Reduce Unconscious Bias in Recruitement

March 16, 2018 12:00 am Published by

Franchisee selection is a complex, multi-step process, which varies based on many factors, including the size of the franchise network. However, the interview phase is a must for all franchisors. This step can easily become tedious and complicated if you are not well prepared for it: receiving applications, reviewing CVs, sorting, ranking, interviewing, evaluating candidates… oh my! With so much going on, and sometimes having hundreds of applications to sift through, some details may escape your attention, yet they are often crucial for the future of your banner.

One bad hire can cost a company anywhere from 1.5 to 5 times that person’s annual salary.[1] You can imagine the damage it will cause to a franchise network! How do you make sure your interviews are as effective as possible? There are several ways to address this, and we decided to approach the topic from the point of view of unconscious bias.

What Is Bias?

“If you have a brain, you are biased.” That’s what Christine Cox from NeuroLeadership Institute teaches us. More specifically, biases are accidental, unintended, subtle and completely unconscious choices, made by everyone, all the time.[2] So how do you make sure that when you meet a candidate, you are able to take the right decision, to avoid being distracted by natural biases that can lead you to erroneously perceive qualities in the candidate that are in fact not there? Of course, the first step is to be aware of such bias. From the list of many types of bias, we have selected three to help you choose your future franchisees: confirmation, anchoring and risk of losing.

Confirmation Bias

Your brain tends to analyze information about a candidate in a way that confirms your preexisting beliefs and proves the expected outcome of such analysis. Indeed, if you enter the selection process with the mindset that this person is a good candidate, you tend to overlook the clues – the red flags – that suggest that he is not compatible with the banner, and instead focus only on what would prove your initial belief.

Anchoring Bias

A little less known, this bias can clearly get you to take a wrong route in choosing a candidate. Your brain tends to rely heavily on the first piece of information you receive and use it for subsequent judgments. Yes, the famous first impression! And it has been scientifically proven too. In fact, the first impression is like an “anchor” that, once set, will become the center point for all subsequent information, thus creating a bias towards interpreting other data around it in the same light.

Risk of Losing Bias

When you are sure that everything will go as expected, you are less likely to take risky decisions. At the same time, if you are less certain of your success, you would take more risks to avoid losing. For example, your brain may play tricks on you if you have significant market development projects underway and you are afraid you might not find enough franchisees for that. In this case, franchisors will be more inclined to take a risk by accepting a candidate who does not fully match the requirements. In contrast, franchisors who are sure to easily attract franchisees would tend to take very few risks in their selection of new franchisees.

Studies show that by simply knowing there is a stereotype, even if we disagree with it, we are affected by this stereotype. This is how our brains work. Being aware of these biases is the first step towards a better selection process. But they do not disappear, they are still there. So we suggest a little trick: design your interview questionnaire in a way that would allow you to reduce bias and to avoid the risk of falling victim to stereotypes. Your entire network will benefit!

FlagFranchise team

[1] A Deeper Dive into Bias in Recruiting, NeuroLeadership Institute, 2017

[2] ibid.