Why Unconscious Hiring Bias is Deadly & How to Get Rid of It

Unconscious biases can be poison for a company by capping growth and stunting improvements. Because bias often resides in the parts of our brain we’re not usually aware of it, it can have a powerful impact on how hiring decisions are made.

Want to know more? Let’s dive in.

A recruiter meeting with a potential employee


Understanding how Unconscious Hiring Bias can Still Exist

It’s important to realize how hiring bias can exist in even the most progressive of workplaces.

Let’s take a look at how hiring usually works: your human resources department receives a large number of CVs that they have to look through. After candidates are shortlisted by HR personnel, they are typically then shared with the hiring managers, and interview requests will follow.

Job interviews are usually scheduled for an hour on average. The decision on how to proceed is usually thought to be careful, calculated, and logical. Unfortunately, human psychology suggests that that isn’t always the case. People undoubtedly consciously attempt to make decisions that are logical and purposeful, especially for critical roles, but they often make those decisions based on the information they process unconsciously.

2002 Nobel Prize Recipient Daniel Kahneman’s work shows that people actually make decisions and judgments intuitively all the time, with the logical and conscious part of our brain working slowly to find reasons for why we made the final decision we did. This has clear applications for how we hire, and it may be time to change the protocols for it.

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Why Unconscious Hiring Biases Have to Go!

You may be thinking that if our brain is making these judgments too quickly for us to even notice, how is it our problem? Isn’t it okay if we continue to hire in the same way? The quick answer is no.

There’s actually a lot of research done on the ways that hiring behavior can be affected by ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, age, and much much more.

Name bias, the halo effect, confirmation bias, conformity bias, horns effect, and a range of other biases can work unconsciously but leave you making a recruitment choice that isn’t in your best interests.

Ultimately, what really matters isn’t that you try to compensate for your bias synthetically by hiring people you aren’t on board with. Instead, you need to find a way to stick to well-thought-out, logical hiring criteria and keep the focus on that.

Recommended Read: Hiring for Personality vs. Ability: How do you Choose?

An HR personnel member shaking hands with a candidate


How a Reliable Third-Party Recruitment Firm Can Help

Outsourcing critical fill hiring needs to a reputable search firm can often times be a smart move, tasking a team of professional recruiters to compile a list of qualified candidates for your perusal. When you ask experienced, highly skilled executive recruiters to identify suitable professionals for your company, you gain the benefits from years of experience without the personal biases that likely drove prior hiring decisions. Getting access to a pool of top talent that has been compiled by search professionals and then making your choice within that pool will ensure that any unconscious biases that you may have had in the past will not contaminate current hiring decisions.

As the #1 most recommended recruiting agency in the entire US, International Search Consultants offers expert recruiting services to ensure your team is equipped with highly skilled and experienced professionals. By strategically targeting the top talent that matches your requirements, we will find the perfect fit for your company.

Find out more about our proven track record to get started! You can follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. ISC has been a leader in Executive Recruiting since 1999. You can reach Ann at 888-866-7276 or .

Kara Onorato is Director of ISC’s award winning team of Executive Recruiters. You can reach Kara at 877-316-6249 or .