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Job Interview Tips

9 Interviewer Biases Every Jobseeker Needs to Watch Out For

By Kalibrr Content Hub on August 5, 2015

Interviewers have a significant responsibility in building a highly competent team, workforce, and company. The challenge is to make the “hire or no-hire” decision based objectively on all the information gathered about the applicant - test results, resumes, references, and interviews.

However, even trained interviewers are people too.

Try as they might to be objective, biases may creep into interviews. Unfortunately, this tendency to be subjective might reduce the objectivity of the selection process - and directly affect your future. For the company, subjectivity reduces the reliability and effectiveness of the selection process, meaning the quality of the hires and ultimately, company business performance.

Biases occur when interviewers make inappropriate selection choices by misinterpreting the information they receive from interviews. This may occur by choice, be unintentional or even subconscious. The best scenario you could hope for as a jobseeker is a) one where none of these biases affect your chances of getting the job, or b) one where the biases do affect your chances, but positively.

As an interviewee, it's useful to know what these biases may be so you can avoid being a victim of unnecessary judgement. Turning it around, it's also possible to use these biases as life hacks - use them to your advantage and you might just convince your interviewer that you're the person for the job. Of course, once you get the job you'll be expected to perform well so make sure that you can walk your talk confidently.

Here are a few interviewer biases to watch for as a jobseeker and an interviewer, from the Kalibrr team:

  • Similar to me: Selecting candidates based on personal characteristics that they share with you, the interviewer, rather than job-related criteria. Example: You are seen positively because you have something similar with the interviewer – same college, or degree or personal interest.
  • First impression error: Making snap judgments. This is why they say the first impression, whether positive or negative, counts. Research has shown that interviewers tend to make a judgment about a candidate within the first five minutes of the interview. How they perceive you off the bat could cloud the entire interview. Example: Giving more credit because the candidate graduated from the interviewer's alma mater rather than to the applicant's knowledge, skills, or abilities.
  • Inconsistency in questioning: Asking different questions of different candidates. An example would be exclusively asking Filipino male candidates to describe their successes on previous sports teams, and asking only Filipina candidates what are their plans are for marriage and having children.
  • Halo effect: The interviewer allows one strong point that he or she values highly to overshadow all other information.
  • Horn effect: The opposite of halo effect, this is when the interviewer judges the applicant unfavorably in all areas based on one negative point
  • Stereotyping: Forming generalized opinions about how people of a given gender or orientation, religion, or race appear, think, act, feel, or respond.
  • Non verbal bias: This is when undue emphasis is placed on nonverbal cues that are unrelated to job performance such as distracting mannerisms, physical appearance, or physical disability
  • Contrast effect: This largely has to do with who comes before or after you on the candidate line. Strong candidates who interview after weak ones may appear even more qualified than they actually are because of the contrast and vice versa.
  • Cultural noise: This is when the interviewer fails to recognize responses of a candidate which are socially acceptable but not necessarily factual. The candidate may give responses that are "politically correct" and thus acceptable, but not very revealing about who they are. These answers may seem alright but they don't really reveal the candidate’s actual match for the job.

Knowing these, next time you get turned down for a job offer, try to examine if it was a bias, if something in the way you performed in your interview could be changed, or if your resume needs work.

Interviewer biases are another factor to look at in the job hunt but remember, the most important one is what you bring to the table. Everything else is out of your control except how you present yourself on Judgement Day aka, your interview.

If you have more questions on interviewer biases, let us know in the comments below.

For interviewers, know that deploying reliable selection tools can reduce biases. Check out Kalibrr’s online assessment catalog and stay tuned for more information on structured interviewing techniques.