Are Recruiting Biases Causing You to Overlook the Best Candidates?

A recruiting bias can impact the quality and variety of new hires that you bring into your company. Recruiting biases are thought patterns, conscious or subconscious, that cause you to make judgments about a candidate — positive or negative — without objectively evaluating all the facts. A wide range of potential biases exist. Here’s a closer look at some of the more common ones and how they can impact your overall recruiting process quality.

Resume Errors
Many HR professionals argue that the resume alone is a terrible tool to base the entire recruiting process on. As a tool to determine if a candidate meets the minimum qualifications for a particular job, a resume can be helpful. But there are many ways that the resume itself can subconsciously bias recruiters or interviewers against a candidate.

One of the most common is a resume error. Errors can be introduced into a resume in the form of misspellings, grammatical mistakes, or even common usage errors. When a recruiter notices an error like this, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about a candidate’s attention to detail, ability to communicate effectively, or educational background. Immediately dismissing any candidate because of a resume error may cause you to overlook a strong contributor.

College-Related Biases
Many companies have a strong history of recruiting from specific schools. Perhaps they’ve had good luck identifying strong workers from specific programs and trust the quality of those educational institutions’ graduates. Other biases regarding colleges occur when a recruiter or hiring manager prioritizes their own alma mater or when interviewers are awed by seeing distinguished colleges such as Harvard, Stanford, or MIT. As a result, their recruiting may be biased toward those schools. Yet, by opening up your recruiting to other institutions, they may get a higher quality or greater diversity in candidates.

Branded Company Experience
For some companies, there’s an assumed bias that if an applicant has work experience at a Fortune 500 company, they’re a great candidate. Branded company experience can signal several things, including deep industry experience, high performance, and investments in training and education by the previous employer. But it may also mean that a specific candidate is used to working within the support structures of very large companies and may struggle at smaller businesses or those with a more entrepreneurial culture. Candidates that have worked at smaller or medium-sized companies may have had the opportunity to take on more responsibility, advance faster in their careers, or to develop a deeper level of specialized knowledge.

Overcoming Recruiting Biases
There are many ways to overcome recruiting biases. The first is to have a well-defined recruiting process that’s supported by a modern applicant-tracking system and an up-to-date job description. The second is using technology strategically. Finally, use tools within the applicant-tracking system, such as job board postings and social media promotion, to expand the field of candidates that you’re attracting. Being aware of potential biases; addressing them systematically can help ensure predispositions aren’t getting in the way of objective hiring of top qualified candidates.

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