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Recruitment and Game Theory

Psychological Biases in Recruitment


I previously wrote about anonymous recruitment and how it can change the game and influence psychological biases in recruitment. On the other hand, considering psychological biases is already a part of responsible recruitment.


Let me clarify from the outset that the term 'bias' bothers me a little. This negatively sounding word, however, refers to statistical biases. That is, there is generally nothing wrong with an individual and their actions, even if they act in accordance with some biases. But it's good to understand that we all have these biases, and it's important to grasp their significance in the final result of recruitment or the actual job performance of the hire.

Here are some psychological biases that can be identified in recruitment:


  1. First Impression: The tendency for people to form quick and often lasting opinions about others based on first impressions. This can lead recruiters to make decisions quickly and overlook important considerations.
  2. Confirmation Bias: The tendency to seek and interpret information in a way that confirms existing beliefs and prejudices. For example, if a recruiter has preconceived notions about the suitability of candidates from a certain background, they may lean towards interpretations that support this view.
  3. Stereotypes: Associating members of certain groups with specific traits or abilities can influence recruitment decisions. For instance, the belief that certain genders or ethnic backgrounds are better suited for specific roles.
  4. Halo and Horns Effect: When the initial impression is overly positive (halo) or negative (horns), it can color the entire evaluation of the person. For example, if an applicant has an excellent educational background, the recruiter may be inclined to overestimate other qualities.
  5. Likeability and Dislikeability Bias: The tendency to favor or reject candidates based on their personality or appearance, rather than objectively assessing their skills and qualifications.
  6. Social Conformity: People may have a tendency to accept or reject an applicant based on what other team members or stakeholders think. This can lead to groupthink and the disregard of dissenting opinions.
  7. Worldview Bias: If a recruiter holds specific beliefs or convictions, they may be inclined to select candidates who share the same worldview.


A structured recruitment process, psychometric testing tools, and practices like the aforementioned anonymous recruitment can help reduce the impact of these biases. Simply being aware of these biases in the recruitment process can also make a difference.




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