5 Candidate Qualities That Destroy Unconscious Bias

Shifting Interviewer Subjectivity to Objective Decision Making

Though it has been a long struggle – one that is not yet over – unconscious bias is more understood and recognized by hiring firms. Nevertheless, it is likely that you will experience it in your search for a new position. How you deal with it could be the factor that compels a hiring manager to make you a job offer.

Everyone Has Unconscious Biases

Before we look at the qualities you should demonstrate to mitigate an interviewer’s unconscious bias, it’s worth noting that everyone holds unconscious biases.

Your biases are dictated by your upbringing, your education, your beliefs, and your values. They are ingrained through formative years and beyond. They become a part of who you are.

Biases are not just about race or gender. Your deep-seated beliefs may include implicit bias against body type, education and qualifications, age, disability, religious beliefs, nationality, sexual orientation, tattoos… the list is endless.

The Issue for Candidates

There are outcomes of unconscious bias that are problematic for job candidates.

The first is that unconscious bias can dictate how an interviewer perceives the candidate. Left unchallenged by the interviewee, this can rule a candidate out before they even get to speak.

The second, and one which is not widely recognized, is the unconscious bias of the candidate themselves. This can lead to candidates not applying for jobs for which they are ideal, or to reject a job offer that they should accept.

Let’s deal with the second of these issues first.

Recognizing and Eliminating Your Unconscious Bias

Your unconscious bias is a determinant of your behavior. Your actions become unintentional consequences of your subconscious thoughts. This could make you act in ways that you shouldn’t or that you would rather not during an interview.

For example, you agree with something the interviewer says though you believe it to be wrong – and the interviewer would rather you challenge an idea. Or you answer questions from a female interviewer in more patronizing language. Or you consider a young manager unsuitable to interview someone with your experience.

Your unconscious bias can also lead you to make a bad choice when presented with a job offer. Your intuition tells you this job isn’t for you, and so you reject it. Even though the job is perfect for you. It’s the dark side of unconscious bias.

To be more intentional during your interview and make better decisions, boost your self-awareness. Learn about your implicit biases. An online test like the Harvard Project Implicit Test is a great place to start.

With better knowledge about yourself, take time to analyze situations before acting. Think about what you are about to do or say before acting.

Mitigating Unconscious Bias of Interviewers

Your interviewer is likely to hold unconscious biases. These may affect you. They may not. You don’t know. The brevity of their conversation may be their natural communication technique.

The best way for you to make allowance for potential unconscious bias of the interviewer is to focus on demonstrating that you are the best candidate:

  • Ensure you don’t allow your own implicit bias to affect your interview performance
  • Focus on confirming you have the skills and experience that make you ideal for this role

Here are five qualities that will mitigate for the unconscious bias of the interviewer.

1.    Motivation

Let the interviewer know that you fit in with the hiring organization’s culture. Show in your answers to questions that you are motivated and flexible, and willing to learn new skills as required.

2.    The right mix of skills and experience

Be confident about your skillset, and demonstrate how you can deliver to the needs of the role. Prepare answers to questions that demonstrate how you have delivered value to previous employers and worked collaboratively with others. Be specific, highlighting numbers and successes.

3.    Honesty

Don’t try to ‘wing it’. Be honest about your achievements, and your strengths and weaknesses. Show how you identify where you need to improve, and describe how you have improved in the past (mentorship or training, for example).

4.    Teamwork

Teamwork is increasing in importance for hiring organizations. Prepare examples of how you have helped your team to progress toward its goals. In the post-COVID world, demonstrate how you collaborate despite the challenges of dispersed team members working from home.

5.    Curiosity

Show that you are curious about the world in which we live and the industry in which you operate. Demonstrate your commercial awareness, your creative problem-solving, and your yearning for learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the interview to show that you care and that you think critically.

In Summary

There will be people involved in the hiring process who are unaware of their unconscious biases. You cannot allow these to affect you. Improve your self-awareness to remove unconscious bias from your behavior. This will allow you to act more intentionally and purposefully as you demonstrate that you are the best candidate, moving the interviewer from unconscious subjectivity to conscious objectivity in their decision making.

To assess your career as a recruitment consultant and evaluate your skills, it’s often best to speak to an unbiased party. For help with this, and a confidential career assessment, contact EnabledForce today.

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