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By advithul Jul 15, 2013 1230 Words
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Submitted By
Advithi Dilip


Job interviews are critical to the quality of an organization's people. Good job interviews processes and methods increase the quality of people in an organization. Poor job interviews methods result in poor selection, which undermines organizational capabilities, wastes management time, and increases staff turnover. Many interviewers and interviewees are keenly interested in 'tough' interview questions and certainly interviewees need to prepare answers for 'tough' questions. However, from the interviewer's perspective asking 'tough' questions is not usually helpful. Interviews should not place undue pressure on interviewees, because people tend to withdraw and become defensive under pressure. We learn more about people when they relax. It's better therefore to focus on 'good' interview questions rather than 'tough' ones. Good interview questions encourage interviewees to think about themselves and to give the interviewer clear and revealing information as to the interviewee's needs, capabilities, experience, personality, and suitability for the job. The best interview questions are therefore the questions which most help interviewees to reveal their skills, knowledge, attitudes, and feelings to the interviewer. Interview Biases

Biased questions asked during a job interview raise the possibility of costly litigation, bad publicity or loss of business due to discrimination in hiring practices. Reducing bias means asking questions only about the applicant's qualifications and avoiding questions that indicate preferences concerning factors that don't affect his ability to do the job.

Some of the common interview biases are:
* Stereotyping and Generalizing Bias
* Contrasting
* Halo effect bias
* Horn effect bias
* Recency bias and Like attracts Like bias
* Gut feeling bias
* Cultural noise bias
* Non-verbal bias
Preparing to avoid bias during recruitment decisions and job interviews is essential as all humans are biased in one way or another. Bias can come, either from cultural conditioning or from hyperactive sensibilities. We need to ensure that our biases are not illegal or discriminatory, and that they do not affect our decisions to the detriment of company needs. Keeping that in mind, and actively working to remove bias in job interviews, not only helps us to do our job better as a recruiter, but also helps to save our company from any litigation that might arise. The Indian Constitution guarantees equality as ‘Fundamental Rights’. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or any of them. Personally, the recruiter too would be categorized and identified with certain groups and traits. But as long as the recruiter is focused on questions which absolutely and only relate to clear organizational interests and job skills, bias can be kept at a minimum.

Methods to overcome 3 common interview biases from interviewee point of view 1. Stereotyping and Generalizing bias
Stereotyping Bias occurs when the interviewer assumes a candidate has specific traits because they are a member of a group. If job requirements include lifting 50 pounds, an interviewer might inaccurately assume women cannot meet the requirement. Similarly, the Generalization Bias can occur when interviewers assume a mannerism of the candidate in the interview is part of his every day behavior. For example, candidates who are nervous in the interview can be generalized as always nervous. An interviewer might generalize that a candidate lacks written communication skills because of last two people hired from the same college had poor written communication skills. If the interviewee thinks some assumption will be made about him like this, he must be sure to casually mention how he has met similar requirements in the past. Alternatively, he can ask towards the end of the interview if there are any particular requirements that they are concerned he may not meet.

2. The Halo effect Bias
The Halo Effect occurs when something about a job applicant creates a favorable first impression on the interviewer. This can be shared in the interview or be a physical attribute. Once this takes place, the interviewer may not be able to view the candidate's suitability for the job objectively. The interviewer might, for example, find the applicant's manner, accent or appearance pleasing, or might discover that he or she attended the same school as the applicant. This bias can actually help the candidate, as long as a positive attribute stands out that happens to appeal to the interviewer. It pays to know a bit about the interviewer ahead of time to know his or her likes and dislikes and work history.

3. Cultural Noise Bias
Cultural Noise Bias occurs when candidates answer questions based on information they think will get them the job. Basically, they say what they think the interviewer wants to hear. For example, a candidate might say she likes working as part of a team if the interviewer stresses teamwork as a requirement The interviewee must be careful not to trigger this bias by providing obvious "pleasing" responses. He should be able to use examples that respond to what he hears during the interview. In the example above, the reply must not be that he is a team player -- instead he must provide stories that relate to how he worked well on teams.

Methods to overcome common interview biases from interviewer point of view * The interviewer must be absolutely sure of the job role that is going to be filled and the responsibilities associated with it, so that he can prepare a proper questionnaire that focuses on the purpose of the interview. Such questions would naturally be around topics like skills, work-experience, etcetera, but would not include questions about the ancestry of the interviewee * To keep interviews unbiased, the interviewer must keep all questions related to the job and never move into any personal territory. He must not ask any question where the information in the answer is irrelevant to the recruitment decision. Common questions like asking about marital status or about children can land one in trouble. Before one sits on an interview board, it must be made sure that all disability related questions are disables – only questions about abilities related to the job must be focused on. * A questionnaire or a script must be created and for all interviewees for the same job role, the same set of questions must be asked. * Remember written evidence excludes oral evidence, so all notes you take at an interview and everything you write down can be scrutinized later on to draw a conclusion of bias. Be careful. It is not good practice at job interviews to note down or record your opinions in place of the information provided by the interviewee. * Treat everyone with respect, so that no one walks away with a special grudge.


What one needs to keep absolutely in mind is that a job interview is conducted to find out whether the candidate has the skills and abilities to perform the job role adequately. Problems start to appear when one moves away to other areas from this central focus of judging skills, abilities and attributes needed for the job role at hand. To keep bias to a minimum or to root it out altogether during job interview processes, recruiters need to research, be aware of latest stances of the courts on anti-discrimination, learn what can be asked as well as what cannot be asked in an interview, and discuss and share the knowledge among interviewers.

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