Hiring Bias and 10 Ways to Prevent It

Hiring Bias and 10 Ways to Prevent It

December 14, 2021 -

A diverse company is a strong company. Whether it be race, gender, age, or skillset, (4)having a diverse team comes with many advantages. These advantages can include increased innovation, greater employee engagement, increased profitability and more. Unfortunately, most people aren’t strangers to unconscious biases, which can get in the way of how we make decisions, in this case, how and who we choose to hire.


What is hiring bias?

Because bias can be very implicit, it often goes undetected. As a result, candidates with particular backgrounds receive preferential treatment during the hiring process. This is how homogenized workplaces start. Ultimately hiring bias is discriminatory and can obstruct a company’s diversity goals.


Common types of hiring bias



Gender bias is a preference for candidates who fit a specific gender or perceived gender identity. For example, hiring only male candidates as engineers or only hiring female nurses because you believe they are more nurturing.


Race and ethnicity

Choosing to hire or not hire a candidate due to their skin colour, heritage or the language they speak. This bias can be implicit and is present in more homogenized companies.



The assumption that a candidate is more or less capable of a job position based on their age.


Name bias

Passing up a candidate because their name is difficult to read or pronounce. Name bias is often linked to prejudice against certain races and ethnicities.


Sexual orientation

Some individuals hold unconscious bias concerning sexual orientation and make hiring decisions based on candidates they perceive match their own orientation.


Religious bias

While religion has nothing to do with the ability to perform a job, this bias can affect or prevent decisions to give time off for holidays or religious practices like prayer.


Confirmation bias

When a recruiter already has a preconceived idea about a candidate and finds rationale to support this preconception.


Horn effect

This occurs when a hiring manager is fixated on a negative trait that is irrelevant to performance ability. This can look like a hiring manager perceiving a candidate with tattoos as a trouble-maker or unable to perform the job.


Halo effect

As opposed to the horn effect, the halo effect prioritizes a candidate’s positive attributes unrelated to the job. A hiring manager is so consumed with these positive traits that they are blind to any red flags or gaps in their resume. A possible example is hiring a candidate based on their alma mater.


Similar-to-me effect

The most common bias, however, it can go hand-in-hand with any of the above. When a recruiter gravitates to candidates who resemble them physically or behaviourally is referred to as the similar-to-me effect.


Strategies to reduce bias


Check yourself

The first step is checking your own biases. Evaluate and understand what biases you and your team may have and how these affect your hiring decisions. Many online resources, such as Project Implicit, created by Harvard psychologists, can measure your bias through a standardized test. While no one wants to think they have any prejudice or bias, it’s essential, to be honest with yourself and challenge your way of thinking.


Cross-functional hiring team

A diverse hiring team can bring in various perspectives that ensure you’re impartial when assessing candidates. If this poses a challenge, that already is an indicator of how you can improve diversity in your company.


Define diversity and set goals

With your hiring team, assess the company for gaps and what representation lacks. Based on your findings, set goals and create an action plan. Creating concrete goals puts the issue front and center, openly acknowledging what improvement is needed.


Job descriptions

Without knowing it, certain language we use every day can actually exclude different groups of people. When writing your job description, consider how your words might impact someone’s decision to apply to your company. (5)Your job description is one of the first impressions a candidate has of the company, and whether intended or not, language can have a negative effect. After writing your description go through and see how alternative words can change its impact.


Going in blind

To ensure your focus is solely aimed at qualifications and skills rather than demographics, scrub the applications of any non-essential information. This information might be schools, name, age etc. This levels the playing field and ensures you accept resumes based on job compatibility alone.


Unsure how to do this? Many software can do this, like Pinpoint, Textio and Blendoor.


Phone screenings

As the first step of the interview process, consider beginning with (6)phone screenings. Implementing phone screenings is a great strategy to avoid superficial biases during your first impression of a candidate.


Skill tests

Pre-employment skill tests can mimic tasks the candidate will be expected to do on the job. Implementing a skill test forces recruiters to objectively compare candidates based on their quality of work rather than appearance, gender, age and other non-job-related qualities.


Standardized interviews 

Prepare consistent interview questions to ask all candidates; this way, you can directly compare answers. It’s natural to want to build rapport with a candidate and go off-script but keep the foundation of your interview questions standardized.


Be sure to take detailed notes of candidates’ answers and your interaction with them. Our memories have a habit of failing us, and your implicit bias might find itself getting in the way of making impartial decisions.


Education sessions

Host town halls to have open and candid discussions about reducing bias in the hiring process and the workplace in general. You can also invite guest speakers to give talks or lead workshops covering diversity, inclusion and equity. You can set diversity goals but taking genuine initiative involves investing time and money.


Don’t always trust your gut

Sadly, that “gut” feeling we like to rely on isn’t always so reliable. Our biases can often drive this feeling. Instead of going with your instinct, implement some of the above methods and see how it changes your decisions.


About Live Assets | IT Staffing Solutions

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We are a small, but productive team that works closely together and has had a 96% success rate for the past number of years!

We have a diverse number of clients and industries and focus on both full-time and contract I.T. opportunities.

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