It’s reported that we receive 11 million bits of information every second. However we only consciously process 40 bits of this. This means that more than 99.9% of all information is processed on an unconscious level.
In 2006, the term ‘Implicit Bias’ was introduced, as a novel concept in a paper. This can play a huge role in the hiring and recruitment process. Sometimes our mind frames a bias positively, yet this can still be unfair.
For example, you see a candidate and they went to a university that you class as intelligent and a good university with good students. However this can create what is known as the ‘halo effect’. Due to the fact that the candidate went to that university you could unconsciously be ignoring other parts of the candidate that make them the wrong fit for your business.
We all know that first impressions and gut feelings count for so much during the interview process. However you need to work hard at preventing the unconscious bias because this can lead to unfair, inaccurate judgements, overlooked talent or even discrimination.
In your mind you may have a stereotypical image of what a successful person looks like, but this then affects how you compare and contrast all candidates. The person that is best able to promote themselves during the interview may not be the best person for the job, or your business.
We all carry something known as affinity bias. This is when your brain sees something in someone else that is familiar or relatable. We all want to be around people that we can relate to, but is that the best thing for the workplace?
The more common bias of Gender Bias commonly occurs in interviews and the recruitment process too. This is when stereotypical views are believed; things such as women not being serious about their careers, men being better at numbers or physically demanding jobs. In other cases interviewers may find that they relate more to someone of their own gender.
So how can you make sure that these biases are minimised during the interview, recruitment and hiring process?
Research was completed by Harvard and Princeton and it found that blind auditions increased the likelihood of female musicians joining the orchestra from 25% to 46%.
You also need to think about the tone, voice and words used in job descriptions to make them inclusive. Opt for words that are gender-neutral descriptions and avoid gender-coded words. As with the orchestra example, why not blind view the CVs, taking out names or any gender details?
During the CV reviewing and interviewing make notes of your initial impressions and compare these with other feedback from interviewers. Evaluate each candidate based on their merit and suitability. Try to avoid comparing candidates against one another.
By using a diverse hiring committee and ensuring numerous people meet the candidate you can help people check their biases and uncover and blind spots too.
To overcome unconscious biases you need to recognise that everyone carries their own biases. Aspire Cambridge would recommend that you take your time with decisions. View each candidate on their own and see them as an individual, don’t compare them to other candidates as this is when unconscious biases can slip in.