Beware of Recruitment Bias – It can Silently Kill Your Organizational Productivity

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Across the world millions of organizations get affected by “biased recruitment” that works both conscious and unconscious in the organization – that affects the overall productivity of the business. According to various HR researchers, unconscious bias, sexism, and ageism play a significant role when it comes to hiring a candidate for a job.

Recruitment processes are commonly plagued by biases like Halo Effect, a cognitive bias in which a recruiter’s overall impression of a person is influenced by how he/she feel and think about the candidate’s character. Confirmation bias (the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses), Intuition, etc. These hiring preferences cause us to interpret information in a way that creates our subjective reality and lead us to inaccurate judgments.

So how do you ensure you avoid biases to creep into your recruitment process hire the best? How can you recognize and reduce these biases? And most importantly, where do you start from?

Ms Kanika Kohli, Vice President of Trendsetters Facilities & Technical Services (TFTS), largest outsourcers of specialized manpower and licensed labour to northern India shares ways you can you be more objective in your hiring process and select the best candidate.

1. Confirmation Bias

This type of bias applies when recruiters create a hypothesis in their mind and look for ways to prove it. A common example of confirmation bias can be observed when recruiters go through resumes and then they pick a candidate who has attended IIM business school. Since IIMs are the top-rated business school, recruiters expect the candidate to be a top performer as well. While they keep their thoughts away from considering other possibilities such as that this particular candidate could be an exception, or that despite the skills he/she may possess, the candidate may be a mismatch for the company culture as well.

2. Affinity Bias

Recruiters apply affinity bias when they select people who went to the same college as they did, or who grew up in the same city as they did. They miss to focus their attention on the necessary skills or knowledge but put emphasis on similarities the candidate may have with them on the personal, educational, and professional background. That said, finding someone from the same home city or someone who owns the same exact diploma as the recruiter did, can lead them to compromise on matching the desired skills and the full job requirements for recruiters own similarities.

3. Halo and Horns Effect

Halo Effect is the phenomenon when recruiters assume that because people are good at doing one thing right, they will be good at doing other things right as well. It is highly associated with the first impression. If a candidate create a first good impression, it gets difficult for interviewers to change the way they perceive this person later. Exactly the opposite happens under the “Horns Effect”. If recruiters formulate a negative impression about a candidate when they first meet him/her, then they tend to ignore any of the candidate’s positive characteristics and concentrate only on unfavourable ones.

4. Intuition

Intuition bias refers to judgments people make based on their “sixth sense”. In this case recruiters do not have ready all the necessary information about a candidate and they make assumptions based on their feelings and intellect. Of course, sometimes recruiters need to have the “guts” and make decisions based on what they think, feel, or believe; but why make uncontrolled risky decisions when they have the opportunity to take “controlled risks” i.e limiting the risk with gathering information?

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