4 Common Interview Biases

Whether you work in HR or not, almost all managers become interviewers at some point in their careers. While we all like to believe that we’re good at being objective in selecting candidates during the interview, most of us actually form unconscious biases upon meeting potential candidates during interviews. Biases are predetermined impressions and beliefs that we assign to candidates unconsciously which can ultimately alter our hiring decisions. So what are the most common interview biases that we should avoid?

First Impression Bias

We often hear that first impressions are lasting. This is true as most interviewers use it as a differentiating factor when selecting candidates. During the interview, judgments are being made on both your appearance and behavior. From the way candidates shake hands and the way they are dressed to the way they talk and behave. You would be surprised how often recruiters rely on first impressions as opposed to the facts of the interview. Since candidates try to show the best versions of themselves during the interview, first impressions become unreliable when it comes to selecting the best hires.

The Horns and Halo Effects

The Horns Effect happens when we form a quick negative judgment about the person based on one characteristic that we don’t like. As a result, we start to see their other behaviors, personality and answers in a negative light. The problem with Horns Effect is that it has nothing to do with the actual ability of the person to do the job. Halo Effect happens when you identify one good positive fact about the candidate during the interview, overshadowing everything else that they say or do while being lenient when evaluating their responses. This can result in hiring people that you perceive to be exactly like you.

Negative Emphasis

Research has actually revealed that interviewers give negative information twice the weight of favorable information. Negative emphasis bias happens when you reject a candidate based on a small piece of negative information that a candidate chose to reveal about themselves during the interview. Negative emphasis can also be the result of other factors such as nonverbal communication, dress code or even silence.

Cultural Noise

Promoting diversity in the workplace is a very common practice in today’s business world; however, recruiters are facing difficulties in the interview room in how to recruit their international staff due to a bias called “Cultural Noise”. Cultural Noise refers to the barriers of successful communication between people of different cultures including differences in language, values, non‐verbal cues, manners, gender, time and many others. For example, maintaining eye contact is considered a sign of confidence in Europe. However, if a Chinese candidate is being interviewed and maintains no eye contact, does this mean that he/she must be disqualified? The answer should be “No” because in China it is considered rude to maintain strong eye contact.

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