How Tech Can Eliminate Confirmation Bias In Human Resource Management
There was a trend about a decade ago where everyone was talking about “the law of attraction.” This came from a metaphysical school of thought where it was believed that if you behaved like good things were going to happen, they would. A friend of mine attempted to take advantage of this, following a tip to write herself a check with the belief that it would channel “financial growth energy” towards her. Then, her aunt died, left her an inheritance, and she felt terrible, blaming herself and the law of attraction. The thing she didn’t get was that the law of attraction didn’t work because it was “channeling financial growth,” it worked because of confirmation bias. Any amount of money she’d received after her law of attraction exercise would have been used to confirm her belief in something she wanted to believe.
This is something that also happens in the business world, and especially in the hiring process. Instead of making accurate decisions, we seek out evidence to confirm decisions we’ve already made, possibly prematurely. Candidate vetting technology may be a solution to fixing this while maintaining the personal touch needed in hiring.
Recognizing Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias isn’t something that’s inherently good or bad. It’s just an automatic reaction that happens based on our own personal point of view. It has more to do with ourselves and our mood at the time of deciding.
Consider an HR manager who’s just started the process of recruiting for a highly specialized IT position. It’s so highly specialized in fact, that the HR manager believes they should use a headhunter, rather than handle it in-house. Despite the HR manager’s opinion, management tells them to do the hiring themselves. The first resume the HR manager opens is not a viable candidate. The HR manager’s belief that they’ll never find a qualified candidate is confirmed even though they’ve only looked at one resume out of hundreds.
We all engage in confirmation bias in some way. This kind of thinking is common. However, when we allow confirmation bias to continue to impact our thinking, it can lead to problems, including:
- Reduced threat perception – One of the biggest risks that stems from confirmation bias is that you fail to see threats because you’re not expecting any. As an example, a person may trust a personal referral from a friend because they want to believe that person is trustworthy. As a result, they’re more likely to be lax about the questions they ask or the vetting steps they take because they don’t want to find anything bad.
- Unfounded optimism/pessimism – Pessimism tends to breed more pessimism and the same goes for optimism. A pessimistic person can use confirmation bias to confirm their own poor mental state. Consider the case of the hiring manager, who doesn’t believe they’ll be able to find a qualified candidate. As the search goes on, they may intentionally seek out things in resumes that will disqualify a candidate in order to maintain that pessimism.
- Lost opportunities – The lost opportunities to hire can hurt, especially in a climate where there are shortages in many specialized fields. Confirmation bias can cause managers to overlook skills that might make up for other less impressive parts of the resume.
Confirmation bias is difficult to eliminate as most of the time, people aren’t conscious of it. Instead, they take their beliefs at face value without examining them further. A way to work around this could be to use technology to help thin the herd and make hiring easier.
Using Triaging Technology In Human Resource Management
Everyone knows that the biggest challenge most hiring managers face is volume. Some studies report managers receive as many as 100 resumes for every open position. Scaling a process like that means turning to technology. Here are a few options to consider:
- Online portfolio sites – LinkedIn isn’t the only site designed for business networking. Individuals in specialized positions have their own portfolio platforms where prospective employers can browse through profiles and invite people to apply for jobs. This reverses the hiring process, which allows these managers to target certain applicants rather than get flooded with resumes.
- Social media integration – Social media can be a great resource for learning more about a candidate on a personal level. By integrating this into the hiring process, companies can see job histories, education, and gain significant insight into the individual’s activities.
- Graduated screening tools – Triaging technology is often written off as simple resume filtering programs, but there’s more to it than that. Companies can use graduated screening programs that will take candidates through applications, tests, and short interviews. The process moves them on through each step automatically as they pass, before the hiring manager ever even sees the resume.
- Remote Risk Assessment – Verifying credentials can be done pre-interview through RRA. This is a process where candidates complete a short phone interview to help verify the accuracy of their application via “yes” or “no” answers. A series of proprietary signals processes then measure their response to assess for risk. That score could then be used to prioritize candidate screenings.
While a human touch is always going to be needed in hiring, this needs to be scaled. People may have biases that only get confirmed when faced with the daunting task of finding the perfect candidate out of hundreds, or even thousands, of applications. By thinning out the stack, they can get the best possible candidates the most efficient way possible.
Clearspeed provides RRA as a hiring solution that closes the gap between technology and human bias that could result in poor hiring decisions. This technology can be used at any location, in any language, and provides highly accurate results. For more information on this, contact us.
Image Source | Unsplash user Chris Davis