The HR Professor

The HR Professor

Teaching You How to Navigate the Workplace

Hiring Biases We Need to Get Over

The available candidate pool is tight. It is taking months to fill positions. Yet, hiring managers and recruiters are still holding on to outdated stereotypes and biases that keep them from hiring good people. Here is a list of biases we need to get over so we can build our teams with the strongest members possible:

  1. Age: This should never be a factor in an employment decision, although in reality, I know that older candidates are passed over frequently. Why is this? Do we think they will demand too high of a salary? If you asked what their salary preference is during screenings and it is within range, this shouldn’t be a consideration. Do we think they may retire in a few years? Anyone of any age can resign at any time, and they will. Do we think they will just “coast” in their roles and have no ambition to move up in their career? Frankly, we need solid performers who like their current role as much as we need career climbers.
  2. Employment Gaps: Why is it okay for someone to take a several month sabbatical that their current employer offers but not take time off of work of their own choosing? People may want to travel, spend time with their families, take care of elderly parents, or just take a breather from the stresses of work. Most of us work for 50 years or more of our lives. Yes – 50 years assuming a first job at age 16. I think we all deserve a gap year every so often. In addition, many times, companies have major lay-offs where 1,000s of people lose jobs. Competent people will be cut. It may take some time to find a new job. As long as the person is staying somewhat updated with their profession, we need to stop judging.
  3. Specific Industry Experience: I can understand this one in very specialized industries, but for the most part, finance is finance and HR is HR and operations is operations no matter what industry you are in. Yes. There will be a learning curve, but tell me what new hire (even from the same industry) doesn’t have at least a 3-6 month learning curve. Every organization has different work processes, vendors, software, customers, etc.
  4. Short Tenures at Employers: This one is very controversial for some. I agree that if there is a laundry list of ten jobs that have tenures under a year, there may be a problem. However, if there is a handful of short stints, let’s move on. In the real world, people have bad bosses or join toxic cultures or need to leave in order to be promoted or obtain a higher salary. The days are long gone of people staying at one company for years. So, why don’t we focus more on what was accomplished at each company and what new skills were learned instead of holding a bias that these people cannot keep a job or will leave the company soon after starting. Again, that is always a possibility.
  5. Poor Interview Skills: Interviewing is hard. The pressure is on. Not everyone is the best at speaking in front of groups, especially when they are involved in panel interviews. Sometimes, the interviewers themselves are not very good at putting candidates at ease. So, let’s be kind and open-minded when we are critiquing candidates and not pass them over if they got stuck on one or two questions.
  6. Degree: Look, I value education as much as the next person. I worked hard to earn my degrees. However, not everyone had the life circumstances to go to college immediately after graduating high school. Some may have joined the military, some may have started a family at a young age, some may not have had the grades or finances, or some may have had personal problems that didn’t allow them to focus at that time of their lives. If someone has fifteen or twenty plus years of progressive work-related experience and would be a shoe-in for the role, let’s get over the education requirement and take a chance.

If we can move past these hiring biases, we will position ourselves to compete as employers of choice and will open ourselves to a much larger highly skilled and competent candidate base.

Can you think of any other hiring biases that you have witnessed?

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About Brenda Maday
Portland, OR