What is the stereotyping bias?
Stereotyping is a bias that is deeply rooted in our brains, and we stereotype all the time because our brains are simply wired that way.
To learn more about stereotyping in hiring, we spoke with Organizational Psychologist Mari Järvinen. When asked to define stereotyping, she explained that it basically means we are making assumptions about a category of things or people based on what we’ve learned about that category, and it helps us understand the world quickly and take in a lot of information.
However, stereotyping becomes harmful when it becomes a bias and we’re not aware of it, and we don’t notice when we’re acting on it or being prejudiced.
P.S. You can listen to the full podcast episode with Mari below!
Where in the recruitment process is the stereotyping bias the most prominent?
Stereotyping bias can impact various stages of the hiring process and affect people’s lives in a big way if we’re not aware of how it’s affecting our thinking and decision-making process.
However, it’s most prominent in the following three stages:
- When creating job descriptions. The language used in job descriptions can perpetuate stereotypes and deter qualified candidates from applying. Even certain adjectives, like “strong”, “determined” and “self-reliant” can be perceived as masculine words. Thus, in a way implying that the person for this role is expected to be a man.
- During resume screening. During the resume screening process, the recruiter or hiring manager may unconsciously form stereotypes about candidates based on their name, education, work experience, or even their location. For example, a recruiter may assume that a candidate with a foreign-sounding name may not have good English language skills, or that a candidate from a certain university may be more qualified than a candidate from a less prestigious university.
- Throughout the interview process. Similarly, during the initial candidate assessment, the interviewer may form stereotypes about the candidate’s appearance, body language, or communication style. For example, the interviewer may assume that a candidate who is shy or introverted may not be a good fit for a particular role, even though these traits are not necessarily indicative of job performance.
How can you minimize the impact of stereotyping bias?
Here are four ways you can minimize the impact of stereotyping bias in the hiring process:
- Vocalize stereotypes up front and limit sources of bias by not focusing too much on CVs or other information that might trigger biases.
- In assessments and interviews, ask similar questions every time to avoid being guided by stereotypes and biases.
- Make assumptions based only on the information received and be aware of what is being assumed versus what is known about someone to avoid stereotyping and bias.
- Don’t let assumptions based on national cultures or working cultures in certain countries decide decisions; instead, ask the person and be willing to let the assumption go.