Biases have a way of clouding human judgement – unconsciously or consciously – steering us to make some decisions in a certain way. HR professionals have it no different. When hiring, racism, sexism, and ageism are some of the biases that can play a defining role in decision making. Shedding the cape of unbiasedness, recruiters sometimes make calls based on ‘what they believe in’ as opposed to the ‘standard procedures’.
If left unchecked, these biases can find their way into a company’s culture and norms. While it may be impossible to eradicate prejudices all together, one can still be conscious and not let them affect the recruitment process.
It’s not fair to move the needle in the favour of a person even before you have had a chance to interact with them just because they are good-looking or they have similar traits or interests as you. Likewise, you should not view someone in a negative light if you know they come from a certain part of the country. This can lead to inappropriate hiring decisions. Therefore, it only makes sense to shut off the noise or mental chatter that runs in your mind while making a wise recruitment decision.
Here are 10 proven ways to minimise interviewer bias while hiring someone:
10 Ways to Minimise Interviewer Bias
1. Accept and ChangeThe first step is to accept that hiring prejudices exist and understand how they tend to influence you. Click To Tweet
The first step is to accept that hiring prejudices exist and understand how they tend to influence you. This will also help organisations think broadly and seek ways to simplify and standardise the interview process. Simple awareness training can go a long way to help recruiters identify the inevitable biases and self-introspect on how to respond better.
2. Relook at Job Descriptions
Job listings provide the first impression of your company and choosing the right words can create a great impact on the initial perception of the applicants. It’s better to restrict the usage of certain words or phrases that can sound sexist or ethnically biased to the applicant. Here is a study that reveals a startling picture of how the choice of words can lead to gender inequality and division in the workplace.
The use of gender-specific pronouns can also set the wrong tone. Therefore, it is wise to use neutral words in your job descriptions to strike the right balance.
3. Grade Candidates Objectively
Create a level ranking scale by focusing more on the candidate’s specific qualifications, skills, and talents, and not prominent demographic characteristics. It is critical to see what each person brings to the table to avoid stereotyping bias. You already know the requisite skills for the role, so it makes sense to utilise the same ones to assess the candidate fair and square.
4. Standardise Interview Questions
Research shows that unstandardised interviews that do not follow a specific format are not so reliable in determining a candidate’s fit for a role. On the other hand, structured interview questions, whereby each candidate is asked the same set of questions, will help to standardise the process and minimise bias.
A good way to start could be with a phone screening first where physical factors do not influence your initial assessment of the candidate. It is helpful to set a specific structure for the phone interview as well.
5. Give Sample Work Assignments
Provide every candidate with a standard assignment or skill-based test on the role, whether it be writing a piece of code, analysing data sets, or writing brief descriptions to tackle a problem. These will provide useful insights on the performance of the candidate and help compare different candidates based on their skills objectively and minimise the biases.
6. Control Gut Instincts and Make Calculated Decisions
One study found that the impressions made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could impact the interview’s outcome and suggested that employers tend to hire people that they like the most on a personal level. It’s quite natural to develop a connection or personal rapport with someone who has the same vibes as yours. However, this is unconscious bias. You cannot hire someone solely because you like someone on a personal level.
Rather, you can include this aspect of likability in your grading rubric to give it a score among other vital skills and attributes required for the role. This will help you arrive at a more thoughtful and systematic decision.
7. Reduce the Chit Chat
It’s fair to start with questions like ‘How are you?’ or ‘How was your commute to the workplace?’ to break the ice, but avoid delving too much into subjective questions that can exacerbate bias. This can induce you to feel a certain way about the candidate.
For example, such conversations can open up the likability factor such as “Oh! You are from the same neighbourhood as I am” and steer you to make impulsive decisions. Ask relevant questions and stick to the standards as much as possible.
8. Be Aware of the Halo and Horn Effect
Be aware of both the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Don’t let one brilliant aspect overshadow the weaker areas, a phenomenon known as the Halo effect. Likewise, don’t concentrate too much on a particular weakness and assume that they may be poor in other areas. This is well known as the Horn effect. Make a fair assessment with a SWOT analysis and focus on the critical skills of the role before taking your decision.
9. Set Diversity Goals
The more diverse the candidate pool, the more diverse the recruitment policies that group candidates based on, for instance, gender or ethnicity needs to be. This will reduce favouritism and also allow you to help you reach the diversity goals of your organisation. Therefore, source candidates from multiple channels to end up with a more diverse group of people to assess, interview, and shortlist.
10. Assemble Interview Panel
It is good to have multiple people interview the same candidate to arrive at the final hiring decision. Assemble a diverse interview panel to ensure unbiased judgements. Have each interviewer take records or notes of the interview and compare the panel’s evaluations of the candidate before making the right call.
Ultimately, we cannot eliminate subjectivity entirely in the recruitment decision. At least not in one day, but it is possible to include objective assessment procedures to come up with an all-rounded hiring decision with minimal biases. Start recognising your interviewer biases and take the right steps to reduce them by following these best practices.