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    Hiring Bias and Anonymous Applications


    Having recently read an interesting article on hiring bias in the New Scientist we decided to share our views on this subject with you.

    The article explained the use of a system, which forgoes CV’s, instead asking candidates to answer five online questions that relate specifically to the job for which they are applying. Multiple recruiters then evaluate the replies without knowing which came from which candidate. If the same candidate’s CVs were submitted the candidates which were assessed using this system came from a wider set of universities and had a broader range of skills.

    The Institute for Employment Studies in Brighton, UK however felt that anonymised applications were not a “magic bullet” against discrimination and it might just postpone discrimination until the interview stage. There is also a theory that if applicants’ CVs are stripped of details such as name, gender and nationality, they were less likely to hire minority candidates. This is because the companies were already more likely to hire minority candidates and anonymising CVs made it harder for them to take their background into account.

    Interviewing is often the gateway toan organization and is the singularly most relied upon form of candidate assessment. Yet, there is quite a lot of academic and professional debate as to how effective interviews are at predicting the subsequent performance of candidates who are awarded the job.

    So, why are interviews such a poor predictor of performance? Researchers have suggested that as a result of interviews being a personal exchange between people, there is huge room for social factors – that are not related to the candidate’s ability to do the job – to unintentionally influence the evaluation of that candidate and subsequent hiring decision.

    There are many types of interviewer bias and we have outlined three of the more prominent ones.

    1. Confirmation Bias: This is a tendency to seek out information that supports a pre-conceived belief about the applicant that has been formed prior to the interview. (Phillips and Dipboye, 1989). This means interviewers look to confirm a possibly shallow impression they may have formed of the candidate pre-interview, as opposed to having a more open outlook on the candidate’s abilities in this area.
    2. Affective Heuristic: This is where interviewers’ decisions are influenced by quick and superficial evaluations, such as: the level of attractiveness of a candidate, race, gender, background, etc.—none of which are relevant to the candidate’s suitability for the role. (Postuma and others, 2002). One study found that applicant obesity actually accounted for 35 percent of the variance in hiring decisions.
    3. Intuition: a huge part of the candidate evaluation process is based on intuition as there is not enough data to objectively test every area of the candidate’s fit to the culture and demands of the job. The problem is that intuition is not reliable, as it is thought to be susceptible to factors not related to the hiring decision such as emotion, memory, etc.


    How We Overcome Interview Bias:

    At MWA we strive to eliminate hiring bias by our use of the Adler Performance-based method of hiring. Performance-based Hiring is a comprehensive and validated methodology that integrates sourcing, screening, interviewing, and recruiting into a seamless approach based on how passive candidates look for, compare, and accept one position over another.

    Passive candidates are looking for growth, challenge, and learning opportunities – not just another job. Since most are already-employed, they may be reluctant to fill out long applications, take online tests, or wade through job board postings. And while they’ll explore new opportunities, their process is different than that of the typical active candidate. To attract and hire from this talent pool, an organization’s sourcing, interviewing, and recruiting processes must change – this is what Performance-based Hiring is all about.


    Performance-based Hiring is a business process for acquiring top talent. At MWA we use an in-depth process to eliminate hiring bias and ensure the most relevant candidate is placed by our clients.

    When discussing the opportunity with potential candidates we place particular emphasis on career stretch (activities in year one) and career growth (activities beyond year one) to determine a corresponding fit to the candidates’ expectations. In our experience, these aspects are important to a passive candidate who needs convincing that a job move will provide greater career opportunities and quality of life over and above their current position. We ensure there is project specific content to the role we are hiring for and this detail will drive our interview process. For example, if a client requires an expert in opposition work, this would form the basis of our interview. Some interviewers will do a chronological review of a candidates’ career which does not always arrive at the core of a candidates’ client-related experience, whereas at MWA we tailor our interview according to our clients’ requirements.

    If you would like discuss any of the above or your recruitment needs with us, please do not hesitate to contact Kieron Wright on +44 113 391 0862.




    1. Adler (
    2. Reynolds, New Scientist Magazine, February 23, 2017 Issue
    3. Philips & Dipboye, 1989 Postu et al, 2002


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