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Role of Unconscious Bias in Interview Quality: How to Mitigate Bias in the Hiring Process

  • By Ankush Jhawar
  • April 24, 2023
  • 5 mins read
The Role of Unconscious Bias in Interview Quality: How to Mitigate Bias in the Hiring Process, Unbiased Interviews
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    The hiring process can have a significant impact on the quality of the workforce, but many organizations may not be aware of the biases they are unconsciously carrying out. These biases can lead to unfair assessments of candidates, which can hurt the hiring process itself. In this blog, we will explore the role of unconscious bias in interview quality: how to mitigate bias in the hiring process. By understanding the impact of unconscious bias and taking proactive steps to address it, we can create a more inclusive and diverse workforce that accurately reflects the skills and potential of all candidates.

    What is Unconscious Bias?

    Unconscious bias refers to the automatic and unintentional mental associations and attitudes that people hold towards certain individuals or groups, often based on factors such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Our biases are shaped by our own experiences, societal norms, and cultural messages. They can affect our attitudes, perceptions, and actions without us even realizing it. Unintended discrimination and inequality can occur in hiring, promotion, and evaluation due to unconscious bias affecting our choices and behavior. Understanding and addressing unconscious bias is critical to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace.

    Types of Unconscious Bias in the Interview Process

    Several types of unconscious bias can impact the interview process. These include:

    • Affinity bias: As mentioned earlier, affinity bias occurs when interviewers favor candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of race, gender, or background.
    • Confirmation bias: This occurs when interviewers focus on information that confirms their existing beliefs about a candidate and ignore information that contradicts those beliefs.
    • Halo/Horn Effect: The halo effect occurs when interviewers form a positive overall impression of a candidate based on one positive attribute, while the horn effect occurs when interviewers form a negative overall impression of a candidate based on one negative attribute.
    • Attribution bias: It occurs when interviewers attribute a candidate’s success or failure to their characteristics rather than external factors.

    The Impact of Unconscious Bias in the Interview Process

    Unconscious bias can impact the interview process in various ways. For instance, it can lead to interviewers favoring candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of race, gender, or background. This type of bias is known as affinity bias and can lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace. Additionally, unconscious bias can lead to stereotype threat, where candidates feel pressure to confirm stereotypes about their group, leading to self-doubt and underperformance.

    How to Mitigate Unconscious Bias in the Interview Process

    Fortunately, there are several steps that organizations can take to mitigate unconscious bias during the interview process. Here are some strategies:

    1. Standardize the Interview Process: Standardizing the interview process can help reduce the impact of unconscious bias. Interviewers can focus on the candidate’s qualifications and skills rather than their background or characteristics by having a set of standardized questions and evaluation criteria.
    2. Train Interviewers on Unconscious Bias: Providing training to interviewers on unconscious bias can help raise awareness and reduce the impact of biases during the interview process. Interviewers can learn about the different types of bias and strategies for mitigating them.
    3. Diversify Interview Panels: Having a diverse interview panel can help reduce the impact of unconscious bias. A diverse panel can provide different perspectives and help reduce affinity bias. Additionally, having a diverse panel can help create a more inclusive workplace.
    4. Blind Resume Screening: Blind resume screening involves removing identifying information such as name, gender, and race from resumes. This can help reduce the impact of unconscious bias during the initial screening process.

    Note: Read more about some best ways to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process.

    The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Hiring Process

    Diversity and inclusion are important values in any organization, and the hiring process is an important opportunity to promote these values. A diverse workforce can bring various perspectives and skills to an organization, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. In contrast, a lack of diversity can lead to a workplace where everyone is similar, which can lead to groupthink and reduced innovation.

    A lack of diversity in the workplace can lead to a loss in profits for companies. Studies have shown that companies with greater diversity in their workforce are more likely to have higher profits than those without diversity. An inclusive workplace is one in which everyone is treated fairly and with respect. This can be done by creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up and voicing their opinions and has the same opportunities for advancement.

    One way to promote diversity and inclusion during the hiring process is to make sure that job postings and recruitment efforts are inclusive of a wide range of candidates. This can include using inclusive language in job postings, partnering with organizations that support diverse candidates, and promoting job openings on social media platforms that are popular with diverse communities.

    You can read more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the interview process.

    Using Technology to Mitigate Unconscious Bias

    Technology can be used to help eliminate unconscious bias during the interview process. Some companies use video interviews with pre-recorded questions to avoid the impact of affinity bias. Others use machine learning algorithms to analyze candidate responses and identify any language that may indicate bias. However, it’s important to make sure that these technologies are used ethically and without bias. Learn more about tools to reduce bias in interviews.

    Conducting Post-Interview Evaluations

    After interviewing candidates, it’s important to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies used to reduce unconscious bias after the interviews. Organizations can collect feedback from interviewers and candidates, and use this information to improve their hiring process continually.


    In conclusion, unconscious bias can significantly impact the quality of interviews and ultimately the hiring process. Biases can occur for several reasons, including the candidate’s gender, race, ethnicity, age, or educational background. These biases can lead to unfair hiring decisions that do not accurately reflect a candidate’s qualifications and potential.

    Organizations can take several steps to mitigate unconscious bias in the hiring process. These may include:

    • Providing unconscious bias training to interviewers.
    • Using structured interview questions and evaluation criteria.
    • Diversifying interview panels.
    • Using blind resume reviews.
    • Monitoring the hiring process for bias.

    These strategies can help organizations make better hiring decisions, which can lead to a more diverse and build inclusive workplace culture.  Ultimately, addressing unconscious bias in the hiring process is crucial for promoting equity and ensuring that all candidates have an equal opportunity to succeed.

    People also ask

    • What is the role of unconscious bias in the workplace?

    Unconscious bias is a hidden influence on our perceptions, decisions, and actions in the workplace. It can often hurt our productivity and careers. These biases may influence how people interact with coworkers, make hiring decisions, and lack diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace. Understanding the impact of unconscious prejudice and addressing it can contribute to a more equal and inclusive workplace.

    • What are 3 ways to reduce bias?

    Three ways to reduce bias are:

    1. Awareness and education: Becoming aware of our biases and educating ourselves on the impact of bias can help reduce their influence.
    2. Diversifying perspectives: Including a diverse range of perspectives in decision-making processes can reduce bias and lead to more inclusive and equitable outcomes.
    3. Using objective criteria: Using objective criteria to evaluate candidates can help reduce bias in hiring and promotion decisions.
    • What are the benefits of unconscious bias training?

    Unconscious bias training can help individuals better understand their own biases, and help them make more informed decisions. It can also help create a more inclusive and diverse workplace. This training can help employees recognize their own biases and understand how they may be affecting their interactions with others. It can also help them develop strategies to mitigate those biases. Additionally, it can improve communication and collaboration among colleagues with different backgrounds and perspectives, leading to better problem-solving and innovation.

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