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5 Ways To Reduce Candidate Screening Bias

Screening bias, also known as hiring or recruitment bias, is one of the key obstacles on the road to effective hiring decisions. While HR specialists know about the issue and try to avoid it, it can be hard to battle unconscious prejudice.

If ignored, hiring bias can turn into a serious problem that affects the company's culture, hurting its chances to hire high-potential candidates

While it may seem that unconscious bias is unavoidable, several effective practices exist to keep it to a minimum.

What Is Screening Bias?

Screening bias is forming an opinion about a candidate based on insufficient data that includes first impressions and personal preferences. 

This type of bias has a negative effect on recruitment efforts, diversity practices, company reputation, and workplace environment.

Hiring bias is usually hidden. Recruitment managers don't understand that their reactions are biased. They make hiring decisions based on unconscious feelings, impressions, and impulses.

Types of Screening Bias

The key types of hiring bias are:

  • Confirmation bias: The hiring manager singles out the information that confirms their beliefs and ignores everything else. They continue asking specific questions to support the initial assumption about the candidate.
  • Affinity bias: The hiring manager notices common interests with the candidate and automatically feels positive about them. This keeps the HR expert from making an unbiased decision even if the candidate's skills don't match the requirements.
  • Projective bias: Just as with affinity bias, the HR manager notices that the candidate shares some of their goals and beliefs and automatically decides that this person is a great choice for the company.
  • Expectation anchor: The hiring manager focuses on several key traits and skills that, in their opinion, the candidate must have. When the potential employee fails to demonstrate at least one of them, it immediately sways the expert's decision.
  • Halo (Horn) effect: The hiring manager sees that the candidate excels (lacks) in something and automatically believes that they should be just as good (bad) at everything else.
  • Overconfidence bias: The HR expert is so confident in their ability to hire the right candidate that they fail to screen them properly, thus overlooking possible problems.
  • Comparison bias: The hiring manager compares candidates to other potential or existing employees instead of focusing on their unique suitability for the position.
  • Beauty bias: The hiring manager makes favorable decisions about the candidate simply because of their physical attractiveness. This is one of the hardest biases to overcome since it's deeply wired into the human subconscious.

While recruitment bias comes in many shapes in sizes, all of them can be addressed by several tweaks in the hiring process.  

 – Check out 10 Good Screening Questions To Ask Job Applicants To Learn Surprising Things – 


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How to Avoid Candidate Screening Bias

It's important to understand that eliminating hiring bias completely may not be possible. However, you can minimize it by implementing the following tactics.

1. Automated Pre-Hiring Assessment

Using software to perform initial resume screening keeps your hiring managers from forming an opinion about a candidate at the early stages of the recruitment process. 

This doesn't just help you avoid bias but also allows your recruitment experts to focus on core tasks instead of screening hundreds of resumes.

Additionally, pre-hire digital reference checks, such as Crosschq 360, helps eliminate unconscious bias from the hiring process. By having both the candidate and their references complete surveys developed by IO Psychologists to reduce unconscious bias from the hiring process, Crosschq provides a level playing field for all, as well as an opportunity for the hiring manager to make more informed data-driven hiring decisions.

2. Structured Interviews

During interviews, hiring bias is at its strongest. When the hiring manager comes face-to-face with the candidate, all types of bias can kick in. To keep the interviewer from swaying off the right path, you can implement structured interviews.

In a structured interview, each candidate answers the same set of questions in the same order. The answers are evaluated based on predetermined criteria.

Research shows that structured interviews don't just minimize bias, but they also improve the interview efficiency by 100%.

3. Work Sample Tests

Since actions are louder than words, implement a work sample test in your hiring process. Ask the candidate to perform a sample task that they could be facing at their new job.

The results of a work sample test can make it easier for the hiring manager to make a decision without struggling with beauty, affinity, and projective bias.

– See What the Best Candidate Assessment Tools are and How to Use Them Well. – 

4. Data-Driven Decisions

The right approach to collecting and analyzing data during the hiring process can help your HR experts make proper hiring decisions. 

You can ensure unbiased data management by:

  • Implementing interview scorecards with a transparent scoring system
  • Establishing recruitment metrics
  • Analyzing each candidate's data by using the same hiring criteria

When you have to go through dozens or hundreds of candidates, handling data manually increases bias. AI-powered software such as Crosschq Analytics can speed up the process and minimize prejudice.

5. Awareness Training

To minimize recruitment bias, your hiring managers need to have a clear understanding of what this bias is all about. That's where bias awareness training comes in.

According to Francesca Gino, a professor from Harvard Business School,

"Awareness training is the first step to unraveling unconscious bias."


Helping your HR team identify the "enemy" allows it to ban bias from the recruitment process. During this type of training, hiring experts may also suggest new ways to minimize hiring bias in your workplace.

Let Crosschq Help Reduce Candidate Screening Bias

Unconscious bias is one of the toughest problems hiring managers face when trying to select top candidates. While it's impossible to avoid hiring bias, you can minimize it by implementing several changes in your recruitment process.

High-quality hiring software coupled with awareness training and structured interview practices can help reduce candidate screening bias and improve the quality of hiring decisions.

Learn how Crosschq can help your company reduce screening bias today. Contact us to schedule a demo.  

Amber West

by Amber West

IO Psychology Sales Consultant

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