Interview bias is the preference of an interview candidate based on some preconceived response or ideas that we associate with the interviewee – knowingly and unknowingly. It is the prejudice towards a job seeker not because of how they fit the job but other factors.
It involves preferring job seekers because of their looks, race, place of origin, institution attended or gender their job qualifications notwithstanding. While some interviewers willingly engage in interview bias willingly, the majority of them will have their choice swayed by social factors without even knowing it.
An employer needs to know how to deal with interview bias as it can lead to the recruitment of the wrong kind of candidate for a certain post.
Examples of interview biases
There is a multitude of interview biases and they can’t be easily exhausted. Some the common ones include:
Confirmation bias – with this kind of bias, the interviewer looks for evidence to support pre-formed ideas about a candidate. These pre-conceived beliefs are usually shallow and maybe picked pre-interview.
Affective heuristic/ stereotyping – this is when an interviewer’s decision is based on his/her opinions on the candidate’s gender, race, appearance or religion rather than the candidate’s suitability for a job vacancy.
Contrast effect – a stronger candidate who is interviewed after a weaker candidate may look more suitable for a post because of their contrast. This may not always be the case and taking notes during the various interviews and punctuating the various interviews with breaks may help avoid this bias.
First impressions – first impressions are notorious for interview bias; positive or negative. Letting what the job seeker is wearing or what he/she says the first time cloud the entire process constitutes interview bias.
The Halo effect – this is where an employer allows one strong point about the employee dictate the entire interview. For instance, if the job seeker went to a certain institution.
Horn-effect – the employer lets a single weak point about eh employee influence his/her decision
Inconsistency in questioning – asking different questions to the various interview candidates may not help point out the one who best suits the job.
Ways of reducing interview bias
Employers are aware that interview bias exists even without trying, and hence have ways to counter. These include:
Using structured criteria and structured processes – basing decisions on structured criteria and recording observations using structure processes helps in reducing bias and promotes accurate evaluation
An employer may also allow for a time frame to do evaluations
Interviewer accountability also helps and it can be structured such that an interviewer has to justify why a certain candidate is ideal.