Eschew Interviewer Bias By Listening Actively

Interviewer Bias can get in the way of great hiring decisions. To get the most out of a talent pool, employers have to steer clear of interviewer bias. They have to actively ensure that bias does not seep into decisions. The easiest way to do this is to evaluate the reasons for rejecting (or hiring) a candidate and making sure that the reasons are rooted in facts. 

When an interviewer makes an assumption about a candidate’s skills or background, it can happen quite unconsciously. Even the person who accepts the misleading judgments may not realize that they have done so. This can jeopardize a great hire. Instead, notes and tabulated rubrics help the interview panel stay on course and act off a checklist.

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Strengthening a team is a cliché. It is a euphemism for all the hard work of curating a list of candidates. This itself takes going through lists of referrals, looking at internal applicant options, vetting job posts for various forums and portals, and painstakingly assessing each candidate. There is a need for a system to be in place. Professional interviewers have a clear idea of the big picture and can sift through various stages with great efficiency. Also, this is a skill that gets better with time. The best professionals in the selection process are the ones who can take interviewer bias out whether they are the ones conducting the interviews or merely the one observing them from afar. The latter scenario is just as tough to navigate.

It is only natural for humans in the selection process to let natural bias cloud what they see and hear. Something as simple as an anecdote or humor shared by a candidate can cause positive interviewer bias in the mind of the recruiter. In truth, candidates count on this unconscious bias where an interviewer judges a candidate even before any formal interview questions or tests begin. They open with a joke to cut the tension and take a positive momentum forward. While this cannot count towards the assessment of the candidate’s performance, it gives a professional interviewer an insight into the candidate’s personality.

Common interview biases are as follows:

Positive interviewer bias: It is only natural to think of someone who has graduated from the same institution, been in the same clubs or forums, or has some other similarity in their background would be right for the job. In truth, it is not an accurate assessment of the skills needed for the job. At most, it can be a positive edge. This positive comparison can extend to someone the interviewer respects or views positively, if not themselves. 

Negative interviewer bias: Misleading judgments are possible when interviewing a diverse group of candidates. Applicants who look different, offer off-beat non-verbal cues, or use phrases and body language that are quite different from what one would expect can invoke a negative bias. Signs such as confidence in behavior or the lack of it don’t spell high potential for performance at the job.

Contrast bias: This results from seeing a string of candidates, or even one, who does not measure up. The next candidate automatically appears better. This is why the personal impression of the interviewer should ideally be compared across various stages, with inputs taken from various interviewers.

Finally, impressions from an interview should only be a component of the hiring decision, in addition to the results from written tests, demonstrations, or mock tests.

Reference: 11 Ways to Avoid Interviewer Bias in Your Selection Process | Digital HR Tech | Neelie Verlinden | October 2020

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