How familiar are you with the prejudices that we act on daily? Our attitudes towards other people can by influenced by our feelings as well as rational thought processes. Unconscious biases are natural and unintentional, but we need to be aware of, and take steps to overcome them.

Diversity has a positive impact on an organisation, with many statistics that show the most diverse organisations are the most successful ones, but the presence of unconscious bias in the recruitment process can lead to a less diverse workforce.

Unconscious biases to look out for:

1 Beauty Bias – It is natural to make assumptions based solely on what we can see.

Whilst video interviewing has become the norm, a telephone interview could be a highly effective tool as part of your recruitment process to eliminate this bias.

2 Affinity Bias – unconsciously favouring someone who shares similar qualities to ourselves or someone we like. Familiar and relatable, it’s natural for us to want to be around people we relate to.

Whilst you want to recruit employees who share similar vision and goals for best cultural fit, just because someone has similarities to us, doesn’t mean they’re the best cultural fit (which you will need to test for in the interview process).

3 Confirmation Bias – It is a well-known fact that we form an opinion about a person within the first few seconds of meeting them. The problem is that unless conscious of this, you may focus on seeking evidence to support this opinion, instead of keeping a more open mind.
Using a pre-agreed set of interview questions, built around the specific skills and traits identified as being required to fulfil a role’s requirements are very useful to eliminate this potential bias. A telephone interview, and even anonymising candidates names can also reduce potential pre-judgements.

4 Attribution Bias – this affects how we assess other people’s actions. The standard perception is that when a person does something well, it’s because they’re lucky, but if they’ve done something badly, it’s due to their personality or bad behaviour.

Behavioural and situational questions to determine capabilities and suitability for the role are very useful tools to avoid this.

5 Conformity Bias – It is very natural to want to fit in. Views and opinions can be swayed by other people. In a panel interview situation, own perceptions can be affected by the other interviewers.

Video interviews can be a very effective tool as the panel won’t be present in the same room to share opinions and can record their assessments independently.

6 Halo Effect – this can occur when you focus on an individual’s particular achievement or feature, potentially overlooking attributes about that person that may make them a less ideal fit.

A panel interview, made up of a diverse range of individuals, should result in a more balanced assessment.

7 Horns effect – this can occur when you focus on a particular negative aspect about a person, such as a characteristic that you don’t like. You run the risk of overlooking attributes about that person that could make them an ideal fit.

Using telephone interviews, or standard, pre-agreed questions will help reduce this bias from influencing decision-making.

Ensuring that interviewers are trained on unconscious bias, and ensuring it is not allowed to factor in the interview process will help achieve effective recruitment processes and diversity in your organisation.

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