4 Ways You’re Biased During Job Interviews

Learn How Your Brain Is Hiring People Before You Even Realize It


You Don’t Even Realize It’s Happening

Let us describe a scene and you tell us if it sounds familiar.

You’re interviewing dozens of people but you’re excited about this next one because she had an unbelievable stat about reeling in two different $20 million accounts last year alone. You meet her face-to-face for the first time and that’s the first thing she brings up, which is great because that’s what you’re interested in the most. And you can’t help but notice that bright purple scarf around her neck that’s brightening up an otherwise dreary day. You laugh at a few of her genuinely funny jokes, and then you notice the last thing on her resume is she’s a season ticket holder for the local NFL team — and you love football! As she leaves, you’re truly sorry to see her go because she was engaging and even asked you a bunch of questions that made you feel important.

Sure she might lack a few skills you’d like her to have and there are still a few more candidates to interview, but you’re pretty sure she’s the one for the job.

If you’ve been through that, don’t worry. You’re not alone. A few key things happened during the job interview with your brain engaging in some behind-closed-doors mental shortcuts without you even realizing it, and POOF — suddenly your mind is made up. But how exactly did that happen? We lay out a few crucial things that took place.


4. Looks Matter

Hiring managers will deny this one until they’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t change the fact that study after study finds attractive people get more employment opportunities and higher salaries.

We’re not saying this is a good thing or admirable in any way. It’s not. People should be hired based on their abilities and qualifications. But the fact remains, there is research out there that attractive people are hired more often and get paid more than their less attractive counterparts. So even though you’re probably not intending to rate potential employees based on their looks, your subconscious takes over and does the sorting for you. Just try to keep that in mind when making final hiring decisions to ensure you’re not taking someone on who can’t do the job.


3. You Feel a Connection

Savvy jobseekers long ago realized one very important thing. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If a candidate is light on experience or lacks the some of the more necessary skills, he might try to form a bond or a connection with you on a personal level to make up for those deficiencies. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, because finding common ground and being able to connect with people can be a very important soft skill depending on the job. However, no matter how likeable and personable he is, try to take a step back before making a decision and see if it’s the personality you like, or the employee. The former might be terrific, but the latter is what really matters to the company. Without the necessary skills, charisma alone isn’t going to cut it.


2. You’re Blinded by What’s First & Last

There’s a reason some of the most memorable scenes in movie history occur right at the beginning and just before the final credits.

Whether you’re a hiring manager reading a resume or conducting a subsequent interview, first impressions are important. Most people only spend a few seconds reading a resume before they make up their mind, and first impressions in person can be made even quicker. So do you really like the candidate in question, or has your opinion been colored by the fact that the first thing he said to you upon meeting was he had the same tie as he complimented your good taste? And since the mind tends to recall recent events first, smart candidates know they need to leave on a positive and memorable note.

Just make sure you’re hiring someone who is solid throughout, not just skilled at making a killer opening impression and a memorable ending.

1. Don’t Be Blinded by the Halo

Human beings are automatically impressed with the biggest and best — even if it only seems that’s the case.

Savvy jobseekers highlight their strengths and put their biggest accomplishments front and center. So maybe you have someone who worked for Google, and you’re impressed because, well, GOOGLE! Or perhaps she’s got involvement with a billion dollar business deal you saw in the news. You’re probably going to get really excited about those things because nationally or globally, they have had importance placed on them and others have cloaked them in prestige. And perhaps it really is impressive, but think it through.

Yes she worked at Google, but notice she’s had six jobs in three years. There might be a reason for that, and it’s not a good one. Or her resume says she brokered the billion dollar deal, but in reality she was only tangentially involved as a junior member of the team who didn’t have a whole lot of input or influence. Just try not to let yourself get blinded by the big accomplishments to the point you automatically assume because she did this one thing, she’ll do everything well. That isn’t always the case.


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