Get paid up to $18,750 for your referral to ExtensisHR!   Start Referral Close

What is Interview Bias and How Can Your Business Avoid It?

Quick look: Interview bias isn’t always obvious, sometimes even a casual discussion can lead to an unfair hiring process. Here, we explore the many types of interview bias, eight tips employers can follow to give every candidate a fair chance, and how a PEO can help businesses stay impartial, diverse, and successful.

Before a job interview, many candidates research the company, prep notes and questions, and carefully choose an outfit. But they aren’t the only ones who should prepare.

It’s critical that interviewers are aware of what’s permissible to discuss during interviews and what’s not. Those who aren’t up to date on these best practices could potentially make a biased hiring decision, which can cause a company to miss out on top talent and experience liabilities.

Unfortunately, even well-meaning small talk can lead to interview bias. To avoid this slippery slope, here’s what employers need to know about the many kinds of interview bias and how to prevent them from occurring.

What is interview bias?

Interview bias is when interviewers hold preconceived thoughts and opinions about a candidate during a job interview. These ideas can ultimately cause factors other than the interviewee’s qualifications to affect the interview and hiring outcome.

While sometimes bias is conscious, meaning the interviewer is aware of their thought process, many times it’s an unconscious occurrence, meaning they don’t know they are doing it.

Anyone can become the target of interview bias, but more susceptible groups include Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+retireesveteransworking mothers, and more. For example, a recent discrimination audit of over 100 U.S. businesses by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago found that applications from seemingly Black candidates received fewer callbacks from White-seeming candidates.

Types of interview bias

Interview bias isn’t cut and dry. There are many common types to be aware of, including:

  • Central tendency bias: A tendency to perceive most individuals as average and hold out for an impossibly perfect candidate.
  • Contrast effect bias: Comparing a candidate to the person who interviewed before them.
  • Cultural noise bias: When the candidate’s and/or interviewer’s beliefs about what is socially acceptable impact the outcome of the interview (i.e., a candidate answering in a way they believe is appropriate instead of voicing their genuine opinion).
  • First impression bias: When an interviewer uses their perception of a candidate to shape their overall impression of that person.
  • Generalization bias: When an interviewer extends the candidate’s behavior during an interview to their general personality and mindset.
  • Halo effect: When one positive aspect of a candidate’s resume overshadows their weaknesses.
  • Negative emphasis bias: Opposite of the halo effect, this is when a negative piece of information about a candidate outweighs the positive and affects the rest of the interview and/or hiring decision.
  • Nonverbal bias: When an interviewer prioritizes nonverbal communication during an interview, letting it outweigh a candidate’s skills and qualifications.
  • Recency bias: When recent interviews are thought of more positively than earlier ones.
  • Similarity bias: When hiring decisions are based on the interviewer’s and candidate’s similar hobbies and traits.
  • Stereotyping bias: Judging an individual based on perceived or imagined group characteristics instead of personal qualities.
  • Variable questioning bias: When an interviewer changes their questions during different interviews based on their conscious or unconscious perception of the candidates.

8 ways to bypass bias

Avoiding the various types of interview bias can feel daunting, especially when so many of them are difficult to identify when they’re happening. There are several methods employers can use to confirm a fair hiring process, both before and after interviews take place.

1. Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to fairness. Each candidate should receive the same number of interviews, the same questions, and the same amount of time to respond. A standardized scorecard can also be helpful for interviewers to use to rate each candidate.

2. Have an open mind

High-quality talent comes from all walks of life, and interviewers should remain unprejudiced about how and where candidates developed their knowledge and skill set.

3. Take ample notes

Interviewers should take detailed notes during each interview. These can be looked back on afterward to ensure that hiring decisions are based on fact-based evidence, not gut feelings.

4. Second guess yourself

It’s important for hiring decision-makers to stay as mindful of their biases as possible. They should always take a moment to ask themselves if they’re choosing a particular candidate based on their qualifications or a bias.

5. Ask the right questions

To encourage candidates to share their skills, interviews should feature strengths-based questions. These questions can give underrepresented candidates, who may have less experience than other interviewees, a chance to discuss their value.

6. Consider potential growth

Are the qualifications listed in your job posting “must haves” or “nice to haves?” In other words, employers should review whether every skill is necessary to start the job or if certain abilities can be taught through reskilling or upskilling.

7. Involve multiple interviewers

Multiple employees should interview each candidate. While this process may feel repetitive at times, it can be helpful to gain a more accurate, well-rounded view of talent.

8. Cast a wide net

If you recruit from a finite pool of candidates, you may miss out on top talent who deserve a fair chance. To develop a broad, diverse talent pool, employers should advertise their job postings in as many places as possible.

The help you need to hire fairly

Recruiting in today’s labor market is tough even before considering what it takes to steer your organization clear of interview bias. Luckily, a professional employer organization (PEO) can help.

For example, ExtensisHR provides full-cycle recruiting services that pair human and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions focused on developing DEI-focused candidate searches. These services include:

  • Unlimited 30-minute phone consultations with a recruiting specialist
  • Sourcing for most staff-level positions
  • Job advertisement creation
  • Salary surveys
  • Skills assessments
  • Offer letter consultations
  • And more

Additionally, these recruiting solutions are offered at no additional cost when paired with PEO services like payrollbenefitsrisk and compliance, and HR management.

Are you looking to simplify your hiring processes? Contact the recruiting professionals at ExtensisHR today.

Our expert advice, direct to your inbox.