Seven types of interview bias and how to avoid them

During the hiring process, interviewers must strive to be fair, objective, and unbiased in order to select the most suitable candidate for the job. However, to achieve this goal, it is important to recognize the various types of biases that can affect the interview process and take steps to eliminate them. In this regard, we have identified seven different interview biases and provided techniques to help interviewers avoid them.

4 mins read
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8 months ago

We like to believe our choices are logical, but cognitive biases always influence us.

What are biases?

The brain has limited capacity to assess every new piece of information it encounters. As a result, it has developed quick decision-making mechanisms for people, situations, and objects. These mental shortcuts are vital for survival, but they can also lead to biased opinions when we make hasty judgments without careful evaluation.

Types of interview biases

When conducting interviews, it is important to strive for objectivity, but it is possible for biases to unconsciously influence the process. To prevent this from happening, it is crucial to understand and recognize the various types of biases that can occur. Below are seven common interview biases that you should be aware of and actively work to avoid.

Stereotyping

Stereotyping is a tendency to form a fixed and often oversimplified opinion about a certain group of people. It is based on a limited set of characteristics that we believe are typical of that group.

This can be a serious issue during interviews, as the interviewer may draw conclusions about a candidate that are not based on their skills or abilities, but on their initial prejudiced perceptions.

Gender and racial bias

Gender or racial bias refers to the belief that certain genders or races are not suitable for a particular job, held by the interviewer.

It's important for interviewers to remain unbiased in their hiring decisions, not only from an ethical standpoint but also to avoid legal consequences for discrimination based on gender or race.

Confirmation bias

During an interview, confirmation bias may lead the interviewer to ask questions or make suggestive statements that confirm their preconceived beliefs about the interviewee based on their CV or application.

People tend to pay more attention to information that confirms their beliefs and prefer to interact with like-minded individuals while being unwilling to consider different perspectives.

It is crucial to avoid hiring people solely based on their agreement with their line managers' views, as this practice can impede innovation and growth throughout the company.

Recency bias

Recency bias occurs when interviewers tend to favor applicants who were interviewed more recently.

When you conduct multiple job interviews in a single day, it can be easy for the candidates to blend together, making it difficult for you to remember each one distinctly. As a result, you may fall prey to recency bias, leading you to subconsciously prefer candidates who were interviewed near the end of the day. However, the issue with this bias is that the best person for the job may have been interviewed earlier in the day or even in the middle of the interview process.

Similarity bias

Similarity bias, also known as affinity bias, occurs when an interviewer makes hiring decisions based on a candidate's physical attributes or shared interests.

An interviewer may ask the potential employee about their weekend. For instance, the interviewer may ask if they had a good weekend and the interviewee could reply by sharing something like, "I did, thank you. I went for a hike with my dog." If the interviewer also happens to be a fan of hiking and dog owning, then the candidate is likely to be viewed more positively, even before any skills or work-related information has been obtained.

Halo bias

It is said that halo bias occurs when one positive characteristic overshadows all the other traits of an individual. For instance, during an interview, if the interviewer notices that the candidate went to a prestigious university or worked for a reputable brand in the past, they may tend to focus on these positive aspects and overlook any negative traits that the candidate may possess.

Horn bias

Sometimes, interviewers might have a bias that prevents them from seeing a candidate's positive qualities. This is known as the "horn bias". It can happen when a negative characteristic, like a spelling mistake on their CV, overshadows all the good skills and abilities the candidate has. Unfortunately, this means the interviewer might not give the candidate a fair chance to show what they are capable of.

How to avoid bias when interviewing

Keep interviews uniform

When conducting interviews, ask each candidate the same relevant questions and accurately document their responses to avoid bias.

Provide training to interviewers

It is crucial that interviewers undergo diversity and inclusion training and develop the ability to recognize and eliminate their own unconscious biases. This will ensure that the hiring process is fair to all job candidates and assist hiring managers in identifying any hidden biases they may possess.

Have a diverse group of interviewers

It is important to ensure diversity in the group of interviewers when there are multiple interview stages or a group of interviewers is involved. This helps in making a more balanced decision as each interviewer has their own biases. When the group is diverse, the bias is lowered as each member will have different perspectives and opinions.

Limit personal chats

When greeting an interviewee, limit small talk to avoid similarity bias.

Use a standard scoring system

Create a standard rating scale for interviews to ensure fairness in assessment.

Record and re-play remote interviews

If conducting remote interviews, record and replay them in different orders to avoid recency bias (with the candidate's consent).

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Relocating to the Middle East as a teacher: A comprehensive guide
7 mins read
  1. Article

Relocating to the Middle East as a teacher: A comprehensive guide

​Why consider relocating to the Middle East?

The Middle East offers a plethora of teaching opportunities, particularly in Dubai, in both public and private schools across all subject areas. With attractive salaries and benefits such as relocation assistance, accommodation, flights, health insurance, and education allowances for dependents, teaching in the Middle East is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience abroad.

Teachers in the Middle East can immerse themselves in a rich cultural tapestry, experience a diverse and inclusive community, and contribute to the growth and development of students in a rapidly expanding education market.

Read our article: The Requirements to teach English in the UAE

Education market conditions in the UK vs the Middle East

While the number of teachers in state-funded schools in the UK has not kept pace with the number of pupils, the Middle East education market is booming.

The Middle East's commitment to investing in education, coupled with a growing demand for qualified educators, presents a promising landscape for teachers seeking professional growth and advancement in their careers.

Teachers in the Middle East have the opportunity to be part of a transformative educational journey and contribute to the development of future leaders in a dynamic and evolving environment.

Benefits of relocating to the Middle East

Teaching in the Middle East comes with a host of benefits that make it an attractive destination for educators looking to expand their horizons and enhance their careers. From competitive salaries and tax-free income to comprehensive healthcare coverage and accommodation allowances, teachers in the Middle East enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while making a meaningful impact on students' lives.

Schools often provide free housing or accommodation allowances, cover flights for teachers and their dependents, offer relocation allowances to ease the transition, and provide end-of-year bonuses - equivalent to one month's pay. Additionally, some schools waive or reduce school fees for teachers' children, making the Middle East an appealing choice for teachers looking to balance financial stability with professional growth and personal fulfilment.

FAQ – What you need to know about relocating to the Middle East as a teacher

Here are some of the most important questions answered:

Who applies for my employment visa?

Your employment visa will be sponsored and applied for by the school. They will cover the costs associated with the visa.

The goal is to initiate the visa application before your arrival. If all your documents are in order, the application process will commence prior to your travel.

You’ll receive a copy of your E-Visa before your departure. Detailed instructions will be provided closer to your exit date by the school HR officer.

Do I have to arrange for a medical examination?

Yes, the medical examination is a mandatory step in the visa process.

The school will handle the arrangements and cover the costs once you’re in the country.

The examination is straightforward and typically includes a blood test and a chest X-ray.

Do I have to book my own flight?

No, the school will take care of booking and covering the cost of your flight. Typically, you’ll fly over three or four days before your expected induction at the school.

Do I have to make my own way from the airport to the accommodation?

Generally, a team member from the school will meet you at the airport and accompany you to your new home.

Your transfer from the airport to your accommodation will be arranged and paid for by the school.

Do I get paid for my baggage?

Baggage allowances may vary among schools. The specifics will usually be outlined in your contract.

What can I expect to find in the accommodation?

Upon arrival, your new home will be fully furnished. As part of your contract, you’ll be provided with an apartment that includes:

  • Air conditioning: Ensuring comfort in the hot climate.

  • Basic furnishings: Equipping your living space with essential furniture.

  • Adequate storage: Both in the kitchen and bedrooms.

  • All utilities in your school-provided accommodation will already be connected before your arrival. Here are some details:

  • Electricity and water: You don’t need to take any action regarding these utilities except paying for them.

  • Teacher responsibility: Teachers are responsible for covering their own utility bills.

  • Water quality: The water is treated and drinkable, although individual preferences may vary.

  • Bottled water: Local bottled water is readily available.

Your monthly bill will encompass electricity, municipality charges, water, and sewage. This consolidated bill is managed by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

Do I have to arrange my own transportation from the apartment to the school?

Most schools provide transportation to and from the school during the initial two weeks. This grace period allows you to familiarize yourself with the area.

Is the salary paid over 12 months?

Salaries are denominated in the local currency and are directly deposited into your bank account.

Upon your arrival, and once your employment visa is issued, you’ll need to set up a bank account. Your salary will then be transferred to your account at the end of each month.

What documents do I need to get attested?

To process your employment visa and obtain approval from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), you’ll need to attest the following documents:

  • Educational certificates: This includes your degree, degree transcript, and PGCE (if you don’t hold a Bachelor of Education).

  • Marriage certificate: If you’re sponsoring your spouse or child, this certificate must also be legally translated into Arabic.

  • Children’s birth certificates: These need attestation as well.

  • Transfer certificates for school-aged children: Ensure that these certificates clearly state the child’s name, current year group, and the expected completion date of the school year.

Obtain the full attestation service for your documents, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stamp from both your home country and the country you’re moving to (e.g., UAE). This is a prerequisite for processing your employment visa and obtaining KHDA approval.

Remember that since April 2019, your marriage certificate must be legally translated into Arabic when sponsoring family members. You can arrange this translation through various typing centers upon your arrival in Dubai.

Complete the attestation process promptly after signing your contract. Approval from KHDA and visa application cannot proceed until your educational certificates are attested.

Download the documentation checklist

Cultural adaptation

Moving to the Middle East as a teacher involves more than just adjusting to a new job. It’s essential to understand and respect the local culture to ensure a smooth transition. Here are some tips for cultural adaptation:

Learn about local customs and traditions:

  • Take the time to research the customs, traditions, and social norms of the specific country you’ll be living in. Each Middle Eastern country has its unique cultural practices.

  • Understand the significance of greetings, dress codes, and appropriate behavior in public spaces. For example, modest clothing is generally expected, especially for women.

Language skills:

  • While English is widely spoken in many Middle Eastern countries, learning a few basic phrases in the local language (such as Arabic) can go a long way.

  • Consider taking language classes or using language-learning apps to improve your communication skills.

Respect religious practices:

  • The Middle East is home to various religions, including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Be respectful of religious practices and holidays.

  • Familiarize yourself with prayer times, fasting during Ramadan, and other religious observances.

Building relationships:

  • Middle Eastern societies place a strong emphasis on relationships and community. Take the time to build connections with colleagues, neighbors, and locals.

  • Attend social gatherings, participate in community events, and be open to invitations.

Gender roles and interactions:

  • Be aware of gender roles and interactions. In some Middle Eastern countries, there are strict guidelines regarding interactions between men and women.

  • Avoid behaviors that may be considered inappropriate or offensive.

Food and Dining Etiquette:

  • Food plays a significant role in Middle Eastern culture. Familiarize yourself with local dishes and dining customs.

  • Accept invitations to share meals with others—it’s a great way to bond and learn more about the culture.

Patience and Flexibility:

  • Cultural adaptation takes time. Be patient with yourself and others as you navigate the challenges of a new environment.

  • Embrace flexibility and adaptability—things may not always go as planned, but that’s part of the adventure.

Work with a Reed consultant

Are you looking for a new challenge in your teaching career? Search and apply for a role here.

Relocating to the Middle East as a teacher: Document checklist
less than one minute

Relocating to the Middle East as a teacher: Document checklist

The Middle East presents a wide range of teaching opportunities, especially in Dubai, covering various subjects in both public and private schools. These positions come with competitive salaries and an array of benefits such as relocation assistance, housing, airfare, health coverage, and educational subsidies for family members. Teaching in the Middle East provides an excellent chance to gain valuable international experience.

However, before embarking on this exciting journey, it's crucial to be well-prepared for the relocation process. Download our comprehensive documentation checklist designed specifically for teachers relocating to the Middle East. Additionally, be sure to read our in-depth guide "Relocating to the Middle East as a teacher: A comprehensive guide" for a detailed overview of the process.

Employee tenure: long-term relationship or short-term fling?
5 mins read
  1. Article

Employee tenure: long-term relationship or short-term fling?

We all want committed employees but is length of service a true indicator of engagement? Does simply staying around in an employment relationship mean you’re all in? Of course, there are no simple answers to these questions – each situation is as individual as the parties involved – but it is worth thinking about what benefits both short and long tenure bring – and not rushing to build assumptions (or recruitment practices) on one or the other. 

So, what is employee tenure? It is generally defined as the length of time an individual spends with the same organisation or working for the same employer. According to the CIPD, the most common length of service is between two and five years (22.4%) but employees with over five years’ service make up nearly 50% of the workforce (Jan-Dec 2022).  

Is a long-term relationship better? You can certainly be forgiven for thinking so, as our corporate landscape often places value on long service and actively engages with strategies to lengthen or reward employee tenure. But why? Here are some key benefits of both short- and long-term tenures:

Long-term employee tenure

Increased productivity

Tenured employees tend to have a clear understanding of their roles and company goals due to their experience and time with the organisation. This familiarity with processes and procedures can allow them to work efficiently and contribute positively to productivity, as they are able to navigate the idiosyncrasies inherent in all companies. Quite often, they will have developed practices that enable the most efficient use of time to achieve objectives and outputs; and are then able to influence wider practices to spread the word. 

Stability and commitment 

Tenured employees will often feel more secure in their positions and so, can demonstrate greater commitment to the company. Their loyalty contributes to a stable work environment, which can positively impact team dynamics and overall organisational success. My current HR team has an average tenure of around 10 years, and this contributes to a very supportive and effective working environment – although how they’ve put up with me over the years is still a mystery! 

Skill set and knowledge base

Over time, tenured employees accumulate valuable knowledge and skills specific to their roles. This expertise can not only be passed down to new hires, benefitting the organisation as a whole, but also help with integrating new technologies and processes, ensuring they work for the business. We all have a ‘go-to’ person in our companies who is the fount of all knowledge and can help give a perspective gained from years of experience and insight. 

Company ambassadors

A company that retains its workforce builds a reputation for employee satisfaction. In a world where Employee Value Proposition (EVP) plays an important role in both retention and attraction, having employees who are aligned with the company ethos and happy to talk about why they’ve stayed so long, is a real asset. Plus, they are able to share this insight with new hires, acting as mentors and imparting knowledge and enthusiasm for the company. 

Short-term employee tenure

So, if long tenured employees are the utopia, why does an interim market exist, I hear you ask? What about those contractors who enjoy short-term assignments or project-based roles? Well, as I mentioned earlier, there are benefits to both forms of tenure and while the above benefits can be true of long-term relationships, there is also a lot to be said for a short-term fling (from an employment perspective, I hasten to add): 

Career experience

Demonstrating experience in diverse roles can make employees more attractive to potential employers, not only for permanent positions but also where a specific skill set or experience is needed. Working in various short-terms roles can help to provide this and organisations then benefit from someone who can bring real-life examples from different workplaces. 

Versatility

Working across different organisations and/or industries means employees will have experience of adapting to new environments or taking on responsibilities they haven't had before. This can encourage a mindset that is open to new ideas, as well as sharing them, and so means organisations benefit from having a versatile employee who excels in new environments. 

Openness

By accepting that an individual is not planning on bedding down within the organisation, employers may find a level of openness and challenge that is not there in others. The short-termer will be happy to challenge the status quo and focus on meeting the objectives in hand, even if that means coming up with new ways of working or unsettling the cart. While this might not be comfortable for all involved, it will foster an environment where ‘this is how it’s always been done’ is no longer a mantra. 

Ambition and drive 

Employees who are prepared to leave a company to seek new challenges or career development that is not available to them if they stay, show a level of ambition that is likely to have benefitted the company during their employment. In addition, they could well be the individuals who return to the organisation as future leaders, and so allowing them the opportunity to gain new experiences, while leaving on good terms, is a no brainer. 

Final thoughts 

With benefits of both types of tenure, where does this leave you? Should you be looking for a serial monogamist or a more open relationship? Well, as with most things in life, there isn’t a simple answer. It’s primarily about striking the right balance within your workforce and accepting that people have different preferences and needs.

Of course, you should be looking to encourage retention and reward those who show loyalty to the company, but you should also embrace those who leave sooner than hoped as they may one day wish to return. Many people, having gained certain skills and experience elsewhere, will fondly remember their experience at an organisation and consider rejoining. Therefore, the main thing to remember is how all employees are treated and valued during their time with you. Who knows, you may rekindle a relationship with an old flame further down the line! 

Looking for your next great hire in the HR space, or looking for pastures new? Contact our specialist consultants to start the journey.