unconscious bias in recruiting

Ten Common Examples of Unconscious Bias in Recruiting

Posted in: Hiring Salespeople

When you make any decision, your social background, values, and life experiences influence your reasoning. Biases help you make day-to-day decisions that align with your goals. But in recruiting salespeople, this process can lead to unconscious bias, which wrongly influences who you hire.

Unconscious bias in recruiting can lead to various problems, including hiring the wrong people for the job, discrimination against certain groups, and poorer employee morale.

Recognizing and preventing unconscious bias when recruiting is essential for any business.

Ten Common Examples of Unconscious Bias in Recruiting


Affinity bias means you unconsciously prefer people like you. Face it; we all want to be around people with similar interests, personalities, schooling, etc. While an applicant differs from you, they could be just as talented and friendly as those that are like you. Maybe better.


Beauty bias refers to physical appearance. Many of us place too much value on how a candidate looks. We unconsciously think they look the part. However, the adage about the book and the cover is genuine. Don’t judge applicants on appearance.


Conformity bias occurs when you allow the views of others to influence your view. If you interview a candidate as a group and everyone else likes the person, you will likely agree, even if you have doubts.


Confirmation bias happens when you search for evidence to support your opinion. This type of bias leads to selective observation. For example, they went to a university you rate highly. You may look for examples confirming your high regard for the school they attended.

Racial or Ethnic

Racial or ethnic bias means preferring one race or ethnic group over another. Some people have strong beliefs about race and stereotypes. We may unconsciously favor a candidate because of their race and the qualities we associate with it.


Gender bias means preferring one gender over the other. Some folks have strong beliefs about gender roles and stereotypes. We may unconsciously favor a candidate because of their gender and the qualities we associate with it. For example, we may think a man is better suited for a grueling travel schedule.

Halo / Horn

Halo / Horn bias effect happens when we focus on one particular feature of a candidate. If you view everything about the person in a positive ‘halo’ light, you see them as better than they are. For example, they work for a competitor, and you want to hire them. You may overlook that they lack even basic selling skills. The horn effect means focusing on a negative attribute that shades all other information.


Anchor bias means hiring managers rely too much on the first piece of information they receive. Example: If you discover the applicant has a high IQ, you will interpret everything through that filter.


Order bias relates to the order you interview individuals. Research shows that hiring managers will likely remember candidates they interview first and last. In contrast, managers are likely to forget candidates interviewed in the middle.

Cultural Noise

Cultural noise bias happens when candidates respond to a question according to what they think the interviewer wants to hear. For example, the candidate may claim to be a team player because the interviewer stressed the importance of teamwork on the job. When in actuality, the candidate is a maverick.

The Results of Removing Unconscious Bias in Recruiting

A Deloitte study shows that removing unconscious bias increases hiring top performers by 25-46%. And by doing your first screening on an audio-only call, you’ll reduce the risk of being accused of anything.

Unconscious bias in recruiting harms all companies. Recognizing and preventing it is essential for creating an equitable work environment and ensuring you get the best talent.

By implementing proper policies, automation, and training, companies can ensure they hire people based solely on their skills and experience, not gender, race, or ethnicity. That way, everyone has an equal opportunity to get the job.

How to Reduce Unconscious Bias in Recruiting

At the end of the day, making hiring decisions with awareness and understanding is essential for any successful business. Doing so will help you make better, data-driven decisions and hire people from various backgrounds.

It’s also essential to take into account your company culture when recruiting. Understand the values, aspirations, and goals of your company. Use those to create criteria for recruiting that reflect and match your organization’s culture. This way, you can more accurately assess a candidate’s suitability and ensure they would fit your team well.

Recruiting is an essential step in any business – make sure you start it right. By understanding and avoiding the common examples of unconscious bias in recruiting, you’ll hire better people who fit into your team. And that leads to success!

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