We all have bias. It’s inherent to human connection. We tend to connect better if we have something in common. For example, if we grew up in the same suburb, same city. If we’ve read the same books, play the same sports, have similar dress code and so on.
That’s great when getting to know people as friends; however, in interview situations its often unproductive and can lead to a variety of serious issues from poor job performance to lost revenue.
Cognitive biases are essential. They are a matter of survival. If our brain were not equipped with strategies to break down the world, we would face computational malfunction (or the human brain equivalent) as we could not make sense of all the information hitting our five senses.
However, it is important that we shine a light on the way that biases limit our judgement, perceptions, rationality and how our thinking is intrinsically flawed.
If you can minimise the bias in your recruitment screening processes you are better placed to create a diverse workforce for the future orientating your organisation for a market leading position.
*Image sourced from Medium
An article by Buster Benson discusses how we use a wide range of cognitive biases to strategically address problems our brain is faced with moment to moment, day by day.
1. Information overload
There is simply too much information to process it all. Our senses are bombarded with information constantly, and we have limited attention. Therefore our brain requires means of selecting what information we should focus on that will likely be useful to us now or in the future.
2. Not enough meaning
Now comes turning the information that made it through the above filtering systems into something meaningful. To do this, we connect the dots and fill in the gaps of the information we have taken “with the catalogue of mental models, beliefs, symbols and associations that you’ve stored from previous experiences.” To create stories that make sense of the world in our heads.
3. Not enough time
There isn’t enough time to consider all possibilities, and we need to act fast. To overcome this, we jump to conclusions so that we aren’t paralysed and can move ahead with the information we have. Imagine how long it would take you to choose your lunch if you were to consider all of your options.
4. Not enough memory
The final conundrum is that there is not enough space in our brain to store all “the raw information, all the symbols and stories, and all of the past decisions that we have made.” We constantly are faced with deciding what is worth storing and forgetting. We prefer generalities over specifics and reducing to key elements.
We now know that biases play a vital role in our ability to function as human beings, but they don’t come without problems.
They can cause wrongful judgements to be made against people of a particular ethnicity, colour, gender or age and this can be quite prominent in the world of recruitment where decisions need to be made in haste.
The impact being you miss out on talents that have great skills and culture-add and these features are simply overlooked due to cognitive biases.
Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) put this theory to the test. They carried out The Implicit Association Test aimed at measuring the automatic reflexes when people were presented with particular stimuli in a short time frame. They found 3 in 4 Australians have a negative implicit bias against Indigenous Australians.
What does this mean? Well, a negative implicit bias means a person associates negative terms with the stimuli. In a hire, this would look a lot like a qualified candidate missing out on an opportunity because their name suggests a particular ethnicity. Or, during an interview, assuming someone was incapable of fulfilling the job requirements because of their colour, gender or age.
Some Video Interviewing platforms can help organisations negate and minimise personal bias, increasing their ability to deliver an equitable experience for all candidates. At Alcami Interactive, we offer capabilities such as hiding video and personal details, disguising voice and hiding feedback from other assessors. This all supports a decrease in BIPOC, ethnic, age and gender biases. Our platform also supports independent collaboration to further minimise group think – ensuring the best possible outcome from your recruitment process.
I personally believe this is instrumental in helping organisations to acquire top talent. Currently, 68% of our clients are utilising the Bias features in our platform to help foster a hiring decision without bias. This number is growing, and we highly recommend they be used to find the right person for the role.
Understanding the four problems bias seeks to solve are anchored in the world and will always exist means you can acknowledge that your brain will always necessarily need bias as a coping mechanism.
What you can do is become acquainted with these strategies so that you can reflectively examine the way they make up your perceptions of the world. If we can accept that we are inherently biased, only then can we work on critically examining our decisions and thought processes. It is only when we take an honest inventory of how we might be wrong can we experience a shift in perception as an outcome.
Why not take the Implicit Association Test for yourself. You may find the results surprising.
If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.