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How Does Unconscious Bias Influence the Hiring Process?

We’re all guilty of unconscious bias. Sometimes referred to as implicit bias, our unconscious bias is what causes us to make snap judgements about people. It stems back through millions of years of evolution. Our snap decisions are what help us categorize the things and people we encounter as familiar or unfamiliar, safe or potentially dangerous. They are programmed into our brains, and they cause all of us – even the most well-intentioned among us – to come to unfair conclusions about the people that we meet within .07 seconds of meeting them.

Beyond split-second reactions, we also have unconscious biases at work in the back of our minds all the time. We tend to categorize people, even people we know well, and make assumptions about them without really having a good reason to do so.

For example, Yale did a study in which participants were asked to look at the qualifications of a person for a lab manager position. All the participants saw the exact same resume, but half the participants saw a male name attached to the resume, and the other half saw a female name. The results? Both male and female participants rated the male candidate as more qualified and were willing to give him a higher starting salary.

The implications for hiring managers are clear. Unconscious bias during hiring can cause diverse candidates to be overlooked, even when they are just as qualified as their white male counterparts.

The first step to combatting unconscious bias is accepting that we all have it. Rather than pretending that we are completely rational, fair, unbiased people, we all need to recognize that we view the world through a certain lens, and that lens has its flaws.

The next step is to actively combat unconscious bias with hiring assessments. Using assessments for hiring lets you strip away prejudices, gut feelings, and other factors that can cause hiring managers to draw unfair conclusions about the people they interview. With assessments, you can discover people’s true talents, their shortcomings, and their potential so that you have an equal, measured basis from which to consider your choices. By limiting unconscious bias, hiring assessments help companies make more diverse, stronger hiring choices.

About Joy Ruhmann
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