What is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias is an automatic judgment, preconceived belief, or social stereotype about another person that someone has formed without their own conscious awareness. These beliefs can result in actions that unintentionally benefit or penalize someone you are biased about. The people subjected to these biases are usually minority groups based on class, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs, age, disability, and more. Unconscious and implicit bias are frequently used interchangeably under the unconscious bias umbrella.

5 Examples of Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and How to Prevent It

There are several different types of bias in the recruiting process. Below you will find the more common biases in recruiting.

  1. Confirmation Bias – this happens when we have an initial perception about a candidate. Based on the initial perception, we then look for and focus on information that supports that initial belief. An example of this would be if a candidate attended Harvard University and the interviewer automatically assumes they are the best fit for the position based on the school they attended. This is not always the case.
  2. Gender Bias – the favoring of one gender over another. An example of this is when someone is hiring for a construction position. One may automatically think of hiring a man for this position as the construction field primarily comprises men. According to Zippia, out of close to a million employees in the construction industry, only 6.2% are women.
  3. Ageism – ageism is when you do not hire someone because they are “too old” or even “too young.” It is more common not to hire someone because they are too old. While people over 40 are protected against ageism, it is tough to prove when interviewing for a job. You have no idea who the competition is or their ages making it nearly impossible to prove you weren’t hired because of your age. Ageism can be prevented by having someone remove dates from the resumes submitted or use a special type of software that will block out personal information on the resume.
  4. Beauty Bias – is when you are hired (or not hired) based on your outer appearance. This is very common in sales positions, with attractive women more likely to be hired since they are more likely to make a sale. One way to avoid beauty bias is not to have photos on resumes, and this will eliminate someone getting an interview based on their looks. This is a job interview, not a beauty contest.
  5. Halo Effect – causes people to be biased in their judgments by transferring their feelings about one attribute to other unrelated attributes. An example is assuming that someone pretty or handsome is nice. You cannot tell if someone is nice based on their looks. This is an error in judgment based solely on an individual’s looks.

Awareness of unconscious bias can help to reduce or eliminate any type of prejudice that may exist throughout the hiring process. There are several ways that recruitment teams can work to mitigate bias in their hiring practices. 

One of the best ways to reduce bias when recruiting new hires is by using artificial intelligence (AI), a practice followed by PandoLogic.  AI provides the ability to hire individuals more efficiently, shortlist qualified candidates more accurately, and screen resumes more fairly. By using AI, the candidate has been targeted, and the biases have been removed before the interviews have been scheduled 

4 Ways to Overcome Unconscious Bias:

  • Educate Employees about How Stereotypes Work – some people don’t realize they are showing bias. By educating them and informing them of what bias is and providing examples, the person hiring becomes more aware and in turn more careful about the hiring process.
  • Establish Clear Criteria for Evaluation – hiring someone qualified for the position is much easier when you know what you are looking for. Establishing clear criteria will help to ensure the right person is hired.
  • Hold Decision Makers Accountable – if the decision maker has to explain why they hired someone, they are more likely to hire the right person for the job, regardless of gender, age, nationality, etc.
  • Be Transparent in Your Hiring Process – if you have nothing to hide and show the criteria for hiring employees, it will make for a smoother process.
  • Standardize the Interview Process – in a standardized interview, the candidates are asked the same questions in the same order. This allows the interviewer to focus on the skills that directly impact the individual’s performance.

PandoLogic is a programmatic job advertising and vendor management platform used in job recruiting. Through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and proprietary cognitive engines, they enable companies to source quality applicants more effectively and efficiently. Job advertising is optimized and fully automated with their talent acquisition platform utilized across diverse job categories. A demo is available to show you how easy it is to use.

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