Interview Rater Bias . . . Guilty!


When it comes to interviewing candidates for a position within your company, who isn’t guilt of rater bias? The goal of an interview is not to make a hiring decision based on a gut feeling at the conclusion of the interview, but it can be difficult not to listen to your gut. To combat our bias we must ensure that all of our candidates are being fairly treated and fully heard. We need to plan and structure our interview and questions to avoid errors in rating our candidates. To do this, we need to be aware of common interviewer biases. By training ourselves and our managers to be objective during the process, we can make more informed hiring decisions with greater confidence that the applicant turned new hire will remain with the company long-term.  

Common interview biases include:

Similar-to-me: Picking a candidate based on personal characteristics that they share with the interviewer (not related to the job).

First Impression: Your first impression, be it positive or negative, becomes the basis by which you judge the remainder of the interview.

Stereotyping: Forming generalized opinions about how people of a certain gender, religion, or race appear, think, act, feel, or respond.

Halo/Horn Effect: Allowing one strong, highly valued point to overshadow all the other information, or conversely, judging the candidate unfavorably in all areas based on a single trait. 

Cultural Noise: The failure to recognize responses of a candidate that are socially acceptable rather than factual. Candidate responds to questions with answers that are deemed to be “politically correct.”

Negative Emphasis: Rejecting a candidate on the basis of a small amount of negative information 

Other biases not defined above include: inconsistent questioning, non-verbal bias, and contrast effect. So, what can we do to avoid interviewer bias? Let’s check ourselves before going into every interview and leave our biases at the door so that we can hire the candidate best-suited for the job, and not the one that is just like us. Train your managers and supervisors on the dangers of interviewer biases and how to recognize them before they impact the outcome of candidate interviews.