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The dictionary of recruitment biases

We developed this dictionary with Emouna LILTI, work psychologist and career coach to give you insights and keys to understand recruiters’ decision making processes.

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Passionate about social psychology, I have been interested in the cognitive biases present in the actors of professional insertion and recruitment.

My 2014 dissertation focused on judgmental standards in recruitment and the overvaluation of effort in the corporate sphere. At a time when individuals are made responsible for their career development, it seems important to me to reveal the psychological biases of economic actors to empower candidates.

What is a cognitive bias?

Is the brain the organ of reason? Not quite...

Using a cognitive bias means favoring information that confirms one's preconceived notions and giving less weight to information that goes in the opposite direction. Refer to the links to articles for tips or influence techniques associated with the topic.

The root

Every day we are required to process a very large amount of information and make multiple decisions.

The issue

If we had to analyze everything objectively, exhaustively and rationally, we would be unable to act on a daily basis.

The biases

The brain has therefore developed automatisms: the cognitive biases to simplify our reasoning, reduce our uncertainty and speed up our decision-making.

In an interview

The "judgmental biases" are particularly active during recruitment. We will help you understand the psychological mechanisms at play in an interview.

Preparing your interviews will make a real difference

Confirmation bias

The brain filters information in light of what it already believes.

The confirmation bias translates into a reluctance to change one's mind. It can be considered as the most powerful bias of human beings, because it impacts perception, information processing and memory.

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In an interview, if you know that the recruiter has a positive opinion of you, try to feed the exchange with evidence that supports this. Conversely, if you identify negative prejudices, think about building a case to counter them.


Primacy effect

Cognitive processing of information varies according to their order of appearance: the first impression is crucial.

The primacy effect refers to the fact that the first information we receive is better processed and remembered than the information that comes later. Having an idea of the initial opinion about you informs you about how you will be judged.

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Describing oneself as "warm and disorganised" during an interview will be better perceived than "disorganised and warm". The word "warm" heard first will tend to make other adjectives, even those clearly negatively connoted, more positive.


Halo effect

Show one of your qualities and you will be judged positively on all your traits.

This effect, also called the notoriety effect, consists in associating virtues to a person who sends back a positive first image. The first impression modulates the interpretation of the information we receive about this person.

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In an interview, you should try to make a positive impression from the very first minutes by being prepared for the interview and by communicating in a way that is adapted to the type of position you are targeting.


Implicit theory of personality

Everyone of us thinks he is an expert in personality analysis.

As our experiences progress, we accumulate knowledge about the qualities that people may possess. Convinced that we understand how the qualities fit together, we tend to distort the interpretation of what we see.

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From a dominant character trait, recruiters thus tend to deduce the general profile of the candidate. Identify one of your central traits and put it forward in order to make it an asset during your interviews.