5 Biases That Will Wreck Your Hiring Process

One of the major aims of a diverse and inclusive organization is the recruitment and hiring of employees that bring diverse difference to the workplace. An honorable objective easier said than done.

The fact of the matter is we can have the best intentions for a diverse and inclusive work setting and yet allow unconscious biases to blind us into thinking we are acting on the best interests of the workplace.

Katy Campbell is the Global Product Manager for DDI Inc. a firm that helps their clients select, develop and retain the best talent.

In her career, she has identified the following 5 behaviors that proliferate hiring biases in our organizations.

Too Conversational
Many interviewers try to put job candidates at ease by asking them personal questions like where are you from, are you married or do you have any kids? While there may be some merit to making the job seeker comfortable, Campbell claims you are setting yourself up to hearing non-job related information that plays into your biases and clouds your judgment about the interviewee.

She recommends hiring decision makers should develop connections with job candidate while avoiding personal questions.

Too Irrelevant
There seems to be a growing trend in job selection these days to ask behavioral interview questions that have nothing to do with the job at hand. They resemble those arcane inquiries asked of beauty pageants finalists:

• If you were a fish, what kind of fish would you be and why?
• Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

While these types of requests may reveal significant information on how the job candidate sees the world or processes information, they require subjective answers that will trigger in-group or out-group bias.

I answered a where do you see yourself question in an interview with the answer to improve the representation, development and retention of American Indians/Alaska Natives in the federal government. Only to find out later that the interviewer interpreted my statement to mean I did not care about other demographic groups in his workplace.

Fit or Fitting In
I abhor the axiom “hiring for cultural fit.” What human capital departments really mean is we are looking for people who fit in. Most times that means selecting job candidates that look like, talk like and think like the current employee mix.

Campbell claims organization should clearly understand the distinction between fit and fitting in. She defines fit as a measure of how much the candidate likes to do the job’s required tasks and resonates with the organization’s mission. Fit is not a one-sided assessment about the job candidate’s potential to fit in with the culture and climate of the workplace.

I have seen this move several times in my federal career where a busy decision maker selects a perspective employee without taking the time to fully vet them. Hiring for a customer service representative by concluding they are a great people person but not interested in details or selecting a manager due to technical experience without confirming the touchy feely relational skills necessary for team leadership?

Flying Solo
Whenever I make a big purchase for our family, I always enlist the views of my wife. As grandma says, two heads are better than one. The same rationale holds for hiring determinations. Why wouldn’t you want multiple cooks contributing to this stew that represents a major investment by your organization? Solo interviewing while efficient can blind a single perspective by missing things another set of eyes could catch.

Want a diverse workplace, avoid the fluff, get real, look in the mirror, think outside the box, don’t take short-cuts and get some help when it comes to hiring. It will pay dividends to our customers and taxpayers who are making hiring decisions about those who serve them as well.

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Dear richard, You just put my point of view in terms of “Fit or Fitting In” which is one of the rule that my recruitment firm- MorgenAll follows. Thank you to come with your experience and give us valuable information.

Kristin MacDonald

The “Too Conversational” items also open you up to an EEOC lawsuit. I work for a fire department and this is the hardest habit to get them to break. We always get the “but we have to live with them” argument.