Seven types of interview bias and how to avoid them

Throughout the hiring process, interviewers should aim to ensure fairness, objectivity, and impartiality in order to identify the most fitting candidate for the position. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the different biases that can impact the interview process and actively work towards their elimination. To address this, we have identified seven distinct interview biases and outlined techniques to assist interviewers in avoiding them.

4 mins read
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6 months ago

We tend to think our decisions are rational, but cognitive biases affect us.

What are biases?

Our brain has a limited capacity to process every new piece of information it receives. Therefore, it has evolved quick decision-making mechanisms to process the people, situations, and objects it encounters. These mental shortcuts are essential for survival, but they can also lead to biased opinions when we make hasty judgments without careful evaluation.

Types of interview biases

When conducting interviews, it's crucial to aim for objectivity. However, biases can unconsciously sneak into the process. To prevent this, it's important to recognize the various types of biases that can occur. Here are seven common interview biases that you must be aware of and take active measures to avoid.


Stereotyping is the tendency to oversimplify and form fixed opinions about a group based on limited characteristics.

This issue can negatively impact interviews, as prejudiced perceptions may lead to inaccurate conclusions about a candidate's abilities.

Gender and racial bias

Interviewer bias refers to discrimination against certain genders or races in hiring for a job.

It is crucial for interviewers to maintain impartiality when making hiring decisions, not only to uphold ethical standards but also to prevent legal ramifications for gender or race discrimination.

Confirmation bias

During an interview, confirmation bias may cause the interviewer to ask leading questions that confirm their preconceived beliefs about the interviewee based on their CV or application.

Individuals tend to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and socialize with like-minded people, often without considering other perspectives.

It is essential to refrain from hiring individuals solely based on their alignment with their line managers' perspectives, as this approach can hinder innovation and hinder overall company growth.

Recency bias

Recency bias is evident when interviewers show a preference for candidates who have been interviewed more recently.

If you conduct several job interviews in a day, it's common for the candidates to start blending together, making it challenging to remember each one distinctly. This can lead to recency bias, where you unconsciously favor candidates interviewed towards the end of the day. However, it's important to recognize that the best person for the job may have been interviewed earlier or in the middle of the process.

Similarity bias

Similarity bias, also referred to as affinity bias, occurs when an interviewer makes hiring decisions based on a candidate's physical appearance or shared interests.

For example, during an interview, the interviewer may inquire about the candidate's weekend activities. If the candidate mentions going on a hike with their dog and the interviewer happens to share a passion for hiking and owning a dog, the candidate is more likely to be perceived positively, even before any information about their skills or work-related experience is obtained.

Halo bias

Halo bias refers to the tendency for one positive attribute to overshadow all other qualities of an individual. For example, during an interview, if the interviewer becomes aware that the candidate attended a prestigious university or has a strong background with a reputable brand, they may disproportionately emphasize these positive aspects and disregard any potential negative traits the candidate may have.

Horn bias

At times, interviewers may exhibit a bias known as the "horn bias" that hinders their ability to recognize a candidate's positive attributes. This bias can arise when a negative aspect, such as a spelling error on the candidate's CV, overshadows their valuable skills and abilities. Regrettably, this bias can prevent the interviewer from providing the candidate with a fair opportunity to showcase their capabilities.

How to avoid bias when interviewing

Keep interviews uniform

To ensure fairness and minimize bias during interviews, it is important to ask all candidates the same pertinent questions and diligently record their responses.

Provide training to interviewers

It is essential for interviewers to receive diversity and inclusion training and cultivate the skill to acknowledge and eliminate their own unconscious biases. This will guarantee a fair hiring process for all candidates and aid hiring managers in uncovering any hidden biases they may have.

Have a diverse group of interviewers

Ensuring diversity among interviewers is crucial when multiple interview stages or a group of interviewers is involved. This practice promotes a more balanced decision-making process by mitigating individual biases. With a diverse group, the influence of bias is reduced as each member brings unique perspectives and opinions to the table.

Limit personal chats

To prevent similarity bias, it is advisable to minimize small talk when greeting an interviewee.

Use a standard scoring system

Develop a consistent rating system for interviews to guarantee impartiality in evaluation.

Record and re-play remote interviews

To avoid recency bias during remote interviews, consider recording and replaying them in various orders, with the candidate's consent.

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