Hiring Biases You Need to Be Aware Of

On average, humans make decisions every 2.5 seconds, like you decided to click on a link and read this article. How confident are you that every decision you make is correct and unbiased? Let’s keep the personal life decisions aside and focus on your professional life.

The opportunity to recruit an employee and help to heighten their career is vast, isn’t it? For this responsibility given to you, you’re entitled to be your best and make wise decisions.

Since human brains have unconscious thoughts, and there are times your decision might be biased (even unintentionally), it is better to be aware of the possible slippery slopes you can go down as a hiring manager and be prepared for it. This article will help you understand hiring biases you should be aware of.

Heuristic Bias

The name of this bias speaks for itself, your mind might prefer taking a shortcut in judging the candidate instead of analysing what they are capable of. The shortcuts come in the form of thinking about their looks or appearance instead of deciding their skills.

Here are a few examples that portray heuristic bias.  When a candidate:

  • Has tattoos.
  • Is overweight.
  • Has a name or makes gestures that remind you of someone you are not fond of.

Heuristic bias can make you overlook their capabilities by focusing on the candidate’s appearance.


Anchoring Bias

As a hiring manager or recruiter, you might have the ideal image of your candidate in your mind; after all, that’s how you posted the job description on your job board. Regardless of making sure the candidate you recruit meets the skills mentioned in the job description, expecting the candidate to completely fit the image in your mind is called anchoring bias.

This bias will either lead to recruiting a wrong hire for the position or leave the position open for too long. There is no in-between. The “ideal candidate” image might let you not see both the green and red flags. It’s better to have an open mind and start your interview without expectations.


Halo Effect Bias

Halo effect bias is similar to the anchoring bias. This bias is all about finding a factor or term in the candidate’s resume that is way more convincing before you decide the candidate is perfect for the position.

Factors like a better school or university, or a previously employed company might overshadow every other aspect you need to pay attention to. The single glitter you find in them blurs not just their potential red flags but also the green flags of other candidates you may interview.

Forsaking a particular candidate’s red flags, while ignoring the other candidate’s green flags is not the right thing to do. Let the glitter points be a point of discussion to learn more about their experience, not to decide if they fit into your organisation.


Horn Effect Bias

Now that you know how the halo effect bias works, horn effect bias is the opposite. Any negative trait in your candidate that you just can’t get past. All you can think of is, if the candidate is wrong in this one quality, they must indeed be bad at everything.

You may have realised that the horn effect bias is related to the heuristic bias. As discussed, if any character trait or a candidate’s appearance disturbs you and keeps you from seeing the skills and capabilities of the person, you likely have a horn effect bias.


Confirmation Bias

One decision every 2.5 seconds; that’s how quick humans are bound to make decisions. This proves there are high chances that most decisions are purely judgemental or intention-based, explaining the type of bias you are about to learn now.

This bias basically revolves around you being always right, your intuitions are correct, and your gut feelings are never wrong. The snap decision you make using this bias may have you regret hiring the wrong candidate or letting go of some top talent.


Overconfidence Bias

Overconfidence bias is again related to confirmation bias. You are skilled; hence you are in the position to hire a potential candidate. This might cloud your mind and make you think every decision you make via your intuition is the right one and never goes wrong.


Similarity Attraction Bias

You get along with people with similar interests or backgrounds just like you, don’t you? This trait helps to socialise you or anyone else with other people, which is good. But, when it comes to the hiring process, this bias might make you hire a candidate based on similar interest or that they are same gender, just because your personal interest is satisfied. When this happens, your organisation’s hiring protocol, or ethics, is at stake.


Illusory and Affinity Bias

Illusory and Affinity bias go hand in hand, so let’s explain them under a single topic.

Illusory bias is when you imagine there’s a connection between you and the candidate. This can occur when your questionnaire session goes in-depth about the candidate’s personal life rather than their skills or professional life.

Affinity bias is when you let yourself think that there is a familiar bond between the candidate and yourself just because you both belong to the same school, organisation, or locality.

Common interests or places should be nowhere related to your hiring decisions. Hence keeping personal interest and experience aside when hiring a candidate is mandatory.


Bandwagon Effect Bias

Let’s say there are four people involved in the hiring process. When all three of the other people have similar opinions about a candidate, while you feel otherwise, you should share your thoughts on a candidate as well, be it positive or negative. Staying silent without expressing your opinions because others have different views is Bandwagon effect bias. This doesn’t mean your opinion on the candidate is correct, but all opinions need to be discussed before hiring or rejecting a candidate.


Why Does Hiring Bias Need to Be Taken Care Of?

Now that you are aware of every bias that might interfere with your hiring process, here are a few points summarising why these biases need to be taken care of.

  • It will cost your organisation if you hire the wrong person.
  • Sometimes hiring bias might lead you to face legal issues.
  • The employee bounce rate can increase.
  • Diverse hiring is the right thing for your organisation.
  • Your hiring methods show your ethical responsibility and business sense.



Every bias discussed in the article is interrelated to others. However, you must distinguish every possible bias out there to know them better, so your hiring process isn’t biased.


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