5 Biases Hiring Managers Have (and How to Use Them to Your Advantage)
It is important for every company to hire the best available talent, but it is easier said than done. Some corporations spend millions of dollars to improve their hiring processes.
They put a supposedly well-thought-out hiring system in place, but fail to identify and hire the right candidates.
To make matters worse, they sometimes end up offering the job to the least competent candidate.
This is really frustrating for a brilliant candidate like you.
You may have everything you need to land the job but still cannot get your hands on that elusive offer letter due to the mistakes committed by hiring managers.
You must be wondering what the main reason behind hiring blunders which are becoming more and more common is.
The main factor is the humans, which fortunately or unfortunately run all the hiring systems.
To err is human and same is the case with hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers.
Sometimes, even the most experienced hiring managers make terrible mistakes while recruiting new staff for their organizations.
There are many things which subconsciously lead to poor hiring decisions and different types of hiring biases are one of them.
Some managers go as far as relying solely on their instincts to choose a candidate for the given position.
In fact, their instincts simply compel them to prefer their personal likings and disliking rather than actually bothering to review qualification and experience of all the candidates.
These biases often cloud their judgment and force them to make illogical decisions which can cost their organization dearly in the long run.
Believe it or not, everyone has hundreds, if not thousands of biases related to a certain situation and hiring managers are no exception.
Some of the most common biases that make recruiting new talent awfully inaccurate are as under.
BIG ACHIEVEMENTS OUTSHINE EVERYTHING ELSE
It is really nice to mention your past achievements and glories on your resume.
Many experts recommend turning your resume duties to achievements in order to impress the hiring managers.
You can considerably boost your chances of success by mentioning that you started a multi-million dollars business from your garage or you started working for Facebook at the age of 18.
You will appear pretty awesome to hiring managers, even if they do not know anything else about you.
Some hiring managers assume that since you have performed brilliantly in one area, you will be able to replicate your performance in other unrelated areas as well.
This particular type of bias or behavior on the part of hiring managers is commonly known as the Hallo Effect.
In simple words, it is the tendency to instantly like everything about a person without analyzing or observing all of his attributes and competencies.
Such managers want to see or do not see something in a person.
Subsequently, they believe they have the evidence to support their claim when they do not really have any.
For instance, a single piece of information is enough for a recruiter to form an opinion about the candidate.
As a result, he does not even bother to interview him to ascertain his suitability for the job.
This type of bias can encourage hiring managers to hire applicants which are least suitable for the position at the expense of more competent or deserving ones.
You may not even get an interview call if the person reviewing your application easily succumbs to the Hallo Effect.
Perceived assumptions often make great candidates appear less competent than the average ones, making it difficult for the earlier to land the job.
Halo Effect especially comes into play when a candidate is performing brilliantly during an interview.
The hiring manager, after establishing some of the candidate’s competencies, assumes he is equally competent in other areas.
He will ignore some important evaluation points and hire that candidate instantly.
How to Use Hallo Effect to Your Favor?
There are many ways in which you can use this particular type of hiring bias to your favor.
First and foremost, you must display each of your achievement prominently on your resume.
Some managers even perceive you must be a great worker if you have attended a reputed university or college such as Ivy League schools.
Therefore, do mention your college or university with pride if you were fortunate enough to study in any such institute.
It is definitely an honor to work for Google, Facebook or Twitter, etc.
So, never forget to feature your previous organizations especially if they are among world famous companies.
Similarly, some recruiters will develop a soft corner for you before the actual interview if you played for your college football team, captained your state’s baseball team or you happen to be an Olympian.
You must list the most exciting incidents and experiences of your past on your curriculum vitae. Keep in mind that people remember things in order of their introduction.
For instance, a hiring manager will most likely remember the first few and the last few points on your resume.
He will also assume these points to be the most important aspects of your career simply because they are easy to remember.
The top and bottom of your application have to be absolutely brilliant and attention-grabbing.
For example, the first section of your resume can be an Achievement section containing all of your achievements that can enhance the recruiter’s bias.
On the other hand, put your most impressive traits and skills in the “Skills” Section right at the bottom.
THE BEAUTY BIAS
This is perhaps the most common bias hiring managers across the world have.
There are only a select few who can keep this bias commonly referred to as Effective Heuristic at arm’s length while hiring new candidates.
In this regard, everyone tries his level best to have a killer photo for his LinkedIn profile or curriculum vitae.
You may also “work” tirelessly to look perfect on your interview day. In fact, some people strive to look more attractive for their interview than on their wedding day and there is nothing wrong with it.
A large number of hiring managers tend to give preferences to candidates who look attractive.
The Institute for Study of Labor has recently conducted a research which suggests that you can get higher wages or increase your chances of successfully getting an appointment if you are more attractive than other applicants.
This is unfair to those candidates who may be more deserving, to say the least, but unfortunately, this is the ugly truth which you have to recognize.
Dismissing candidates based on their looks or your personal sense of style is definitely wrong.
It is often said that you should never judge a book by its cover but that is exactly what happens in organizations during interviews.
Instead of developing standard questions and keeping the interview same for everyone regardless of their appearance, a hiring manager may decide not to hire certain candidates simply because he does not like the way they look and behave.
Putting it in another way, you have to look like a model or a movie start to get the job.
Being hard working and smart is not enough to melt the heart of such recruiters.
How to Overcome Beauty Bias?
You know you have to look attractive during your interview in order to defeat “models” and “movie stars” whom you are competing with.
You must look beautiful, even if you have to go well out of your way.
In this regard, some companies propagate that they don’t mind the looks, but never take anything for guaranteed.
At least do not dress shabbily or look sloppy to the hiring manager.
Everyone instantly loves beauty and recruiters are no different.
You should leave no stone unturned to look your best.
You must take care of many things when it comes to dressing for the interview.
Remember that every interview is a formal occasion and therefore, you should prepare accordingly.
For instance, body piercings or yellow hair may simply scare the hiring managers off no matter how good you are at your craft.
There is a popular phrase that you “should dress for the job you want.”
Make sure that the style and fit of your clothes, jewelry and other accessories such as makeup, glasses, belts, and shoes are age-appropriate, contemporary and suitable for the work environment and industry.
Spending some time on your grooming can enhance your chances of getting hired by 20%.
Some other “beauty” factors recruiters consider are your weight and height.
You cannot change your height but you can definitely maintain your weight.
It is pertinent to note that most hiring managers prefer average weight candidates and reject both overweight and underweight candidates.
When it comes to labor market return, the presentation is everything.
No matter how innately attractive you are, if you do fail to present yourself charmingly, you will not be able to achieve your goal.
You actually send a signal to the hiring manager that you care about yourself and you are doing the best you can with your looks, body posture, hair and everything else you have got by spending some time to prepare for the interview.
They will form a perception that you can put some effort into your new job if you care about improving your appearance.
THE OVERCONFIDENCE EFFECT OR BIAS
The overconfidence effect or bias occurs when people believe they are the best at what they do.
Most of the hiring managers around the world are highly qualified and have years of hands-on experience. That is the reason why they are hiring managers and others are not.
After all, they cannot hire or fire anyone if they do not possess solid skills and experience in this field themselves.
However, these skills and experience sometimes encourage them to make a wrong hiring decision, a phenomenon commonly known as the Overconfidence Bias.
In fact, thousands, if not millions, of hiring managers suffer from this particular type of bias.
The simple theory behind the overconfidence bias is that hiring managers who believe they make the right hiring decisions 80% of the time actually never achieve 80% accuracy.
As a result, they get less and less certain when it comes to hiring new talent without even realizing what they are doing.
They start thinking subjectively and hand the offer letter to the wrong candidate in the end.
Instead of uncovering candidate’s cognitive skills and traits relevant to the vacancy, they base their decision on their own intuition.
They seldom bother to carry out personality or psychometric tests or screen the candidates as well.
How to Triumph Overconfidence Bias?
It is not easy to change someone’s perception about you because intuition mostly wins over evidence.
You may have also noticed that overconfidence bias is very similar to the confirmation bias.
Both types of biases occur when hiring managers use their guts or instincts while performing their hiring duties.
What you are trying to achieve here is to have a good first impression on a hiring manager.
Even if he uses his instincts to shortlist a candidate, he needs something to intuit about.
That something is your resume.
You need to recognize the fact that recruiters exhibit such type of behavior if all the information about your personality and career is not readily available to them.
If you want to triumph the overconfidence bias, make the process of discerning the best possible information about you easier for the hiring manager.
Try your best to include all of your achievements and awards at prominent places in your resume.
Put some effort to improve your CV and make it a joy to read.
Only then you will be able to impress these types of hiring managers
THE “SIMILAR TO ME” BIAS
The most ridiculous yet a common bias hiring managers display is the “similarity or mini-me bias.”
Such type of manager immediately hires a candidate whom they see similar to themselves.
Some hiring managers only need things like, “We went to the same school” or “We both love to play soccer” to select an applicant.
If you have these qualities, you are hired. If you do not have these qualities, try your luck next time.
Some experts consider “similar to me” bias as the worst kind of hiring bias.
Recruiters exhibiting mini-me bias only hire candidates who share the same socioeconomic status, casual interests, hobbies, and even genders.
These managers choose candidates which are apparently “similar” to them, totally ignoring the more deserving or qualified candidates in the process.
This bias usually occurs when the recruiter is conducting the interview for the position he previously held.
He thinks he was successful in the position because he has certain skills, attributes, and qualifications.
Therefore, he seeks similar attributes in the candidates he interviews and hires the first person who seems to meet his criteria and requirements.
This bias is particularly dangerous both for the organizations looking to hire new talent and the candidates because such recruiters consider many things other than similar interests and affiliations.
It is not only about men preferring men or feminists hiring only females.
It does not result in optimal hiring on most occasions because it is the path of least resistance.
It just feels right to the person responsible for finding the best possible talent for his organization.
Most importantly, he does not have to do a lot of introspection.
If he likes you because you have similar personality or interests, you are going to be hired.
How to Combat Similarity Bias?
It is a daunting task to counter “similar to me” bias during the interview. It is a matter of personal liking or disliking.
What you can do if the only criterion of selection is “attending the same university?”
However, you must combat the mini-me bias if you do want the job at any cost.
One method of countering this bias is searching thoroughly about the organization you want to join.
Acquire as much information about the hiring manager as possible?
Go through his LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts to learn more about the schools he attended, his interests and hobbies, companies he has worked for, and his core skills and traits.
For example, if he loves Game of Thrones (which everybody does nowadays), you can also mention in your interview that you like the hit TV show even if you don’t.
There is no harm in being little tactful.
Also, make connections in the organization and strive hard to get more information about the interviewer.
You can also meet some of the employees whom he has already interviewed and hired.
Ask them about how he behaves during the interview, what he wants his best candidate to have, and what are some of the factors he considers while making the final decision.
The stereotype bias has been adversely affecting the hiring decisions for decades now.
This type of bias occurs when hiring managers consider race, ethnicity, country or gender to select a candidate to fill the job openings in their organizations.
You may already have experienced this kind of bias in your life.
You can face different types of stereotypes whenever you appear for an interview.
For example, there is a common perception that women are generally weak in mathematics which is far from true.
A hiring manager may be inclined to hire a male for the position which requires the occupant to have advanced mathematical skills such as an accountant.
Even though he knows that females can perform equally well, he would seldom offer them a job.
He may ignore a female candidate even if she seems to be more qualified and skilled as compared to all other candidates including men and women.
Similarly, most Americans believe that Indians are particularly good in mathematics.
Therefore, most of the vacancies related to mathematics in the United States normally go to Indians nowadays. This is because recruiters believe that Indians can excel in these roles.
There is also a common belief that millennials are very lazy and feel too entitled.
On the contrary, some hiring managers perceive baby boomers to be ignorant of the technology and too reluctant to adapt to a new work environment and procedures.
In short, companies and hiring managers continue to apply different types of stereotypes such as ageism, racism, and sexism even if they significantly compromise their productivity and profits.
How to Use Stereotypes in Hiring to Your Advantage?
You can actually beat all the stereotypes during your interview through proper preparation and research.
If you are a lady looking to land a job related to mathematics in a certain company, research its past, current, and future projects and prepare yourself accordingly.
Speak about how you can benefit the company and assist with these projects in the future.
Never hesitate to show your enthusiasm and interest in the company.
However, choose your words wisely while expressing yourself.
When you spend some extra time searching their company, it sends a message to the hiring manager that you are truly motivated and excited to join the company.
Moreover, never forget that your actions speak louder than your words.
There are managers who focus more heavily on your education, skills, experiences, and resume.
Keep the interviewer interested in things that really matter with your answers and counter questions rather than allowing him to think about your gender, race or age.
Avoid talking about your personal matters or the issues you faced at your previous organization.
Focus on your skills and abilities which separate you from the rest of the candidates.
Another great method to impress the hiring managers is to dress properly irrespective of the nature of the company.
It will not only show your professionalism but will also present you as a responsible and mature person.
You should do all you can to combat all these hiring biases and use them to your advantage.
Yes, it is difficult to do but not impossible.
Keep in mind that hiring managers are humans just like the rest of us.
You have to be ready for imperfections and resulting disappointments as long as humans are running the hiring systems. All you can do is to find ways to use these imperfections to your advantage.
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