How to Reduce Interviewer Bias

Vijay Mohan

Various steps are being taken by companies all over the world to ensure better recruiting practices and reduce unconscious bias during the recruitment process. In recent years, almost every company has made diversity and inclusion a top priority in recruitment, as executives seek to add more diverse talent to their teams.

What is interviewer bias in recruitment?

If anyone has a preconceived idea about someone they’re interviewing, it affects their judgement and makes the interview less impartial overall. Although interview bias is most commonly associated with qualitative research, it often applies to recruiting and has an effect on hiring decisions.

In a LinkedIn survey, 42% of respondents said bias of interviewers was a reason for interviews failing as an effective employee selection method.

Interviewing with unconscious bias is not only unequal and divisive, but it also results in poor hiring decisions and high turnover rates. Biased recruiting practices can also lead to legal issues in some cases.

Companies that use equitable and inclusive hiring practices, on the other hand, are more likely to be creative and successful. As a result, when recruiters take action to ensure that recruiting practices are fair and impartial in the recruitment funnel, which helps companies in a variety of ways.

Common interview biases that recruiters should keep in mind:

Cultural Noise

When an interviewee’s answers are based on what the interviewer feels the interviewer wants to hear rather than being truthful, this bias arises. It is a measure of the interviewer’s ability to tell the difference between a candidate’s socially appropriate response and their true opinion in this situation.


Stereotyping Bias

This happens when an interviewer believes a candidate has those characteristics since they belong to a particular party. If a work requires lifting 50 pounds, an interviewer will incorrectly believe that women are unable to meet this requirement.


Generalization Bias

Generalization bias can occur when interviewers assume candidates’ mannerisms in the interview are part of their everyday behaviour. The interviewer might assume what the candidate did once is what s/he would always do.


Halo/Horn Bias

The most common cognitive interview bias occurs when an interviewer allows one strong point about a candidate to overpower or influence anything else he or she says. It may be something he liked (halo) or something he didn’t like (horn) that obscures the candidate’s other responses, subjecting the interview to the interviewer’s subjective views.

The perfect example of this would be when the candidate being interviewed cannot converse well in English.

Even if his or her work may not require fluency in English, if the interviewer bases their decision on it, the interviewee’s performance may be excellent in their field, but the interviewee may still be rejected or approved solely due to a Halo bias.

A situation where the interviewee reveals his or her political viewpoint is another example of halo bias. If it aligns with the interviewer’s political views, the interviewer will choose that candidate over others simply because they share the same political views.

Recency Bias

Since our brains are hardwired to remember specifics of knowledge provided to us most recently, the interviewer remembers the most recently interviewed candidates more vividly than candidates interviewed earlier.

When an interviewer fails to take notes during each interview, it becomes impossible for them to remember every aspect of the interview, making it difficult for them to consider all applicants during the decision-making process.

Contrast Effect

 When a stronger candidate interviews after a weaker candidate, the latter will appear more competent than they are because the difference between the two candidates makes the former appear exceptionally better than they are. This becomes a dilemma that the interviewer must keep in mind as they conduct one interview after another.

eg: Multiple applicants are interviewed one after the other in a limited period of time during campus recruiting. This can impair the recruiter’s ability to interview all applicants objectively, and the interviewer may choose someone who is optimistic about his or her one internship experience over someone who seems timid and reserved but is more skilled.

How can we reduce this?

Start with building a diverse shortlist

Making a diverse shortlist of finalists is an excellent place to start. When introducing applicants to the hiring manager, divide them into various categories to create a diverse shortlist. This can help to minimize unconscious bias because people prefer to choose candidates from each group, resulting in more diverse choices being selected.

You may categorize candidates on a diverse shortlist by gender, nationality, ethnicity, or other similar diversity-related groupings. A Harvard Business Review study found that if your applicant pool only has one woman, she has a statistically zero chance of being recruited.

talent recruitment statistics

Standardize your interview process

Standardizing the interview process so that it has the same framework for and candidate is another perfect way to reduce interviewer bias. To start developing a rapport with a candidate without seeing them, you may want to start with a phone call, as this will help to prevent any prejudice induced by their presence.

Using a talent recruit software like neoHire will aid in this process of standardizing and will lessen the burden on your side. Make it a point to ask the same questions in the same order for and candidate during the phone screening and in-person (or virtual) interview. Bias is much more likely to affect unstructured interviews, while a simple framework makes it much easier to avoid because each interview is comparable. Try to ask open-ended interview questions, as they’re harder to look at subjectively and a better measure of competency.

Prepare interview scorecards

Many recruiters use interview scorecards to effectively rate applicants and make comparisons. Unconscious bias in interviews can be reduced by using interview scorecards with simple scoring criteria. When scoring candidates on interview scorecards, do so as soon as possible when the memories are still fresh.

If you have several interviewers, make sure they all know how to correctly use the interview scorecards so you can get the most out of them. To prevent problems of conformity bias, make sure that everyone rates a candidate before seeing other people’s assessments.

Interview Scorecard - Talent Hiring

Define the job, not the person.

A true job description is a list of things that people must do rather than a list of things that they must possess. If an applicant can demonstrate during the interview that they have effectively handled similar work, it is obvious that they have all of the requisite skills and experience. This is usually not the same as what is listed on the job description. By identifying work as performance goals, you can attract a wider range of talent while also mitigating bias by evaluating a person’s past performance on similar work rather than their presentation skills and first impression.

Use reverse logic.

People are more relaxed when they meet a candidate they like right away, and more tense when this response is negative. Make a mental note of this any time you see a potential candidate. Soon, a trend will emerge. Recognizing your prejudices is the first step in controlling them. The majority of people look for constructive confirming data about people they like and negative confirming facts about people they don’t like.



It goes without saying that we’re all biased from time to time as people, even though it’s not a deliberate decision. However, it’s critical that we consider the numerous prejudices that emerge at various stages of the recruiting process and take the necessary measures to prevent them from influencing hiring and candidate selection.

Online methods of Interviewing and Evaluations such as on our Online recruitment and L&D platform can eliminate bias to a certain extend due to it’s advanced proctoring and auto evaluation features.

Interviewing is an important aspect of the hiring process, but it’s perhaps the most difficult to eliminate prejudice from. Having said that, there are still a number of steps you should take to make the interview process as objective as possible.

So, where do we go from here? You can start eliminating interviewer bias right now if you follow these suggestions and make it a point to educate yourself about best practices on a regular basis.