Ways to avoid Interviewer bias in your selection process

Ways to avoid Interviewer bias in your selection process
Last Updated: July 3, 2022

What exactly does \"interviewer bias\" mean?

Interview bias can be defined as the human error of allowing the interviewers predetermined beliefs and expectations to interfere with their ability to remain objective during the interview. Its possible that the interference will have a positive or negative effect. In essence, the interviewer does not just concentrate on a candidates qualifications and skills, but also on an unconscious criterion that may even be unrelated to the position they are trying to fill.

Various examples of bias in interviewers


Affinity prejudice

An example of an interviewers bias is known as the affinity bias. It is predicated on the unconscious inclinations that people have for other people who share similar features or characteristics with themselves. The term for this type of bias is \"like me bias.\" Because of this, one might say that an interviewer has affinity bias when they are drawn to a candidate owing to the similarities that they share with the candidate. For instance, a person conducting an interview can have a predisposed bias toward a candidate simply because they are from the same hometown. Supporting the same professional soccer team is a potential additional factor contributing to affinity bias. Affinity bias, on the other hand, means that an interviewer is less likely to have a favorable idea of a candidate if they are wholly different from each other. This is because interviewers tend to favor people who are similar to themselves.


The bias of confirmation

The phenomenon known as confirmation bias takes place when an interviewer asks questions with the intention of confirming the interviewers own prior notions about the candidate. Its also possible for this to occur when the candidate chooses material that validates their preexisting biases. The mere presence of dreadlocks on an applicants head, for instance, is enough evidence for an interviewer to conclude that the candidate has used narcotics that are unlawful. Following this line of thought, the interviewer may then proceed to ask the candidate what they enjoy doing in their leisure time, in an effort to elicit a response in which they mention going out to parties. In certain circumstances, the interviewer may inquire openly about the applicants past drug use by asking whether or not they have ever used any illegal narcotic substances. Because of this, the interview becomes focused on the prejudices that have been formed about the candidate rather than investigating the prospects suitability for the post.


Anchor prejudice

An example of anchor bias is when an interviewer focuses too much on one component of a candidates profile, which causes that aspect to eclipse other aspects of the interviewing process. As soon as a perception has been created as a result of the piece of information, this then contributes to the development of either a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the person who was interviewed. For instance, the interviewer might learn from the candidates curriculum vitae that they attended a well-regarded educational establishment. Following this, the interviewer may then have extremely high expectations of the candidate, to the point where any negative indicators are either overlooked or not realized by the interviewer. In a similar vein, a candidate who appears to be poor on paper may perform exceptionally well in an interview; but, due to the interviewers preconceived notions, the candidate may still receive a very low score. As a consequence of this, a deceitful appraisal of the real interview procedure is produced as a result of the information that is withheld.



Another typical form of prejudice is the use of generalizations or stereotypes. It refers to situations in which an interviewer forms an opinion about a candidate based on stereotypes or generalizations about the social group to which the candidate belongs. This thus casts a shadow on the genuine talents and competencies that the candidate possesses. For instance, one of the preconceptions that has persisted for a very long time is the notion that women are better suited for the role of caregiver at home as opposed to working outside the home. If the person conducting the interview has such a belief, then it is highly likely that they have already decided to hire a male candidate before they have even begun the interview process. The interviewer would have already determined that the female candidates attending that interview do not meet the requirements for the position, regardless of the qualifications and experience they bring with them. The issue of race is yet another one. Its possible that the person conducting the interview believes that people of a certain race have a higher level of intelligence than those of other races. Because of this, it is possible that people will be lured towards the race that they prefer, regardless of the qualifications held by the contenders.


The appearance of a halo or horn

The halo or horn effect is the term used to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a single quality of a candidate gives rise to an overly-weighted favorable or negative impression. If an applicant gives an impressive presentation as part of the interview process, for instance, the interviewer might incorrectly believe that this individual is good at everything else. This phenomenon is referred to as the halo effect. The horn effect, on the other hand, is when a negative aspect of a person, such as making grammatical errors in their cover letter, results in the interviewer incorrectly assuming that they would make mistakes in every aspect of their job, even if being good at grammar is irrelevant to the role. This can happen even if the person is applying for a job in which being good at grammar is irrelevant to the role.


Generalisation bias

This happens when the person conducting the interview makes the automatic assumption that the mannerisms demonstrated by a candidate in an interview are part of the candidates everyday behavior. Here is where initial impressions have the potential to leave a long-lasting impression. Interviewers frequently lean toward candidates who are confident and outgoing during an interview, regardless of whether or not good interpersonal skills are essential to the role. As an illustration, candidates who are nervous during an interview may be generalized as having an overall nervous disposition.


Methods to prevent interviewers from becoming biased in selection processes

Practice conducting interviews.

It is possible to mitigate the impact of latent intolerances and prejudices by providing interviewers with equality and diversity training.This training should include instruction on how to recognize and prevent the interviewers own unconscious biases. Training should include things like: • recognizing ways in which stereotypical assumptions about applicants can be made; • avoiding irrelevant interview questions that relate to protected characteristics, such as questions about childcare arrangements or plans to get married or have children; • maintaining an impartial and open mind, not allowing first impressions on things like looks or body language to affect the evaluation of a candidate; and • maintaining an open mind, not allowing first impressions on things like looks or body language to affect the evaluation of a candidate.Training should include

• recognizing and avoiding cultural noise, such as when a candidate tries to impress the interviewer rather than providing an honest response; this is an example of cultural noise.


Using an interview guide

This is a guidance document for all personnel within an organization who are responsible for conducting interviews in order to ensure that interviews are conducted in a manner that is consistent and compliant. It gives a structure for the method in which interviews should be performed and should enable the interviewer to know what to ask and in what order. Additionally, it should ensure that all applicants have the same experience while they are in the candidate role. The substance of the guide will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the function that the company is looking to fill, the kind of interviewing that is being utilized, and any particular organizational constraints that are present. On the other hand, standardized questions presented in a systematic fashion will help to ensure that everyone receives the same evaluation.


Utilizing a scoring matrix as a tool

An interviewer can ensure that all applicants are evaluated objectively and solely on the basis of their capacity to perform the duties of the job in a satisfactory manner by conducting interviews in accordance with the application form, job description, and person specification, as well as the agreed-upon weight given to each criterion. This will help to ensure that every recruiting decision is based on reason and evidence, as opposed to opinion and the possibility of biased discrimination.


Keeping documents in written form

This will offer textual justification for any decision that was made, as well as the method by which the decision was arrived at, if clear records are kept outlining the criteria that were examined and the reason for any hiring decisions that were made. If the employer does not preserve a written record of the recruitment process, then the employer will have a reduced ability to respond effectively to any accusations of discrimination that may be lodged. The absence of any documents may even cause a tribunal to draw an unfavorable inference against the employer, suggesting that the employer engaged in unlawful behavior.


This article was written by Tinotenda Shannon Denhere, a consultant at the Industrial Psychology Consultants. She can be contacted at  shannon@ipcconsultant.con


Tinotenda Shannon Denhere
This article was written by Tinotenda Shannon a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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