The hiring process is fraught with human bias, which you have no control over. As much as possible you don’t want to feed your interviewer’s biases and turn them off. While the government tries to legislate employers not to be “biased,” the fact remains biases are subjective and difficult to prove in court.
Don’t waste your job search energy concerning yourself with, or trying to fight, employer biases, which will always exist to some degree. Holding onto the belief one-day human biases will be 100% eliminated is wishful thinking.
Hiring is the act of choosing. The act of choosing requires the hiring manager(s) to discriminate. (a person’s “biases” directs their discrimination) It could be argued that when a hiring manager chooses not to hire someone, they’re “technically discriminating against them. How else do you expect employers to whittle down 500 applicants to one hire?
All you can do is mitigate the odds of turning off your interviewer by not consciously fueling their biases. Here are the four most common ways (there’re many more) job seekers fuel a hiring manager’s biases.
- Their resume, and LinkedIn profile, lacks numbers that quantify their results.
It’s raining resumes. The chances of landing an interview with a generic resume/LinkedIn profile are slim, but let’s say you lucked out. Clichés such as “I’m a team player.” or “I’m detail-oriented.” are meaningless and are open to interpretation. How we interpret is based on our experiences and biases.
If you’re in the market for a new car, would you gravitate towards an ad that claims the “The General Lee is fast!” or “The Batmobile, having a 5.7-litre V8 engine, goes from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds.”?
Numbers, which in this case number quantify The Batmobile’s engine and speed, removed a person having to interpret what’s “fast.” (Maybe The General Lee is faster, but without numbers to quantify its speed, how would we know?)
Replace generic resume bullet-point statements with result-achieved statements. For example, replace “Collected survey data from email subscribers” with “Collected survey data from 8,500 email subscribers. In 2020 this data was used to implement 4 marketing strategies that increased average order size by 32% compared to 2019.”
- Aggressive about career advancement.
These days employees are churning. As a result, hiring managers are more mindful to not hire candidates they assume (another word of “bias”) will be a flight risk.
Keep your interview discussion on what you can do for the employer. Avoid discussing your hopes for career advancement or coming across as being entitled. Instead, have several relevant examples of past successes and accomplishments at your fingertips (aka, STAR stories — Situation, Task, Action, Result) and leave your career ambitions aside.
- Being excessively forthcoming about weaknesses.
Be careful how you answer, “What are your greatest weaknesses?” If you confide you struggle balancing family responsibilities with your work schedule, the hiring manager’s biases (READ: assumption) will kick in, which won’t be in your favour.
When I’m hiring, I’m looking to find the best candidate who’ll be a fit. I’m also looking to manage risk. Given my hiring experiences, your weakness mentioned above will probably have me assume:
- You’ll have a lateness issue.
- Will be asking for time off to deal with family matters.
- Will be making/taking lots of personal calls.
There’s a formula to answering the “weakness question”: Experience + Learn = Grow.
“Back in March, my boss suddenly became ill and couldn’t conduct the already scheduled town hall. I offered to conduct the town hall, my first. It went alright but could have been much better—my PowerPoint skills were severely lacking. So, I’m now taking PowerPoint courses on Udemy. As a result, my PowerPoint skills have improved tremendously.”
- Lack of enthusiasm.
Excitement = Job offers
It’s not uncommon for me to have to choose between a qualified candidate on paper and a less qualified candidate who brings passion to the table. I’ve hired the latter every time.
A candidate’s lack of enthusiasm offers many assumptions. They could be an introvert, which I believe is a manifestation of self-limiting beliefs. Maybe they aren’t interested in the job opportunity or are just looking to collect a paycheck. None of these assumptions work in the candidate’s favour.
It never hurts to state at the end of an interview, if you do want the job, with, “I’m very interested in this position and working for Wayne Enterprises. I hope for a positive outcome,” or a similar interview closing statement.