Managers feel biased when interviewing

Just a third of managers report feeling confident they are not prejudiced when hiring staff, according to a controversial new study. Close to half admitted bias affects their candidate choice, while a further 20% said they could not be sure they acted without bias when recruiting.

Around three-quarters of respondents reported witnessing discrimination during the course of a recruitment process, while a quarter said they observed discrimination during recruitment on a regular basis.

We all have personal preferences so it’s no surprise that bias creeps into the interview but this research shows that an alarming number of managers are actively ruling out candidates based on factors that are discriminatory – education, accent or gender.

One in 10 respondents admitted they would avoid hiring a woman applying for a male-dominated role, and a similar proportion said they would be reluctant to recruit a recently married woman, as they were more likely to go on maternity leave soon. A fifth of managers said they would overlook a pregnant candidate.

Employers need to be as effective as possible at attracting talent from all parts of society, and recruiters have an important role to play in challenging old-fashioned practices, and should promote open and transparent selection. Recruiters are uniquely placed to guide employers on how to attract and retain talent, as well as offer support to diverse candidates.

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