How Stereotyping Can Hurt Your Ability to Hire

The human brain is constantly stereotyping. They’re called “schemas” – connections that the brain makes in order to go through life with some idea of what to expect. Without these stereotypes, dark alleys would look as safe as bright public streets, and someone coming up at you with a knife would cause no more fear as a chef cooking sushi in front of you.

We do need schemes in order to not spend hours upon hours trying to figure out how to interpret everything we encounter in life. But when it comes to hiring, schemes can actually hold us back.

Productivity is Not Always Visible

You need to hire as objectively as possible. Yet this can be extremely difficult because you’ve created these stereotypes inside of your mind about what makes the right employee. These stereotypes are based on previous hiring practices, subconscious biases, the previous person employed at the position and more. Some of these biases you may even realise you have – for example, many people hiring for sales jobs look for someone that controls a room and is actively outgoing.

Others you may be completely oblivious to because your responses feel normal. Someone that fits your subconscious and bias view of what the “right employee” will be is always going to seem like the right employee, and liking them is going to feel completely unbiased – it’s going to feel natural, because your mind has created stereotypes about what you’re looking for.

Unfortunately, this can prevent you from finding the right employee. You don’t necessarily care about the person’s clothes, the way they look, their personality, etc. (although this does play a role in some jobs). What you care about is whether or not they’re going to be productive, and provide you with the skills the role needs.

How to Improve Objectivity

The best way to improve objectivity in your hiring processes is to use tools that objectively test performance. At Recruit Shop, for example, we use intelligence and skill based testing tools to provide an objective framework that discovers what the person is genuinely capable of.

You can also interview on knowledge and skill based questions to get a better idea of their genuine knowledge. You can also try techniques to better understand your own biases in order to eliminate them. Learn how to recognise your own first impressions, for example. If upon seeing the candidate you already like them, chances are you have some schema that are causing you to feel that way.

Eliminating Bias Isn’t Easy

This isn’t something that you’ll be able to master overnight, and in some cases, your biases may actually help you spot a candidate – especially when those biases are based on visible, recognisable criteria. But again, the trick is to make sure that you’re not overvaluing these stereotypes at the expense of a better employee elsewhere. That’s why trained recruiters can be so valuable, as their experience has taught them to ignore first impressions and make a judgment based on objective, measurable criteria instead.

Contact us at Recruit Shop today to learn more.

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