BACK TO TOP

Bias – how to avoid common interview mistakes

Excuse me, your interview bias is showing

Do you think you’re good at judging people? You are, but probably not in the way you think…

Interview bias comes from us leading complicated lives and from nature. Nature has given us neurological shortcuts so we don’t have to relearn everything as we go.

For example, when we encounter a closed door, we don’t need to consciously think: What is this? What is it for? Why is it here? or How does it work? Instead, we grab the handle and walk through (perhaps with a little push/pull confusion on the way!)

Similar shortcuts are in operation when we interact with other people.

When we interview to bring new employees on board, we are able to quickly assess a person based on our past experiences and conditioning. This usually goes on beyond our awareness. Efficient but not always accurate!

For more than two decades Project Implicit, based at Harvard University, has been tracking a whole range of our hidden prejudicial associations.

Curious about my own ‘prejudicial associations’, I decided to try one of their Implicit Association Tests (IATs). Being a feminist, mother of two girls, businesswoman and teacher, I thought I’d be pretty safe trying a test called ‘Gender-Career’. Imagine my surprise (actually, horror!) when I found my results showed that I strongly associated men with careers and women with family life.

Implicit interview bias appears in the majority of the population. At least I’m not alone. And most of us don’t even know we are biased against certain groups.

How is this significant in business?

Our hidden prejudices predict how we respond to others. They may have an impact on:

  • deciding on the best applicant for a role
  • evaluating others’ work performance
  • how friendly and inclusive we are toward different team members

Tip: Job interviews are a notoriously inaccurate way to predict workplace behaviour, even when conducted by experts. Listen to Episode 6 of the Work Wonders podcast for some examples of questions with inbuilt bias.

What the work of Project Implicit indicates is that without using objective measures of job fit, we may be relying on judgements we aren’t even aware of and can’t control.

Could you use an objective opinion on staffing issues? We’re here to help!

 

Are you curious about your own interview bias?

Why not visit Project Implicit online? You’ll find a range of tests to choose from!

 

Cover photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM FIML
Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What they say about us

"Wow, what can I say…. I found the Harrison reports to provide remarkable insights into your preferred behaviours and how you cope with stress. This is an invaluable tool for any business owner who wishes to maximise the use of their human capital, and I can highly recommend the use of Harrison Assessments reports with Susan's debrief. It simply works! 😊"

- Christopher Cachia, CEO and Principal, CCA Financial Planning

"Coaching with Ben gave me a great opportunity to reflect and explore strategies, tips, and tools to improve ways of working and to work through opportunities & challenges. I really valued the focused discussion on specific areas to support my growth and development. I highly recommend working with Ben."

- Manager, National NFP

"In a challenging role in a new organisation, coaching with Paula was the ideal time to reflect, problem-solve, brainstorm options and arm me with next steps in all areas - from staffing, internal politics and relationships to tackling key initiatives. The sessions were by video and face to face, both equally effective. Using video allowed for easy integration of sessions into my busy workdays without any hassle. Paula’s style of coaching quickly built trust so I felt safe being vulnerable, quickly getting to the heart of a number of issues and propelling me and my performance forward significantly!"

- Executive GM, People and Culture

"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. ​"

Jessica Hill - Head of People and Culture, Choice

"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."

Chris Bulmer - National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia

"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead employee and team development sessions."

Shaun Stanfield - Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

Join our community