Written by Gareth Bushell | May 25, 2016
Sadly for so many recruiters, even the soundest direct sourcing strategy can be compromised by personal biases that lead to the backing of unsuitable candidates. Most people do not like to see themselves as in any way prejudiced, but it is – alas sometimes human nature that people’s perceptions, and opinions don’t always serve them well in situations demanding more objective analysis.
Here are four biases that crop up frequently in recruiting situations that we advise you to look out for in your future recruitment.
1.Unfair assumptions or extrapolations
This is sometimes referred to as the ‘halo/horn’ bias, whereby applicants can be seen as good or bad on the basis of a mere ‘vibe’ rather than any sturdy evidence. A physically attractive and smartly-dressed applicant, for example, may be presumed from those characteristics to be a strong candidate, while on the other hand it may be thought that someone with an off-putting habit isn’t.
This particular bias concerns our subconscious favouritism for any evidence that would seem to prove our assumptions right. For example, you may have already thought to yourself that someone with prior experience in a particular sector or who attended a certain university would be your perfect next hire. This therefore means that when someone submits a CV appearing to back up this belief, you may gravitate towards them, even if there are plenty of other, perhaps more suitable candidates that don’t necessarily have these traits.
3.Biases relative to your present employees
You may have thought to yourself that “anyone could be better” than your most recent hire… or you may be recruiting a replacement for a beloved former colleague, only to consider that “nobody could replace them”. In the former instance, you probably aren’t going to be sufficiently critical in your judgement of any new candidate’s suitability, whereas in the latter case, you’re almost certainly going to be too critical to hire anyone at all.
4.Biases based on recent hiring patterns
This bias is often the result of thinking that the last few apprentices you hired were brilliant, “so you may as well just recruit some more” or that the last two people you took on from a particular college didn’t work out, “so there’s no point concentrating on any more applicants from that institution.” It is important to understanding your hiring patterns, to ensure you can learn from previous recruitment and make better decisions in the future.
The importance of highlighting all of these biases is to make your recruitment teams that little bit more aware of those biases that can easily creep in. In addition, it is definitely advisable that you take steps to lessen the influence of such biases, most obviously by involving multiple people in the recruitment process.