HR department does many things in a company, but let’s consider the process of hiring employees. You may know that even if you know about cognitive biases you may still be a victim of these biases. So I suspect that many HR specialists may be victims of a halo effect. There are a number of recommendations regarding job interviews and many of them advise the same things: dress well, don’t be late, speak confidently. But as you can see none of these are job skills. Still halo effect will help you here.
Other common biases may influences hiring process, I suspect that anchoring, confirmation bias, framing effect and hindsight bias may be the most notable. HR staff may anchor on irrelevant information to make decisions. They may also look only for confirmation of their beliefs during interviews. And difference situation may frame candidates differently creating false differences. And finally hindsight bias may be used to support bad hiring decisions after making them.
Another problem with hiring is interviews, they may not reflect real skills. Basically, a person may know the best responses for interview questions and fake necessary skills. It can be helped if actual tests are used, when a candidate needs to show skills in a model environment. I understand how it can be done by a company that hires. But if an HR agency does the job, how can they test skills? HR agencies may not even have specialist in the same area as candidate for a specific position.
Sometimes I wonder what HR agencies actually do, what is their value? Is it just basic screening to filter really bad candidates and check job sites regularly? But if they do only these basic things it still may be valuable for many companies, especially with busy HR departments. Specialized HR agencies may even have means to test candidates’ skills, but I haven’t encountered any of these. Also testing process may be too costly for the most of HR agencies and have little actual benefit for their clients. Or agencies may just follow other agencies’ examples which don’t test candidates’ skills. It can be a cognitive bias too, but I leave it to check it for yourself, if you are interested.
Bigger companies may have better organized HR departments with better processes aimed to reduce influences of biases. But smaller companies may still use old practices.