Avoiding Bias When Selecting Workers

Avoiding Bias When Selecting Workers
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When selecting candidates it is important to be aware of any bias in your thinking. Ignoring bias can cost you highly qualified candidates who could benefit your team. Eliminating bias in the selection process will ensure that you find the best employees to increase your talent pool.

Expectancy Effect

The expectancy effect is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy. In scientific circles, it is bias that can contaminate research. In interviews, the expectancy effect is communication that produces “expected results.” People generally live up or down to expectations. For example, an interviewer who makes comments about any concerns regarding lack of work experience communicates that he or she does not expect the candidate’s experience to be adequate. The candidate is not likely to discuss relevant work experience and will meet the interviewer’s expectations.

Primacy Effect

The primacy effect occurs at the beginning of an interaction. The first impression that you have of someone will determine your view of the person in the future. For example, if a candidate is out of breath when he or she arrives and appears flustered because he or she was lost on the way to the interview and afraid of running late, it is easy to assume that the candidate is disorganized and unprepared. This assumption will remain even if the individual manages to answer each question in a calm and prepared manner. The primacy effect can cost companies talented individuals. It is important to look past the initial encounter to determine an individual’s ability to succeed at your organization. Reevaluate your first impression after at least 30 minutes to avoid the ramifications of the primacy effect.

Obtaining Bias Information

Bias information is everywhere. It is possible to create information bias by gathering more information than necessary. If an interviewer takes an immediate dislike to a candidate, he or she may ask questions to uncover negative information about the candidate. These questions can take a negative turn and make it difficult for a candidate to answer honestly. Interviewers may also do the opposite if they have a positive impression of a candidate. In order to prevent bias information, you need to make sure that you use the same interview questions for each candidate.


Stereotyping regularly occurs in and out of the workplace. Stereotyping is making assumptions about someone based because he or she belongs to a certain group. It can occur because of age, sex, religion, ethnicity, political beliefs, accent, region, education, disability, weight, and countless other reasons. In order to be successful in selecting the best talent, it is important to avoid stereotyping and be aware of any stereotypes you may make. Many people are aware of certain stereotypes such as race and gender but not others. For example, a manager may assume that most people from the South are uneducated or that overweight people are lazy.

Case Study

A sales department was consistently performing below standard. The department manager hoped that his employees would exceed his expectations, but they never did. Every day, he would tell them that he wanted them to improve, but would not hold his breath considering their past performances. The employees lived down to his expectation. The manager refused to implement positive expectations because he felt it was a waste of time, and he eventually changed positions.

The next manager used the expectancy theory to his advantage. People felt like he believed in them and worked hard to reach and even exceed his positive expectations. After a year, the department was the top grossing sales division in the company.


More About Employee Recruitment

Introduction to Recruitment
The Selection Process in Recruitment
Types of  Interviews in The Recruiting Process
Types of Interview Questions in The Recruiting Process
Avoiding Bias When Selecting Workers
The Importance of Background Checks in Recruitment


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