Are You Overlooking the Best Candidates? The Impact of Interviewer Bias on Talent Acquisition and How to Avoid It

Yansu Wang
21 Mar 2024

Gain insights into avoiding interviewer bias with Gilbert Meher's comprehensive guide to fair hiring. Discover how structured interview processes and equitable talent acquisition can transform your recruitment, leading to a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Ensure your hiring practices align with the best practices for recruitment equality.

Imagine this: you're sifting through a stack of CVs, looking for the perfect match. You're experienced, you know what you're looking for, and yet, sometimes, the ideal candidate slips through your fingers. How? It's a little thing called interviewer bias, and it's sneakier than you might think.

What Is Interviewer Bias?

Simply put, interviewer bias occurs when preconceived notions, whether positive or negative, cloud our judgement of a candidate's suitability for a role. These biases can sneak in from our personal feelings, experiences, or unconscious stereotypes, influencing the decisions about candidates, rather than their actual qualifications or performance.

Typical Examples of Interviewer Bias:

  • The Halo & Horns Effect: Imagine a candidate walking into the interview room, and immediately, something clicks because they remind you of yourself, or perhaps their CV boasts a degree from a prestigious university, overshadowing all else. It's human nature to lean towards what feels impressive at first glance, but herein lies the pitfall - the Halo effect. Conversely, the Horns effect occurs when a single negative trait affects our overall perception negatively.
  • Affinity Bias: Finding out you and a candidate share a hometown or hobby, and suddenly, they seem like a better fit? That's affinity bias, where familiarity clouds our judgement.
  • Confirmation Bias: Ever found yourself looking for reasons to justify your initial impression of a candidate? That's confirmation bias, where we seek out information that confirms our preconceptions.
  • Culture Fit Bias: The tricky one where 'not a good culture fit' becomes a disguise for rejecting candidates who don't match the existing team's demographic or personality profile.

These types of unconscious biases stretch far and wide, subtly eroding the very foundation we strive to build our teams upon as these often lead to bad hiring decisions followed by high turnover rates

When diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) suffer, so does innovation, as it may lead us to overlook candidates who could have brought unique skills and new ideas to the table, while also narrowing the range of perspectives and experiences within the team. 

This not only limits the growth but can also tarnish the employer branding, making it increasingly difficult to attract top talent.

How to avoid Interviewer Bias

Awareness is the first step, but actionable strategies are key to avoiding bias:

  • Standardised Interview Questions: Develop a set of standardised, role-specific questions to ensure all candidates are evaluated equally. 
  • Blind Recruitment Processes: Consider anonymising CVs and applications to focus purely on skills and qualifications.
  • Diverse Interview Panels: Include interviewers from various backgrounds to provide multiple perspectives.
  • Structured Interview Processes: Adopt scoring systems for answers to reduce subjective interpretations.
  • Bias Awareness Training: Regular training sessions for all involved in the hiring process to recognise and counteract their biases.
  • Seek External Input: Sometimes, getting an external opinion can help check biases and provide a fresh perspective on a candidate's suitability. At Gilbert Meher, we understand the value of this external insight. As your talent partner, we offer an objective viewpoint, leveraging our extensive experience and diverse perspectives to help you identify the best talent while minimising bias.

The journey to minimising interviewer bias is ongoing and requires commitment. By expanding the awareness and actively implementing strategies to counteract bias, we can make strides towards more equitable, diverse, and successful workplaces. 

Here at Gilbert Meher, we are committed to a hiring process that values fairness and inclusivity, ensuring the best talent has the opportunity to shine.

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