How Unconscious Bias Affects Hiring & Five Ways to Reduce It

We all have biases, but it’s essential to recognise that unconscious bias can significantly impact recruitment and hiring. Unconscious bias refers to the hidden assumptions we make about others based on our own experiences, values and preferences.

This type of bias can lead to inequities in the workplace and the exclusion of certain groups of people. We must understand how this kind of bias can affect job opportunities so we can work towards reducing its presence in the hiring process. 

How Unconscious Bias Affects Hiring 

Unconscious bias affects hiring in many ways, from the language used in job postings to decisions made during interviews. Here are some of the most common examples: 

  • Stereotype threat – A potential candidate may feel threatened by stereotypes attached to their gender or race, which could prevent them from applying for a job or doing well during an interview.
  • Unbalanced applicant pools – Diversity initiatives are often necessary to ensure that all qualified candidates have an equal chance of being hired.
  • Language barriers – People who speak English as a second language may be excluded from job postings if the language is not tailored appropriately.
  • Cultural differences – Candidates with different cultural backgrounds may be met with surprise or judgment due to their beliefs and values being other than those of the interviewer. 

Dealing with the above issues requires that we increase our awareness of unconscious bias and take proactive steps to reduce it. 

Five Ways to Reduce Unconscious Bias in the Hiring Process 

Here are some tips on hiring without bias so that everyone has an equal chance: 

  • Increase diversity in your applicant pool by actively seeking out diverse candidates through targeted recruiting efforts. A diverse applicant pool will give you an excellent selection of qualified candidates and increase your chances of finding the best person for the job. Dealing with unconscious bias begins with you, so make sure your hiring team is diverse.
  • Create a diverse team of recruiters who bring different perspectives when evaluating candidates. Having a mix of people from different backgrounds on the recruiting team can help reduce bias in hiring decisions, as each member can see potential candidates from many angles.
  • Provide training on unconscious bias for both recruiters and managers involved in the hiring process. By increasing awareness about how our biases affect job seeking and interviewing, everyone involved in recruitment can work together to ensure all candidates are given an equal opportunity.
  • Make sure job postings are clear and free of discriminatory language. It’s great to pay attention to words used in job postings, as they can create unnecessary barriers and deter specific candidates.
  • Ask situational questions to improve hiring decisions and avoid making assumptions about candidates. Open-ended questions will allow candidates to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a specific situation rather than relying on subjective opinions.

Taking steps to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process can help create an environment of fairness and inclusion for all applicants, allowing you to find the best person for the job.


Unconscious bias has been found to influence recruitment decisions, leading to unfair outcomes for some applicants.

Employers must recognise these biases and take steps towards reducing them so that everyone has an equal chance at success regardless of race, gender, or cultural background.

With various unconscious bias examples existing in the hiring process, employers can create a more equitable recruitment system by focusing on diversity and providing training on bias reduction. Taking these steps will ensure that all applicants have an equal chance and help create a diverse and vibrant workplace.

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