1. Halo/Horn Bias
When an interviewer allows either a positive (halo) or negative (horn) characteristic overshadow other behaviors, actions, beliefs, or attributes, he or she has a case of halo/horn bias. Globalizing one positive or negative characteristic can result in an artificially positive or negative evaluation of a candidate regardless of actual skills and abilities.
Ken applies for a marketing copywriter position, and the only writing samples he has are academic essays. Jenna, a hiring manager, assumes that since he’s a great academic writer (halo), he must be a great copywriter. Clouded by the halo, Jenna doesn’t request relevant marketing copywriting samples—despite these styles of writing being vastly different from one another.
2. Affective Heuristic Bias
Affective heuristic bias occurs when judgment is influenced by a particular superficial trait, such as race, gender, clothes, background, names, and even if the individual is perceived attractive or not.
Humans used to rely on their ability to read facial expressions, body language, and overall appearances to survive. While an interview is hardly a threat to your life, the affective heuristic bias has been deeply ingrained in us since the beginning of our existence.
Affective Heuristic Bias Example
When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz started to rise in the polls during last year’s election, he was the target of odd widespread chatter—not because of his views, but because of his face
. Some people described it as creepy, odd, strange, distracting, and villainous
. His atypical face was said to be so distracting that it was hard to listen to what he had to say.
Turns out, humans actually find comfort in the typical Duchenne smile
—a smile where the eyes narrow and the mouth turns upward. Cruz’s smile turns into a straight line, or it curves downward in an anti-Duchenne smile. Our brains instinctively interpret his expression as one of insincere intent.
However, not every aspect of the affective heuristic bias is rooted in science. Hiring decisions can be influenced by something as insignificant as a candidate’s name. Take this real-life example:
“I’ll never hire someone whose name is X. I had a boyfriend with that name and I just cannot hire someone with that name.”