Steel Mountain Services

The Bias Reset: Understanding your Bias for Better Business Decisions

Why you Need a Bias Reset

The lens through which we view the world determines the decisions we make. As decision makers in a position of power, whether it be as a manager hiring a new team member, or an investor deciding to invest in a founder, we owe it our company to make the best decision possible. That means putting aside our unconscious (or conscious) conditioning and trying to see the person in front of us with as little bias as possible. The more we can see someone for who they are, the better decision we can make.

So how to reset the lens and remove the bias? Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” for this, it takes significant retraining of the brain to be able to consciously account for our bias with ease. But a little awareness goes a long way, so take a few minutes before a meeting with a potential candidate to focus on your own lens and how that may impact your upcoming decisions.

Here is the Bias Reset Checklist:

  • What do I already think of this person without having met them?
  • What culture do I think they are from?
  • What do I believe about their demographic? E.g. xx are bad drivers, Americans are loud, etc.
  • What am I assuming about them based on their age / their looks?
  • How much do I like this person without having met them?
  • How suitable for the role do I think they will be? Why do I think that?

You can download the complete bias tools worksheet here.

Going in to a meeting with these assumptions front of mind will allow you to see the person in front of you more clearly. You are now able to look for data that contradicts your assumptions, not just confirms them. You will be able to focus on the things that actually matter, like their values or past performance, and give that the weighting it deserves instead of being skewed by your lens.

This Could Make Your Decisions Harder (In the Short Term), But It’s Worth It

Be aware that having awareness of assumptions can make ultimate decision making harder, at least initially. This is because during the learning process you start to second-guess yourself: “is this my genuine opinion, or just my bias talking?” You may find yourself having met someone you really dislike, but are unsure of whether to dismiss them as a candidate based on your feelings. The thing to remember is that your assumptions are just extra data points in a much bigger picture. So long as you are aware of the assumptions you have made, and have questioned whether those are actually true when faced with the actual candidate, then you have done your job well. If you still dislike a potential candidate that you initially disliked, then that is probably the right decision, and vice versa.

This isn’t a solution that can be learned overnight. Consciously being aware of how we are wired is a process that takes time to master. It’s as much art as it is science. We’ve developed a complete set of Bias Tools including this Reset, and a “Bias Scale” to designed to reduce the impact your biases have on your decisions during your interviews. Download the Bias Tools below, or click here to read more about them.

Would you like us to train you and your team how to better assess candidates? We teach workshops around the world on how to better assess candidates and increase profits by reading people better. Contact us at biastools[at]

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