Published On: March 21st, 2024|By |2.4 min read|

No matter how well-meaning we may be, we all bring personal biases to interviews. If those personal leanings are not recognized and addressed, they can lead to poor hiring decisions, which is why it’s critical to understand and take steps to prevent interview bias.

What is interview bias?

Interview bias is any preconception the interviewer brings into an interview that interferes with their objective judgment of the interviewee’s ability to perform the job. Examples include stereotypes and assumptions about whether a particular type of person (race, sex, class, etc.) can do the job well, as well as subtler biases toward people who are attractive, charming, have strong handshakes, or happen to share the interviewer’s interests.

It is important to note that we all have biases that we bring into every interaction—it’s part of being human. The strategies to address interview bias are therefore not about eliminating bias altogether, but rather finding ways to recognize it and prevent it from interfering with good hiring decisions.

How to avoid interview bias

The most important step in avoiding interview bias is to establish clear, objective criteria that you consistently rely on to evaluate job candidates. The focus should be on the essential requirements of the job and the skills a person in the role will need to be successful. Vague concepts like “team player” or “good fit for the culture” are less helpful and can invite bias.

It is also important to use the same list of interview questions for each candidate and make sure every question is asked of every candidate. This helps avoid instances where an interviewer and interviewee connect so well (or so poorly) on a personal level that the interviewee is not asked the same questions as the other candidates. 

A third strategy for reducing bias during interviews is to avoid small talk. This can be counterintuitive, as it is human nature to want to connect over shared interests. However small talk can be harmful because it can lead the interviewer to subconsciously favor candidates who happen to cheer for the same sports team or have the same number of young children.

One more tip: Make sure candidate reviews focus on facts, not opinions. The criteria established at the start of the process should be the focus of the reviews—does the person have the necessary skills? What aspects of their prior experience seems likely to help them succeed, or not? Subjective notes such as “I really liked them” or “They seem like a go-getter” should be avoided because they can be the result of bias

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About the Author: Benjamin Vassallo

Ben is a senior consultant for Insero Talent Solutions, recruiting for direct hire positions including banking, sales, business development, accounting, and more. > Meet Ben


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