July 18, 2023

Hiring Bias: Types of hiring bias and how to reduce them

Zoha Siddiqui
Product Designer | Frontend Developer

Understanding what is hiring bias

The term bias means an action of favoring or opposing a particular candidate, group, perspective, or thing in an unfair or unbalanced way.

Hiring bias refers to an opinion or tendency of organizations involved in the hiring process to favor a candidate or group of candidates irrespective of their skills, qualifications, experience, or education. It includes unjust treatment of applicants, depending on their race, gender, age, culture, disability and etc.

Hiring biases have several disadvantages and organizations need to devise several strategies such as blind resume screenings, structured interviews, writing diverse job descriptions, and unconscious biases training, otherwise, biases in the recruitment process can have a negative impact on the reputation of the company.

Hiring bias

How does hiring bias occurs?

Hiring bias occurs through different methods and procedures in the hiring process, which can affect the overall candidate experience and reputation of the company.

There are generally 2 categories of bias:

Conscious hiring bias

When the individual involved in the hiring process, such as hiring managers or recruiters make biased hiring decisions knowingly or consciously, unrelated to a candidate's skills, qualifications, experience, or education. For example, a hiring manager selects an applicant because he belongs to a particular group and rejects other applicants because they are not part of that group, irrespective of the fact that how talented they are.

Unconscious hiring bias

Unconscious bias occurs when a hiring manager or HR unexpectedly, subconsciously, or unconsciously make biased decisions without being mindful of their biases. This type of bias is unanticipated and crawls into the recruitment process quietly. For example, a recruiter likes a certain skill or quality of a few qualified candidates and tries to select other candidates on the basis of that similar quality, irrespective of their other talents or skills.

2 categories of bias information

Types of hiring bias

The following are a few common but important types of hiring biases that occur in most organizations:

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is when a recruiter has a belief or hypothesis, whether negative or positive, about an applicant and tries to prove himself right. This type of bias can cause serious complications in the recruitment process and can result in losing a quality candidate.

Attribution bias

Attribution bias is a type of bias that takes place when recruiters try to guess and assume reasons for a candidate's certain behavior. Rather than considering circumstances that may have caused them to behave in a certain way, they assume and judge according to their assumptions. For example, if a candidate arrives for an interview and shows a little bit of nervousness and the recruiter starts making assumptions related to the candidate's skills or education and disqualifies him just because he was a little hesitant the first time.

Beauty bias

This type of bias occurs when people are considered superior or inferior to one another and are treated differently based on their physical appearance. Also known as attractiveness bias or lookism, where individuals are judged only based on their physical appearance, instead of their skills, qualities, education, experience, or character.

For example, a hiring manager may choose a candidate for a certain job role just because they have good looks, regardless of what skills or experience they possess. This type of bias can lead to discrimination against quality candidates who do not align with typical beauty standards.

Conformity bias

Conformity bias occurs when recruiters or HRs adopt the beliefs, behaviors, or perspectives of other hiring team members, individuals, or groups instead of using their own judgment to make a decision. For example, if 5 out of 6 hiring team members think candidate#1 is the exact match for an open position, the 6th hiring team member ultimately favors or supports that candidate, even though he thinks candidate#2 was the best fit according to him.

Recruiters or hiring managers should be given proper confirmation bias awareness training to avoid changing their mindsets just to side with the majority of people and give their opinions in regard to which candidate is a strong applicant and who they think is the best fit for the open position.

Race and ethnicity bias

Race and ethnicity bias or racial or ethnic bias is a phenomenon of treating an individual or a group based on their racial or ethnic background, leading to unequal opportunities and discrimination in the workplace.

Race biases involve categorizing people based on physical features, such as facial features, hair, and skin color. On the other hand, ethnic biases categorize individuals based on their cultural background, such as language, traditions, etc.

This type of bias can result in negative attitudes, beliefs, or hatred toward individuals or groups based on their race or ethnicity.

Name bias

As the name suggests, it's simply judging a candidate based on their name only. Sometimes even individuals are given names, based on their culture, personality, and ethnic or racial background, and are treated differently according to them, forming presumptions about their character, skills, abilities, or background, just because of their name.

Gender bias

Gender bias occurs when a certain gender is treated differently and considered prior to another gender, just because of their gender. It includes favoring, promoting, or weakening individuals, because of the norms associated with their gender.

Companies should promote gender equality in workplaces and should provide proper training in this regard.

Age bias

Age bias in the recruitment process occurs when recruiters make unjust assumptions or decisions about an applicant or an individual, depending upon their age. This can include favoring a group of candidates who are relatively younger than the other group, regardless of their skills or experience.

Organizations should provide proper pieces of training to their employees to promote justice and equality while hiring candidates for open positions. They should be guided to treat everyone equally and fair, regardless of their physical appearance, class, age, gender, culture and etc, as it will have a negative impact on the reputation of the company.

Types of hiring bias

How hiring bias affects the overall hiring process?

Hiring bias if not minimized, can have a bad candidate experience, which can result in a negative impact on the reputation of the company. It can affect the hiring process in several ways:

1. If recruiters start evaluating candidates on certain attributes like their physical appearance, caste, or culture, they'll eventually miss out on talented individuals, with different skill sets who are actually fit for the job role.

2. When employees start observing unfair or unequal treatment from the hiring team of their organization, it ultimately decreases their morale and trust, and they start questioning companies fairness.

3. Unfair evaluation of applicants can result in the exclusion of ideal candidates based on factors that are not relevant to their skillsets or education.

4. Biased treatment can damage a company's reputation, and can have a negative impact on it, as applicants or employees might spread information related to the unjust procedures adopted during the hiring process of the company.

a man choosing between 3 things

How to avoid hiring bias?

Following are a few don'ts that organizations should keep in mind, in order to avoid or minimize bias:

1. Standardize the test and interview process

a man taking interview of other person

Assessments, tests, assignments, and interviews are the most important methods to assess a candidate's skills and education. Companies should develop strategies to optimize these methods and eliminate biases from them in order to avoid discrimination and inequality. Following are a few points to keep in mind to eliminate biases and standardized these methods:

1. Craft a standardized set of questions, that is the same for all the applicants. Remove questions related to age or gender, and ask questions that evaluate the skills and qualifications required for the job role.

2. Develop a structured interview process that should be relevant and to the point. Create a diverse group of interviewers representing different perspectives, thinking, and backgrounds.

3. Create valid tests, assignments, and assessments that are fair, free from bias, and do not contain any personal questions or tasks.

2. Complete bias awareness training

a man providing training

The first step is to identify the problem and then provide solutions to them. Educate and train yourself and your hiring team regarding the types, and consequences of hiring bias and how to avoid them. Offer awareness related to recognizing and minimizing the common biases, and the importance of fair and just evaluations.

Find out what specific types of biases needs to be addressed, such as gender, racial, and age bias, through feedback and documentation, and optimize accordingly.

Awareness is the most important point to keep in mind to eliminate hiring bias, and it's an ongoing process, that needs to be analyzed and updated from time to time to help reduce bias in the hiring process.

3. Establish fair scoring method

two individuals scoring a candidate

Evaluate candidates fairly and treat them equally. Define what specific skills, qualifications, experience, or education are required for a particular job role and assess them according to that. Create a scoring system that is equal for each candidate, excluded from discrimination and biases.


What are Halo and Horns Effect?

These effects are the cognitive biases that shape how we evaluate people or things, based on a single characteristic or attribute.

In the halo effect, the recruiter becomes biased by certain positive things about an applicant, by ignoring the red flags, and becomes inclined only toward the positive qualities, such as kindness or intelligence, even without direct proof. They don't care about their university, graduation year, or other important aspects, that greatly affects their overall performance for the job role.

Horn's effect is the opposite of the Halo effect. It takes place, when the whole evaluation of the candidate depends only on an initial negative impression, resulting in a more negative judgment across different attributes. For example, if a person is late due to a traffic issue, only once a month, the company may form a negative impression of their character or personality overall, overlooking their positive aspects and qualities.

rocket flying in the air

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Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier

Hirecinch is one of the best applicant tracking system I have used ever, literally my my job easier