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Hiring Advice Attracting candidates Boost Your Recruitment Process! Here Are 5 Effective Tips to Reduce First Impression Bias
Boost Your Recruitment Process! Here Are 5 Effective Tips to Reduce First Impression Bias

Boost Your Recruitment Process! Here Are 5 Effective Tips to Reduce First Impression Bias

How can employers ensure an efficient hiring process? Read our tips to reduce first impression bias here.

Although workplace diversity and inclusion are top priorities in today's hiring process, many employers are still prone to snap judgements. You may come to assumptions about a candidate's attractiveness, competence, and aggressiveness at the first meeting. It can affect your ability to hire qualified, diverse candidates. So, what can be done to reduce first impressions bias in your hiring process?

What is a first impression bias, and why is it important?

Everyone creates first impressions. It's your brain's clever way of using shortcuts to make quick judgments. First impression bias is how human beings are influenced by the limited information they are exposed to. These unconscious observations or assumptions can affect your feedback or decision-making process.

First impressions can carry on throughout the whole hiring process. Studies have shown that four out of five hiring decisions are made within the first 10 minutes of an interview. Focusing on a candidate's surface-level attributes rather than their skills or experience can lead to bad hiring decisions

The Impact of Unconscious Biases When Hiring

Biases impact your judgement as an employer. First impression bias is crucial in the hiring process. Making a hiring decision based solely on a first impression could negatively affect your company or team's culture. If your biases go unchecked, you can miss out on skilled talents that can diversify your workforce.

It's essential to take practical steps to reduce bias in the workplace. From the initial handshake to opinions on a particular area of concern, how you initially see those things can make or break a candidate's chances. The more aware you are of the potential biases during your hiring process, the more you will be able to overcome them.  

Here are a few first impression bias examples that can occur during the hiring process:

Stereotyping Stereotyping is a generalised belief about a group of people based on their social category, gender, or race. It can cloud judgement when establishing a candidate's competencies based on stereotypes.

Hiring situation: When you're looking for a candidate for an IT position, you may be biased toward male candidates since IT is a male-dominated field

Confirmation bias In hiring, confirmation bias can happen when an employer has an initial perception about a candidate rather than evaluating data objectively. This can lead to asking irrelevant interview questions to confirm the initial perception.

Hiring situation: When considering a candidate for a sales position, you might only consider candidates with a lot of sales experience. You may overlook other candidates who might have little sales experience but have other qualities that would succeed in the role.

Recency effect Recency bias happens when recalling something which has occurred recently compared to something that happened a while ago. When you're presented with a lot of information quickly, the information you gathered only yesterday may seem the best because it's easier to recall.

Hiring situation: Employers are prone to recency bias, especially if reviewing multiple resumes and conducting interviews. You may fall into the trap of having better recollections of the last candidate interviewed. It leaves other candidates at a disadvantage since neither discussion sets the standard.

Similarity attraction Human beings are naturally drawn to people like themselves. As an employer, you may confuse this with finding a candidate fitting into your work culture. A culture-fit candidate is desirable, but it can also lead to similarity bias that can lessen the diversity of your workforce.

Hiring situation: If a candidate graduated from the same school you came from, you are automatically attracted to their application. This is because you know the environment and educational background they have. You hold your degree to a high standard, but it has nothing to do with the candidate's ability to do the job successfully.

Tips to Reduce First Impression Bias During the Hiring Process

First-impression biases are inevitable and not consistently accurate. There are ways you can effectively reduce it to improve your hiring process. You want to ensure you're giving candidates equal evaluation to correctly identify the best candidates and be objective.

Anonymise CVs and applications A CV is your first interaction with a candidate. Their name, photo, or address can influence your opinion more than you realise. One way to address this is to anonymise candidates' CVs. This way, you can remove factors that can lead to biased decisions.

For example, you can use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to help you reduce potential bias and speed up recruitment. You can use keywords to assess candidates' skills without colouring any judgements. It is also an efficient way to standardise your recruitment process, where you can view applications in the same format.

Standardised your interview process First impression bias can influence the flow of your job interview process. You might find it hard not to small talk and ask unnecessary questions that can contribute to your first impression. This can lead to unstructured interviews and make it harder to benchmark candidates.

You can avoid this by having a set of standard questions. Standardising your interview questions creates a level playing field for your candidates. All your interviews will follow the same format, leaving less room for bias to influence the process.

Conduct an initial phone interview Before you schedule a face-to-face or on-cam interview, consider conducting a phone interview first. Phone interviews reduce any first impression bias based on physical appearance or body language. This is a great way to establish an initial connection that will allow you to focus on their skills and experience.

Phone interviews can also help screen candidates efficiently and help you save time. It will ensure you'll only grant a face-to-face interview to the best candidates with an excellent chance of being hired. It also highlights the communication skill of a candidate — an important transferable skill of a candidate.

Introduce skills testing Another way of reducing bias in your hiring process is requiring your candidates to take assessments. Using skills testing or situational assessments prevents you from preferences during the hiring process. It will provide you with data on the candidates' competency and motivation. 

A skill test will require you to examine a candidate's work performance rather than their appearance, gender, age, or personality. It gives you an objective insight into job candidates and the implementation of employees. It will help to ensure that your hiring decision is based on reason and evidence.

Use a panel of interviewers If you are unsure about your bias, gather an interview panel to help you out. A diverse set of individuals provides a broader perspective and can reduce biases. It can help ensure impartiality during the hiring process.

First impressions are different for each person. One interviewer is unlikely to affect the others similarly, which means a more balanced and informed decision. It makes your hiring process collaborative and promotes engagement among your existing workforce.

Reducing first impression bias may seem like a feat when unconsciously doing it. Recognising your biases is essential so it doesn't impact your hiring process. Awareness and a solid objective will help you reduce the impact of first-impression bias in hiring.

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