How to Avoid Confirmation Bias in Talent Acquisition

Your goal in talent acquisition is, unquestionably, to bring in the best talent possible. The hiring process, in theory, is designed so that you or your hiring team is able to identify, entice, and offer the best candidates in an applicant pool so that they’ll become strong, capable, and long-lasting employees.

{{cta(‘96635f29-d85c-47a9-8e52-333ec4b7480b’)}}However, even the best hiring process isn’t perfect, and one issue that will always preside is the concern for human error. The concern can come from the candidate’s end (maybe they’re unfocused because of an outside distraction, or maybe they don’t feel well), but there is also the issue of an interviewer committing human error. This can come in many forms, but one prominent one is confirmation bias.

What is the Definition of Confirmation Bias?

Confirmation bias, by definition, is someone examining information as a way of validating their belief of something, rather than viewing the information on it’s own merit. In talent acquisition, confirmation bias can occur when a hiring manager or interviewer forms an initial opinion on a candidate and then using the interview process as a way of confirming these beliefs rather than getting to know the candidate.

Just as hiring with your gut can lead to disastrous consequences, so too can having a hiring manager get caught up with an opinion on a candidate before properly getting to know and vet the prospect in question. Not only can confirmation bias lead to poor hiring decisions, it creates a distorted talent acquisition process that not only affects that one candidate, but also any future candidates that will be interviewing for a position.

However, there are methods you can implement to dissipate the concern of confirmation bias:

In the interview process, using specific interview questions to gauge specific skills and traits of a candidate will help reduce confirmation bias, since it forces the interviewer to evaluate the candidate on questions that are predetermined and directly related to the position.

However, one of the most effective methods is to leverage hiring assessments in the talent acquisition process. Through the use of hiring assessments, candidates can be evaluated unbiasedly and have the chance to demonstrate their ability to perform the duties of a position (through job simulations), and show that they possess the work skills and personality traits necessary to succeed (through personality and candidate tests). The use of assessments also enables organizations to collect qualitative data from a candidate’s performance that they can then use to support a decision to hire or not. Furthermore, this enhances the interview process because, with this data in hand, a candidate can be brought in for another in-person interview and the interviewer can ask about any areas of performance that they’d like to learn more about in the candidate’s own words.

To learn more about leveraging the tools you need to make an informed, unbiased hiring decision, download FurstPerson’s whitepaper below on developing a quality of hire report card.