Are Recruitment Biases Hurting Your Bottom Line?

4 Types of Recruitment Biases to Avoid


Have you ever relied on a gut instinct when hiring a new employee? Does an innocent comment ever sway your hiring decision? Would you ever let the sound of someone’s laugh factor into your decision process?  If you’re a hiring manager or recruiter, you probably answered no to these questions. However, recruitment biases are more common than many realize. Explore these four common types of hiring biases and see if you recognize any in your own hiring strategy. If it’s time to improve how your company’s employees are chosen, browse our tips to prevent recruitment biases throughout the hiring process.


1. Effective Heuristic Bias

A heuristic is a mental shortcut used to quickly make decisions. Heuristics are often unknowingly developed through life experiences. While they’re more often helpful than harmful, they can lead to bias.


In an interview, heuristics can lead us to make quick judgements on traits unrelated to a candidate’s qualifications, such as the tone of their voice or hairstyle. Effective heuristic bias is more commonly referred to as stereotyping and is the most common recruitment bias by far.


2. Similarity Bias

Studies show that we tend to gravitate towards people we can relate to. While this is helpful when seeking out relationships and companionship, it can be dangerous in a professional setting.


If you find yourself leaning towards candidates who remind you of a younger version of yourself or who have similar tastes in fashion, music, or hobbies as you do, similarity bias could be in play. This bias makes it easier to overlook red flags that would otherwise eliminate a job candidate.


3. Halo and Horn Bias

Are you giving too much weight to an innocent comment or action in an interview? Such incidents are called halos (if positive) or horns (if negative).


For example, a candidate showing up to their interview drinking a coffee from your favorite shop could unknowingly sway you. This halo leads you to feel a positive connection to the candidate, even if their resume doesn’t line up with what you’re looking for.


The opposite can happen as well. If a candidate comes to an interview late because their child’s teacher needed to speak with them, you could begin to dismiss the applicant as they complain about the school district that, unbeknownst to them, your spouse works for.


4. Intuition Bias

How confident are you in your hiring process? If you’ve been responsible for growing your company’s team for years, you may think it only takes you a few seconds to determine if a candidate is right for the job.


While you certainly have skills that validate your services, relying solely on your gut feeling or intuition is most likely leading to bias. Not only is this unfair to candidates but you could be hurting your company as well. The average bad hire can cost a business nearly $15,000.


How to Avoid Recruitment Biases

If you believe bias is creeping in on your interview process, use the following tips to remain impartial and professional.


  • Use technology – Applicant Tracking Systems can help you sort, scan, and rank job applicants solely based on qualifications. Allowing such a system to initially weed through candidates gives you a greater chance of hiring the right applicant.
  • Set diversity goals – Would an outsider looking in describe your current team as diverse? If the likely answer is no, set a goal to have a more diverse team within a time frame that makes the most sense with your hiring volume and schedule.
  • Assign more than one interviewer – When multiple people interview the same candidate, any unintentional biases are more likely to surface.
  • Standardize the interview process – Spend some time creating a structured interview process. Every qualified candidate deserves the same opportunities during the interview process and having a protocol to follow can help prevent bias from creeping in.


Bias: It can happen to anyone, even with the best of intentions. But to guarantee you’re hiring the best candidates and to prevent litigation issues, avoiding recruitment biases is vital. Focus on acknowledging bias when necessary and taking the proper steps to eliminate it from your hiring process for good.


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