Have you ever bumped an applicant up the list because they went to a prestigious school or eliminated a candidate for wearing the wrong clothes? While we would like to think we are objective, the reality is that we are only human. Everyone is subject to implicit biases. Unfortunately, when left unchecked, biases have a detrimental effect on employee selection.

Eliminating unconscious bias in hiring practices is difficult for employers to do because unconscious biases are just that—unconscious. As psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum has asserted, people develop biases involuntarily and are typically unaware of them.

The first step in reducing the influence of unconscious bias in hiring is explicitly acknowledging we all have biases—unconscious or otherwise, that contribute to unfair and subjective employee selections. Fortunately, it is possible to develop a fair and consistent basis for selecting candidates. Introducing objective measures like skills tests and blind interviews enables organizations to reduce the impact of hiring bias and change the way they hire.

The Top 5 Unconscious Biases in Hiring

Understanding these 5 unconscious biases in hiring is the key to mitigating the harmful impact of biased and discriminatory hiring practices.

  1. Affinity Bias

Affinity bias is one of the most common types of bias. It refers to the tendency to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves. Affinity bias often leads hiring teams to select candidates who look, act, and operate like them. For instance, you may unknowingly favor candidates who went to the same college as you, share your same race or gender, speak the same languages as you, or remind you of your younger self.

  1. Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias occurs in the hiring process when you form an initial opinion about a candidate based on subjective criteria such as where they live or went to school, and then use the interview as a way to confirm that opinion rather than objectively evaluate the candidate’s responses.

  1. Attribution Bias

In life, when we do something well, the tendency is to credit this accomplishment to our skills and efforts. And when we make mistakes, we tend to blame external factors. We typically do not give candidates the same grace. In fact, attribution bias drives us to view candidates’ successes and failures in the exact opposite way we view our own. Attribution bias leads us to treat candidates’ successes as lucky and see any hiccups in their careers as red flags or deal-breakers. Unfortunately, humans are often quick to make harsh judgments and false assumptions about others without taking the time to understand the full story.

  1. Conformity Bias

When conducting group interviews, conformity bias is a common issue. Rather than stick with our own opinion, conformity bias drives us to sway our opinion to match the majority’s opinion. Doing so prevents you from objectively evaluating candidates’ responses. And too often, the most vocal member of the interview panel is the first one to express an opinion, and that opinion then becomes the consensus. When the majority is incorrect in their assessment of an interviewee’s responses and individual opinions have become muddled or lost entirely, hiring teams miss out on qualified talent.

  1. Gender Bias

Unfortunately, even in our modern era, gender bias still exists. In fact, a study out of Harvard found that hiring managers tend to regard men as better at math-related tasks than women and women as better at verbal tasks than men. And even when confronted with applicants’ test results proving otherwise, employers were still more likely to choose women for verbal tasks and men for math tasks. So, gender bias still plays a role in how hiring managers determine which jobs men and women are qualified to perform.

How to Reduce Unconscious Bias in Hiring

When employers use data, rather than subjective measures to select candidates, the process is less subject to hiring bias. eSkill’s employment skills tests provide organizations with an unbiased and objective approach to talent selection.

With the most extensive library of customizable and combinable job-based skills tests and in-depth subjects in the employment testing industry, eSkill makes it easy to select and configure a job-based skills test for any position.

While skills tests provide employers with an unbiased method of shortlisting qualified candidates, there is still a lot of hiring bias in many entities’ traditional interview processes. eSkill’s innovative platform has made it easy for organizations to implement an interviewing process that nearly eliminates subjective measures.

eSkill’s on-demand video interviewing platform facilitates a structured and objective interview process following these steps:

  1. Record interview questions: The hiring team records a set of pre-determined questions.
  2. Establish scoring criteria: The hiring team establishes criteria that define how reviewers will award points for each question.
  3. Send interviews: Every applicant answers the same questions in the same order and records a response to each.
  4. Score interviews: A designated administrator from the hiring team oversees scoring. On the eSkill’s Interview Portal, the administrator assigns multiple members of the hiring team to score interviews. Each assigned reviewer then watches candidates’ responses and uses the pre-established scoring criteria to award points for each response.
  5. Scoring practices reviewed: On the eSkill Interview Portal, the administrator must approve each reviewer’s score before averaging the scores for a final total. Doing so enables hiring teams to calibrate scoring practices. For instance, if members of the hiring team are consistently scoring interview responses lower or higher than the rest of the panel, the administrator can work with the outliers to understand their reasoning and reinforce the agreed-upon scoring criteria. 

Although it is hard to admit, our unconscious biases have an adverse effect on talent selection. This is why employers must work to establish objective and fair hiring practices.

Interested in Reducing Hiring Bias in Your Organization?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s job-based skills tests and structured interviewing platform to eliminate unconscious bias in hiring.

Request a demo today.

Adina Miron

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