Recruiters would rather hire people like themselves, especially if the candidate is white and male. That is the conclusion of a new report from the CIPD.
A Head for Hiring: The Behavioural Science of Recruitment argues that recruiters and hiring managers should learn more about insights from behavioural sciences to avoid making hiring decisions based on unconscious bias.
One such unconscious bias is the fact that employers like to hire people like themselves. The report refers to these types of candidates as “Mini-Me’s” after the character from the Austin Powers movie trilogy. It means that hiring managers might hire people who have similar hobbies, experiences and sense of fashion as they have.
The report reveals that both male and female managers tend to favour male candidates over female. It also reveals that CVs where the applicant seems to have a white name gets more call-backs than ethnic minority names do.
Jonny Gifford is a Research Adviser at the CIPD. He says: “So many recruitment decisions are based on a ‘gut-instinct' or what feels intuitively right, and this is a real problem.
“We like to think we can spot talent, but insights from behavioural science show that our decision-making is highly prone to ‘sloppy thinking’ and bias. Even highly trained assessors make systematically different decisions depending on the time of day and their ‘cognitive load’ or ‘brain-strain’ at that point in time.”
Some of the things that may influence such bias are physical factors like the weight of a clipboard that a CV is presented on or how warm the interviewer feels. The decision time could also be a factor. The risk of bias-based decisions increases after just the few candidates. After the fourth candidate, the bias is more prone to kick in.
Gifford says: “Regardless of the level of resources and techniques one has to work with, there are a few steps that employers and recruiters can take to ensure that candidates get a fair recruitment experience ant that employers find the person that best fits the role and can drive business performance.”
The first trick to avoid bias, conscious or not, to influence hiring decisions is spread out the workload. The report suggests that the interviews should be spread out over several days to avoid fatigue but that all other conditions should be kept the same way.
A second trick is to use the interview to collect information, not making decisions. The information should be used afterwards to make the decision.
A third trick is to include people who have not been involved in the interviews in the final decision process.
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