Unconscious Biases Are Ruining Your Recruiting Efforts


“Don’t be yourself.”

That’s one of the top responses employees gave in a recent VitalSmarts report, saying they felt discriminated against in the workplace. Those who experienced receiving this specific message felt discouraged from revealing their true selves at work. For example, one gay married woman in the report expressed that she doesn’t feel like she can talk about her wife and feels the weight of traditional feminine attire expectations.

These are just a few examples of workplace discrimination, which comes in various forms, many of which are subtle. The report also found 66 percent of the survey respondents said the biased treatment they experienced negatively affected their commitment, morale, motivation, and desire to move up in their organizations.

So when even unconscious discrimination seeps into the recruitment process, quality employees are either looked over, pass up medical sales jobs, or start out on a negative foot. And, unfortunately, the medical sales community is frequently judged for its biased hiring.

However, with so many forms of subtle biases, hiring issues are frequently based off of unconscious bias.

In order to start fixing these mistakes, recruiters need to first learn how to check their unconscious biases at the door. Here’s where you can start:

Why you should pay attention to unconscious bias

Medical sales jobs require highly talented, focused, and experienced reps. Thanks to unconscious biases, many of these highly talented medical sales reps get passed up on a daily basis.

But if they’re so talented, why would they get looked over so easily?

The truth is, we’re all human, which means we all make varying connections — have likes, dislikes, etc. This means biases are completely normal. However, “normal” doesn’t mean it’s “right.” Not paying attention to those unconscious biases means you’re giving up the opportunity to open up, get to know every candidate, and you’re losing out on quality team players.

In the medical sales jobs world, this means you’re specifically losing out on medical sales reps who have a unique way of selling, breaking into new markets, connecting with new clients, and creating an overall well-rounded team.

Checking Biases at The Door

1. Know yourself: The best leaders are able to admit they’re capable of making errors. As a recruiter, it’s your job to constantly reflect on yourself and your hiring decisions. Look for any commonalities your recent hires may have. Do they have the same appearance, values, personality, likes, and dislikes?

If so, consider these biases the next time you’re recruiting. Be sure to ask questions that will steer you away from discovering these personal attributes, and stick to those that will point to the person most qualified for your medical sales jobs.

2. Ask team members to write job descriptions: Believe it or not, you can show bias by using a specific language or words in your job descriptions. Avoid this deterrent by asking your current medical sales pros to write up job descriptions from their point of view. Not only will you draw in various recruits with this new language and description, your team can offer even deeper insights into the job’s day-to-day tasks.

3. Let go of the reigns: As a recruiter, finding and hiring the perfect candidates is a personal pursuit. Winning involves you attracting, hiring, and onboarding the next best team members.

However, giving your team more power through the hiring process will help them get acquainted with candidates and hire them based on the appropriate skills and cultural fit. For example, have mentors guide candidates through work test samples to effectively gauge their skills, experiences, and ability to learn.

4. Know “likeability” vs “cultural fit”: Hiring someone because you connect with them on a “friend” level is likeability, not cultural fit. Wanting to go out to a restaurant with them, feeling they remind you of your younger self, or sharing personal interests, is not cultural fit.

Keep yourself behind the cultural fit line by creating a specific medical sales jobs cultural fit list. This is a list that every recruiter should use as guidance and should be based on the culture that will enhance the company’s efforts and make the candidate most successful.