Employer Interview Tips

Avoiding Interview Bias

When interviewing potential candidates it is always hard not to form a personal opinion or a personal bias when first meeting them. With the limited time you have to interview the candidate, you need to make a decision quickly on the small amount information you have. However during this process you need to be aware of your bias, even if it is subconscious, and not let it impair your professional judgement or the interview process.

First Impressions & Stereotypes: This is called Heuristic Bias and it occurs when people’s decisions become heavily influenced by quick and often superficial evaluations, such as a person’s attractiveness. Researcher Richard A Postuma in 2002 discovered that often these affects include race, gender, background or even attitude in the interview and are not relevant to the qualities required by the positions. First impressions and stereotypes are not the best way to measure someone in an interview and is not a good indicator of a candidate’s performance for the job. One way to get past this is not to make a hiring decision in the first 30 minutes of the interview. Evaluate if the candidate is capable of doing the job and to what level.

Inconsistent questioning:
 This is where the interviewer asks each candidate different questions. This does not give you a fair assessment of each candidate’s capabilities for the job. The easiest way to avoid this kind of bias is to have a set of interview questions you ask every candidate. Look at the job criteria and what skills the candidate needs to perform the job and base your questions around this.

Halo/horn effect:  The “halo” effect is when an interviewer allows one strong point about the candidate to overlook or have an effect on everything else. This could be that a particular person has attended the same school as the interviewer. Everything the applicant says after this will be looked upon more favourably. The “horn” effect is the opposite of this – allowing one weakness to influence everything else the candidate says. Interviewers should prepare questions that probe for specific examples and stay away from the “yes” or “no” answers.

When interviewing remember to look at the job criteria and write of list of questions that surrounds the job you are hiring for. Make sure you ask the same questions to each candidate and ask probing questions that create a dialog. Also don’t make a hiring decision in the first 30 minutes of the interview. Once you have asked all the questions and the 30 minutes have passed, measure your first impression again. You will find that about a third of your candidates are far stronger than imagined and about another third is not as strong as imagined.  Try not to let your bias affect who you are going to hire for the job, as this may not necessarily be the right person.

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