Just know that you may be a bit biased, and it’s likely you’re not even aware of some of your biases. Pretty much everyone has what are known as unconscious biases — stereotypes and attitudes that are impacted by past experiences, even things people have forgotten.
In the context of hiring and selection, unconscious bias can lead your organization to inadvertently overlook great candidates. It can also derail efforts to create a diverse and equitable workforce.
What is unconscious bias?Unconscious bias refers to automatic associations anyone may make involving characteristics such as race, age, gender, disability, height, weight, accent, beliefs derived from prior experiences, even college attended — and how those associations impact interactions with others in those groups.
- Confirmation bias: The tendency to see information as validating a preexisting belief
- Affinity bias: The tendency to favor individuals who share your beliefs, experiences, or appearance
- Halo/horns effect: The tendency to take a look at just one specific trait and end up seeing the person’s overall character as positive or negative
How to reduce the biasBias isn’t inherently right or wrong — it’s a normal part of the way our brains interpret patterns and associations. But you need to pay more attention to what your unconscious brain is up to.
Many companies offer workforce training on recognizing and dealing with biases. To create a more inclusive and welcoming environment, it’s vital for everyone on the team to be aware of their own biases and work to keep them from impacting how they interact with colleagues and customers.
Training and other awareness-raising efforts are not a complete solution, however. There may also be structural issues that open the door to bias. Hiring processes are among those corporate structures that enable bias.
How prevalent is unconscious bias?Research and surveying by PXT Select reflect just how prominent this issue is. In one survey, about nine out of ten respondents identified hiring and selection as the number-one organizational process that could be affected by unconscious bias. Recruitment, promotion, and succession planning are potential trouble spots, too, along with interviewing and résumé screening.
That’s why it’s so important to create structured, data-driven hiring processes. That includes always using clearly defined hiring criteria, tapping into assessments and other rich sources of data, conducting structured interviews, and including interviewers with diverse backgrounds.
Structured processes help hiring managers select the best candidates and reduce the impact of unconscious bias. For example, the data-focused assessments provided through PXT Select yield numerical projections about candidate job fit, steering clear of potentially biased judgments. They also allow interviewers to prepare in a structured manner that’s less likely to be impacted by bias.