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The Average Person Makes 35,000 Choices Per Day

As humans the way we think is largely shaped by various unconscious biases which ultimately influence the way we perceive reality.

In an ideal world, hiring decisions would be based solely on ability.

A pragmatic, objective approach would be taken, free of subjectivity.

We don’t live in an ideal world, and even when we try, outside factors sometimes cloud our judgement.

According to CareerBuilder, almost three-quarters of companies who made a bad hire reported an average of $14,900 in wasted money. With 74% of employers stating they hired the wrong person for the job.

Unconscious bias happens whether we want it to or not, it’s unconscious.


Confirmation Bias We tend to make snap judgments based on our perceived truths, then justify our biases afterwards, subconsciously or not. We ask irrelevant questions to elicit answers that support our initial assumptions.

We do this because we want to believe that our instincts and assessment of the candidate are accurate. In fact, 60% of interviewers will make a decision about a candidate’s suitability within 15 minutes of meeting them. Some will have done it before the interview even happens.

The obvious danger here is that we could be passing over great candidates for reasons not grounded on facts.


Affect heuristics The affect heuristic is a type of mental shortcut in which people make decisions that are heavily influenced by their current emotions. For example, deciding someone with obvious tattoos, piercings, someone overweight, someone who is older are all incompetent because you don’t like that particular trait or aspect of their persona.


Expectation anchor The expectation anchor bias refers to when we allow ourselves to make decisions based on one piece of information about a candidate.

For example, hiring managers will not accept anyone other than a carbon copy of the role’s predecessor for the job. As a result, most candidates are immediately discounted as they don’t meet the recruiter’s unrealistic expectations.


Contrast effect / judgement bias The process of sifting through resumes takes a long time, and we are prone to compare the latest resume to the previous one rather than allowing it to stand on its own merits.

In doing so we are merely moving the goalposts with each new resume sift. Instead of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a job based on the skills and attributes displayed in their resume, we compare them with others.


Ways to mitigate your bias: Why do we see this applicant this way? Could our “norms” or assumptions be factors? Do we have the information we need to make this conclusion? Is this conclusion evidence-based? Have we considered all perspectives? Be consistent and transparent in your hiring process. Create a standardized interview guide and ensure you ask every candidate the same questions.

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