What is recency bias and how it affects interviews?
Picture this: You’re a hiring manager and you’ve been interviewing potential candidates all week and the most recent candidate is your #1 choice. Before you finalize your decision take a second to pause and ask yourself: “Is this due to recency bias?”
It is most likely the answer. The information that your brain collected only yesterday seems like the best possible option as it is so much easier to remember.
Recency bias refers to the tendency to give more importance to recent information or experiences when making judgments or decisions. In the context of interviews, this can manifest as giving more consideration to a candidate with the most recent job or experience, rather than taking a holistic view of their qualifications and experiences.
Thus, the recency effect mainly reflects the way our brain is hardwired to remember information presented to us most recently. You may probably recall what you had for dinner today, but do you remember what you ate for dinner about a week ago? In the same manner, you may be able to remember the candidates you spoke to today, but most plausibly not the ones you spoke to last week and this can impact the earlier candidates while proving advantageous to the last-interviewed candidate. Read more about how to remove unconscious biases in interviews.
How to avoid recency bias in interviews
The way to avoid recency bias in interviews is listed below:
Have a System In Place
Having a system which is clear-cut and well-implemented may help. Firstly, it is very important to have an established and clear set of interview questions to ensure that every candidate has the same interview experience by providing them with a level playing field. Generate a rating criteria from each response of the candidate so your notes will be an integral part of overcoming the recency bias. Read more on how to efficiently plan your interviews. Read more on how to structure your interviews.
With the consent of the candidate in question, recording the interviews can be a good idea to refer to the clips when the pool of candidates has been narrowed down. This can be done by watching the first person you interviewed at the end to overcome the recency bias. Read more about how to record interviews.
Avoid Making Decisions During Fatigue
Mental fatigue further promotes the recency effect so try to avoid making any decisions during any state of fatigue or tiredness. Instead, try to select the candidates in the morning after you give yourself a chance to rest and have a fresh perspective and outlook on the issue. Mentally being fresh and alert prevents the harmful effects of recency bias and makes it easier to remember the events of the preceding day and the experiences with each individual candidate. Moreover, try to allow yourself to have enough breaks in the middle of interviewing to allow new associations and memories for each candidate. Read more on how to conduct better interviews.
Rigorous Note-taking during interviews
Instead of exerting yourself by scheduling interviews consecutively with no space to breathe in between, make sure there is enough time between the interviews to take a breather and immediately record impressions. Moreover, do ensure that you take notes right away in the given moment during which the candidate’s experience s still extremely fresh in your mind as it will enhance your ability to reflect on your notes and remember the strengths/weaknesses of a candidate you interviewed even 5 days ago. Complete your scores and make meaningful notes for the accurate assessment of the candidate’s responses. Interview recording and transcription is an effective ways to be taking rigorous notes and yet be involved in the interview. Read more on how to make efficient interview notes.
Provide Interviewer Training
Interviewers must have proper training on how to conduct interviews in an impartial manner to minimize any form of unconscious bias or prejudices to provide a fairer way of being interviewed by the candidate. Training should focus on avoiding all types of bias, not just recency, by emphasizing how to keep an open mind while interviewing and choosing the candidate based on merit and qualifications, not anything else. Read more on how to train your interviewers.
Randomise Candidate Reviews
Review the candidate’s answers question by question and not candidate by candidate, rather than scoring all of the candidate’s answers at once. Randomize the candidates so that they are reviewed in a different order. For their CVs, split the sections of the CVs up instead of going through it all at once. By using this process, no candidate will benefit from recency as there is no particular order followed. Also, mix up candidate discussions between different interviewers such that the same candidate is not the last one meeting all the panel members. This way you can also avoid groupthink in hiring.
Thus, understanding how this bias works and implementing the correct ways and strategies to challenge the recency effect, can lead to an objectively better decision-making process holistically.
As a recruiter, we interview several people and it is extremely easy for these experiences to be forgotten or not remembered wholly. BarRaiser Interview Intelligence is committed to ensuring that each and every candidate receives a fair opportunity by taking steps to remove the recency bias. This will lead to better decisions-better process-better in recruitment in the end.
People also asked
How to reduce bias while interviewing?
Interviewer bias is often unconscious and it is essential that the interviewer training program appreciates that the best way to mitigate this is through self-realisation. BarRaiser Interview Intelligence identifies interviewer bias, makes it visible to them and provides them with live nudges during the interview to do so. Read more on how to reduce bias in interviews.
What causes the recency effect?
The human mind tends the remember the most recent event most vividly. An example of this is during interviews: when comparable candidates come in for an interview, the probability of the last candidate receiving the offer is the highest. Interviewers need to be cognizant of their biases and address them accordingly.