Common Job Interview Biases

Interviewers, like any other people, have a tendency to be biased. These interviewer biases may cause the interviewer to make a decision not based on an objective evaluation of the candidate’s suitability for the job. But by being aware of such biasedness, we can then take steps to overcome them. Here’s the list of different types of interviewer bias:

Affective heuristic: Humans by nature are not perfectly rational creatures. And our decisions are often influenced by how we feel. Even in an interview. Therefore, we should be aware of it and not rely on our personal experience and emotions to guide our hiring decisions.

Anchoring bias: We sometimes rely too heavily on a single piece of information in evaluating the candidate. The piece of information is also known as the anchor. And we use the anchor as the basis of comparison which may cause us to be unable to understand and evaluate the candidate thoroughly.

Contrast effect: This happens mostly when we interview several candidates consecutively. We tend to compare the candidate to the previous candidate causing us to perceive the candidate better or worse than what he or she should be.

Confirmation bias: As we formed perceptions about the candidate, we tend to seek out information to confirm our perceptions. This actually narrows our outlook on the candidate’s competencies.

Cultural noise bias: Sometimes our evaluation may be skewed towards candidates who try to impress us by answering what they think we want to hear. But it may not be a true reflection of themselves. And we might make a hiring decision not entirely based on facts.

First impressions: First impression really counts. Because we form an impression of the candidate within the first few seconds or minutes of encountering the candidate. And different impression may affect how we conduct the interview for different candidates.

Halo/ Horn effect: The “halo”/ “horn” effect is when a single factor of the candidate is enlarged and overshadow other important areas of evaluation. Everything else seems positive or negative due to that one single factor of the candidate.

Interviewer bias: Studies have revealed our preference for candidates that are similar to us. So we tend to give better evaluation for candidates who have a similar background, experience or other similar attributes.

Intuition: It is also known as “gut feeling”. As prepared as we are, we may still miss evaluating some aspect of the candidate. And when that happens, we sometimes rely on our intuition. The only problem is that it is not reliable.

Nonverbal bias: We may over-evaluate the nonverbal cues of the candidate forming overly positive or negative impression about the candidate. These nonverbal cues may sometimes be irrelevant to the performance of the job.

Recency bias: Our memory fades over time and we may not remember the details of the earlier candidates. This may result in an advantage for the more recent candidates leading to a biased hiring decision.

Stereotyping: We tend to think that people think and act similarly based on their age, gender, religion and other characteristics. So before any evidence, we already form perceptions of how the individual would perform the job.