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Are Your Interviewers Scuppering Your Growth Plans?

Bias in Interviewing

If you are in a corporate leadership role you know that your financial results and company performance is down to one thing – people. You have growth targets and ambitions forecasted years into the future and you know that to meet those targets and expectations you need ‘people’ to deliver.

Let’s look at some simple hiring stats. The average company will lose 10% of it’s workforce each year through poaching, retirement, boredom, clash of personalities, maternity leave etc. Most companies that are doing well also need to grow and growth can mean another 5% or more of hires required. Each year your company may have to hire 15% of it’s workforce number. In a company of 1000 that is 150 people each year. If the average company interviews 5 people for each job that is 750 interviews a year. That’s a lot of work and decisions to get right!

But even if the hires are made there is no magic that can be applied to make the new hires perform, particularly if your interviewing team has hired badly.

There are two stages where your hiring can go badly wrong. Hiring badly starts with the candidate shortlist selection made at the CV review stage and gets another jolt of bad recruitment at the interview stage.

The main reason is bias. Both conscious and sub-conscious bias, present in the minds of your interviewers.

Here is how Bias Influences Decision Making

Read through this part of a fictional CV:


Oxford University


Business and Finance

Grade: 2:1


Finance Director


Large Multinational


Rugby, triathlon training

Now, listen back to yourself as you read each line, what are you saying in your head about each piece of information.

Here are some samples of biased thinking I have collected from a sample of interviewers:

‘Oh, Oxford, he must be smart! That’s just who we need.’

‘Why didn’t he get a 1st? I got a 1st, he can’t be as intelligent as me.’

‘Thank goodness he is in a large company not an SME.’

‘I hate rugby, I bet he’s stuck up, I really don’t think he’ll fit in.’

‘Triathlons! How cool, he must be very energised! We need high energy in this job.’

Your thoughts can be very different to these samples depending on your life experiences and what you have been taught to believe about each fact. This is where you show your bias. Can you see how none of these thoughts have any bearing on how the person can do their job and yet they are influencing the interviewers mindset, which will influence their decision.

Bias leads to bad decisions being made by your interviewers. Just because an interviewer went to the same college they will look more favourably on the candidate, or if the candidate attended a college they wished they had gone to, such as Harvard, they will put the candidate on a pedestal.

These academic factors have no impact on whether the person is good in their job.

Likewise, if the candidate went to college they feel is inferior to their own college they will immediately think the person is not as intelligent and will be more negative in appraising them. Even though they could have been working in your competitor in a similar role and doing a great job.

Subtle things, like perfume or shoe colour, can also affect an interviewer’s judgement, through their own sub-concious bias:

‘Oh she is wearing flat shoes, for an interview! How strange is she!’

‘Why is he wearing brown shoes! Only people in Insurance wear brown shoes, he won’t fit in here’

‘Mmm that perfume reminds me of my perfume, we must be similar, I can imagine working with her, I’m sure we’d get along.’

‘I love his tie and suit co-ordination, he looks so professional, I am sure he would do a great job here!’

You can’t deny that you too have heard yourself saying similar appraising thoughts in your mind when you have met someone for the first time. It is human nature to want to find similarities in others that we feel match our own ideals in life. We love people who are like ourselves, it makes us feel safe. But you are the leader of a growing company.

If you want to hire people to perform well, you must make sure your interviewers are not hiring 'best friends'!

As part of our structured interviewer training programme we can show your interviewers how to recognise bias in their interview and selection methods and what they have to do when they catch themselves being biased so they make the best hiring decision possible for the company.

Our Interviewer Coaching is certified and can be held on site or off-site. It takes 6 hours to train your team and is followed by an assessment. Once your interviewing team is trained you can relax knowing the decisions being made are in the best interests of your company rather than their own personal interests.

If you want more information on our training, let’s arrange a call to discuss it and I can go through the details with you.


'We help companies attract the best candidates and retain them.'

#interviewertraining #interviewing #interviewprocess #bias #interviewbias

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