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Interviewer bias in recruiting

Interviewer bias in recruiting, how to avoid it? 

Interviews play an important role in the hiring process, where candidates aim to impress, and interviewers aim to select the best fit. However, sometimes during the selection process, biases can impact decisions, leading to selection of candidates based on factors unrelated to the candidate’s skills or experience. Recognizing and addressing interviewer bias is essential for creating a fair and successful hiring process that benefits both candidates and organizations 

What is interviewer bias? 

Interviewer bias refers to the tendency of an interviewer to make decisions based on factors unrelated to the qualifications of the candidate. This bias in recruitment can be shown in various forms, such as favoring candidates who are like the interviewer in terms of background and making assumptions about a candidate based on factors such as relation, race, gender, age. Interviewer bias can lead to discriminatory hiring practices. 


How does interview bias affect organizational growth?

Interview bias in recruitment can have a far-reaching effect on the composition and success of an organization’s workforce.  Human bias can hinder efforts to build diverse and productive teams. The following are the ways in which bias in recruitment can affect an organization. 

Lack of diversity 

Bias in recruitment can lead to a lack of diversity in the workforce, as it may result in the exclusion of candidates from underrepresented groups. This lack of diversity can have a significant impact on organizational growth, as it limits the range of perspectives and ideas within the organization. People from different backgrounds bring unique experiences and insights to the table. So, without a diverse workforce, organizations might struggle to come up with creative and innovative ideas. 

Missing qualified candidates 

Bias in recruitment can result in the rejection of qualified candidates, leading to missed opportunities for organizations to hire individuals who could bring valuable skills and perspectives. When interviewers are influenced by biases, they tend to focus too heavily on certain criteria, such as favoring candidates based on age, gender, similar background and overlook candidates who do not match these criteria but possess the necessary qualifications and potential to excel in the role. This can result in the loss of talented individuals who could contribute significantly to the organization’s growth. 

Impact on sales 

Biased hiring practices can lead to inefficiencies in operations and negatively affect business growth. Inefficient operations can have a direct impact on sales, as delays, errors, and other issues can hinder the organization’s ability to meet customer demands and compete effectively in the market. 

Negative reputation 

Interviewer bias can have a negative effect on an organization’s reputation. Candidates who perceive bias in the hiring process could hold a bad impression about the organizations. Word of biased practices can spread quickly through social media and other channels, tarnishing the organization’s image and making it less attractive to top talent. A negative reputation can impede an organization’s growth by limiting its ability to attract new employees. 

Lowers employee retention rate 

Interviewer bias can also affect promotions by creating unfair treatment for certain individuals, leading to deserving candidates not being considered.  Bias in promotions can impact employee engagement, as employees who perceive bias may become disengaged and less committed to the organization. This can create a certain organizational culture characterized by favoritism and unfairness, ultimately leading to increased turnover. 


How to avoid interviewer bias?

Interviewer bias can significantly impact decision-making, leading to unfair treatment of candidates. To avoid such biases, it is essential to implement strategies that promote a more objective assessment of candidates and follow right interviewing techniques 

Consistent interview process 

Standardizing the interview process is needed to make unbiased evaluations of candidates. This means using the same format with the same set of questions based on thorough job analysis. By standardizing the interview process, interviewers can evaluate them objectively. Additionally, developing a same scoring criterion for all participants helps prove that the interviewers are assessing candidates on the same criteria. 

Using open ended questions 

Open-ended questions encourage candidates to provide detailed responses, allowing interviewers to gain deeper understanding of their qualifications and experiences. This approach can help mitigate bias by focusing the evaluation more on the candidate’s actual skills and abilities, rather than on irrelevant factors. 

Training interviewers 

Training interviewers on the standardized interview process is essential to ensure they conduct interviews effectively and impartially. Interviewers should be trained in how to interview candidates to get a deeper understanding of the candidate’s skills and experiences. Additionally, training should cover how to score candidates based on the established evaluation criteria, ensuring that all interviewers use the same standards when evaluating candidates. By providing comprehensive training, organizations can guarantee that interviewers are well-equipped to conduct fair and effective interviews, leading to right hiring decisions 

Candidate profile management 

In any ATS software like Hiretrace, there is a comprehensive candidate profile feature. This feature includes all basic details, evaluation details, review criteria, reviewer feedback, marks, candidate responses, offer details, and onboarding information. This way the interview process can be tracked from start to end and it guarantees that all the necessary information is available to make the right decisions and provide onboarding experience for successful candidates free from difficulties. 

Panel interviews 

Panel interviews can be considered an effective strategy for reducing interviewer bias in the hiring process. By involving multiple interviewers, panel interviews bring a range of perspectives, which helps mitigate the impact of individual biases. The presence of multiple interviewers from different backgrounds means that no single bias dominates the evaluation. Panel interviews encourage a more thorough and balanced assessment of candidate 

Use software to simplify the selection process 

Technolgy can help eliminate subjective biases that can arise when interviewers assess candidates differently. Recruitment management software eliminates human errors in the selection process, such as overlooking important information or allowing personal biases to influence decisions. By providing data and analytics, recruitment software enables recruiters to make more informed decisions, further reducing the impact of subjective biases. 

Blind evaluation 

In the context of hiring, this usually involves reviewing job applications without seeing the applicant’s name, gender, or other personal details that are not directly related to their qualifications for the job. The goal is to focus solely on the candidate’s skills and experience, rather than being affected by unwanted factors. 

Being aware of the job role requirements 

Being mindful of the specific requirements of the position is important in reducing interviewer bias. When interviewers are aware of the specific skills, experiences needed for the job, they can focus their questions and evaluations on these factors, rather than being influenced by irrelevant considerations 

Also, to get rid of interview bias, it’s essential to avoid unrelated discussions during the interview. While only relevant discussions can help create a comfortable environment, going off-topic can lead to biases based on personal preferences or shared experiences. Interviewers should stay focused on the job-related aspects of the discussion to ensure that their judgment is based solely on the candidate’s qualifications and fit for the role. By keeping the conversation relevant and professional, interviewers can reduce the influence of unrelated factors on their evaluation process, leading to a fairer assessment of each candidate 


Categories of interviewer bias 

Interviewer bias can be categorized into different forms. Understanding the types of biases that can occur is the first step towards mitigating their effect. There are several common types of interviewer bias to be aware of 

Similarity bias 

Similarity bias occurs when interviewers unconsciously favor candidates who share similar backgrounds, experiences, or interests. Interviewers could feel more comfortable with those who resemble them. As a result, candidates who do not fit this pattern may be at a disadvantage, even if they possess the necessary skills and qualifications for the job. 

First impression bias 

First Impression bias occurs when interviewers form an initial impression of a candidate at the very beginning during the interview process. This bias can be problematic as it can lead interviewers to depend heavily on candidates’ initial impression rather than objectively evaluating the candidate’s qualifications and responses. 

Contrast effect bias 

An interviewer bias occurs when interviewers compare candidates without considering the job requirements. This can lead to inconsistent evaluations, as the performance of one candidate may be judged more favorably based on the order in which they are interviewed. For example, if a strong candidate is interviewed after set of weaker candidates, the interviewer may see the strong candidate as even better than they are. 

Nonverbal interviewer bias 

Nonverbal bias refers to the situation where interviewers are influenced by a candidate’s nonverbal actions, such as body language and appearance. For example, if a candidate maintains good eye contact and appears confident, the interviewer may unconsciously perceive them as more competent and qualified for the position. On contrary to that, if a candidate appears nervous, and avoids eye contact, the interviewer may unfairly judge them as less capable, even if their verbal responses and resumes demonstrate strong skills and experience 


Stereotyping occurs when interviewers rely on generalizations about certain groups of people to make assumptions about a candidate’s abilities or qualifications. For instance, if an interviewer holds a belief that older candidates are less adaptable to emerging technologies, they may unfairly judge an older applicant’s suitability for a role that requires flexibility. Similarly, stereotypes about gender, race, or nationality can influence understanding of a candidate’s suitability for the role, regardless of their actual skills and experience. 

Nonconsistency in questioning  

Nonconsistency in questioning is another type of interview bias. This happens when different types of questions are raised for candidates by interviewers. For example, an interviewer may ask more challenging questions from a candidate they perceive to be highly qualified, while asking simpler questions to a candidate they perceive as less qualified. This can lead to an unfair evaluation process. 

Negative emphasis bias 

This type of bias occurs when a negative trait or experience impacts the interviewer’s overall perception of a candidate, resulting in a negative evaluation, even if the candidate possesses other positive qualities. For instance, if a candidate is slightly late to the interview, an interviewer influenced by this would more focus on this negative aspect, leading to a negative impression of the candidate’s suitability for the role, despite their qualifications or skills. 

Positive emphasis bias 

This type of interviewer bias occurs when an interviewer forms a positive impression of a candidate based on one positive thing, leading to an overall favorable evaluation, even if other aspects of the candidate are not as strong. For example, if a candidate has a good educational background, the interviewer may unconsciously assume that they are a suitable fit for the position, even though the other aspects are wrong. This bias can lead to an inaccurate assessment of the candidate’s suitability for the role, as the interviewer’s judgment is influenced by a single positive characteristic rather than a comprehensive evaluation of their qualifications and experience. 

Recency bias 

This type of bias in recruitment occurs when interviewers give more weight to information from the most recent interactions with candidates, compared to earlier interactions. This bias can lead interviewers to understand candidates who interviewed later in the process more positively, even if their overall performance was not as strong as earlier candidates. In brief, recency bias means that the most recent candidates are more likely to be evaluated more favorably simply because they were interviewed later.


Concluding thoughts

If the strategies mentioned above are implemented, the organizations can minimize human bias and put in place an equitable hiring process for all applicants. Also, when the interview biases are addressed, organizations can improve the quality of hires, promote diversity and create a favorable workplace for all employees. 

If you are a recruiter or a hiring manager who is planning to recruit on Linkedin, knowing the common mistakes is important as it can make a significant difference in the success of the recruitment efforts. By understanding what to avoid, you can enhance your approach and maximize your chances of attracting top talent.