity bias is an unconscious bias commonly referred to as the “similar to me effect.” When affinity bias occurs, an interviewer feels a natural sympathy or liking for a candidate because they share things in common with them. Affinity bias can lead to applicants having an unearned advantage in the hiring process. Once hired, affinity bias can lead to favoritism in the workplace.
If a company hires based on “cultural fit,” it may succumb to affinity bias. If hiring teams feel a connection with an applicant, it’s usually because they share life or work experiences, beliefs, interests, or backgrounds. Ultimately, similarities can affect the hiring process, but if differences disqualify a candidate, affinity bias may occur.
In addition to the hiring process, affinity bias also frequently occurs in workplace interactions and promotion decisions.
During the interviewing and hiring process, a hiring manager may assume a candidate is the best choice for a position because they went to the same university. In another scenario, the interviewer and the candidate may share the same religious beliefs. Affinity bias can also occur unconsciously based on a person’s gender, race, or appearance. To avoid infinity bias, it is essential to have in place a skills-based and structured interview process.
refers to the inclination of people to be biased toward people who share things in common with them.