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Practical ways to reduce bias in your interview process

7 mins
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    How can organizations ensure that hiring decisions are not biased? Extensive research shows that discriminatory and unconscious biases are pervasive in hiring.

    Unconscious bias encourages us to make decisions in the best interests of an individual or group at the expense of others. That one doesn’t notice.

    How can you be sure there is no bias when hiring at your company? Hiring bias can take many forms, from overt discrimination to unconscious bias. When choosing successful candidates, you are attracted to people who look and act like you. The latter is much more subtle and rarely intentional, but it’s still discriminatory.

    Diversity in the workplace leads to better results. A McKinsey study found that diversified companies perform 35 better than non-diversified companies.

    Conscious bias refers to intentional discrimination that harms another person or group. Prejudice, whether conscious or unconscious, can hurt the work environment.

    So how can you reduce bias in your interview process? Here are seven doable suggestions to get you going.

    What is unconscious bias?

    Unconscious prejudice refers to preconceived notions about a person based on gender identity, race, religion, appearance, ability, national origin, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc. These implicit biases can prevent applicants from obtaining fair employment opportunities. They also tend to prefer certain types of candidates over others.

    For example, remote teams may say or think things like:

    • Since they are not native speakers, it will be challenging to communicate effectively.
    • Your personality does not match our progressive corporate culture.
    • They come from a country of workaholics, and we should elect them.
    • The internet in your country may be unreliable.
    • We need new protocols to accommodate those functions, but there are too many to take on. Familiarity with legacy structures would not suggest they can hold up with our tech stack.
    • When she has a baby, will she be able to handle the workload?

    The worst thing about unconscious bias is that people don’t realize how their assumptions affect their job opportunities. But the results are not that different.

    Similar to discrimination, prejudice in the hiring process prevents far-flung companies from gathering diverse perspectives and hiring foreign workers. It will also stop hiring inclusive and fair practices in promotions and reduce employee retention.
    Now that we’re on the same page let’s dive into the next thing. 

    Also Read: Important Recruitment Metrics You Must Track In 2023

    Guiding Principles

    To reduce bias in your interview process, you should keep in mind certain principles that serve as guides and guardrails against discrimination in hiring.

    • Do

      • Change the wording of your job listing by intentionally removing adjectives that may be similar to gender, community, or age group.
      • Ask candidates to undergo testing for an unbiased approach to assessing and comparing results clinically.
      • Consciously refrain from personal feelings by quantifying empathy in terms of requirements to reduce bias in your interview process.
    • Don’t

      • Conduct unstructured interviews. Always ensure your interview process and questions are standardized by level so you can instantly compare each candidate’s responses. If possible, please provide an example of your ideal answer for reference to reduce bias in your interview process.
      • Don’t let demographic bias cloud your resume score. If necessary, use software to filter out these factors so that you can assess the skills you need with a clear mind.
      • It overlooks the requirement to set diversity goals. Make sure to track your progress toward reaching your goals.

    Also Read: Explained: What Are Game Based Assessments?

    Eliminate bias in the hiring process

    You need to level the practices, procedures, and belief systems for non-judgmental hiring and help develop an inclusive culture to reduce bias in your interview process. All employees deserve to feel welcomed, respected, and valued, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or life choice. Acknowledging bias is the first step. Here’s how organizations do this:

    Awareness is key

    The first critical step to reduce bias in your interview process is educating employees about the prevalence of unconscious bias, including affinity bias, racism, and more. One way to raise awareness is by educating and educating your employees on the subject. It helps us recognize and understand our unconscious biases.

    In addition, employees must take exams such as the Harvard Implicit Association Test. This exam can teach your team about unconscious biases and how they shape your personal and professional outlook.

    Accountability is essential

    You trained your employees to recognize bias in the workplace. Every employee should be held accountable, especially the HR specialist who teaches the entire team.

    For example, a manager has completed ten performance reviews. He has five males and five females. Given that 4 of the top 5 performers are women, we need to examine whether there is a bias in favor of women in this process.

    Also Read: 5 Most Common Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

    Please review your job description

    Job postings are essential in recruiting talent and often give the first impression of a company’s culture. “Even the subtlest choice of words can have a big impact on your applicant pool to “Make them aware that they do not belong in the work environment.”

    On the other hand, words like “supportive” and “supportive” tend to attract women more than men. Software programs that emphasize stereotypical gender can counteract this effect. You can then remove the word and replace it with something more neutral or try to find a balance using the same number of gender descriptors and verbs. 

    Similarly, excessive business jargon, long words, and abstract descriptions discourage many newcomers, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, from applying because they feel they are not suited for the role. Consider your language carefully. Find the right balance by alternating “he” and “she” in job descriptions with software that emphasizes stereotypical genders.

    “Learning by doing, learning by observing.”

    Proficiency tests are useful

    Sampling tests are one of the most accurate indicators of a candidate’s future success. Testing allows organizations to compare candidates based on jobs, not just resumes.

    For example, in competency testing, an organization should look at a candidate’s job performance rather than the candidate’s appearance, gender, age, or personality.

    Also Read: 5 Important Interview Techniques That’ll Help You Get Hired

    Defining diversity and setting goals

    Set business goals to help everyone understand the importance of eliminating unconscious bias and increasing revenue diversity. Next, describe what diversity means in your organization. For example, underrepresented race, age, gender, or sexual orientation?
    At each stage of the candidate process, you should set goals: Application Funnels, Interview Conversion Rates, and Passes. Most importantly, communicate your achievements.

    Use structured interviews

    Unstructured interviews cannot identify specific job issues. Research shows hiring decisions for such discussions are often subject to unconscious biases and prejudices. Structured interviews, however, are helpful to reduce bias in your interview process. You know, 67% of companies use structured interviewing during the candidate selection.

    If you are among those remaining 33% of companies, don’t worry at BarRaiser. We have prepared how to run a structured interview with all the necessary questions to develop an effective interview process.

    In structured interviews, recruiters ask all prospects the same or similar questions in the same or similar order. This approach removes the need for small talk and subjectivity and allows you to compare applications based on objective criteria.

    There are several things to consider when creating an effectively structured interview. You can use BarRaiser’s free structure tool to implement some of these.

    First, you should create a standardized rubric for a particular role and stick to it in all candidate interviews.

    Also Read: Navigating HR Challenges: Recruitment Strategies For Public Sector

    Record or transcribe the job interviews

    Recording job interviews can be a valuable tool for ensuring accuracy and fairness in the hiring process, but it is essential to consider several compliances before recording. Recording interviews can be compelling in building intelligence around interviews, eliminating bias, and making better hiring decisions.

    The recordings can be used to train new interviewers (sort of asynchronous shadow and reverse-shadowing) faster. Interviewers can visit the best interviews and respond to candidates’ questions.

    A recorded or transcribed interview can brush up the memory of the interviewer at the time of feedback and hence enable a comprehensive assessment of each candidate rather than a judgment based on the interviewer’s memory. Recording interviews can also help managers keep track of the interview process, a crucial element in employer branding.

    Assemble a multi-functional interview team

    A cross-functional interview team is a great way to break down bias in the hiring process. Another good practice is guiding the interview team on what to look for and avoid, including hiring bias.

    Developing a strategy for discussing candidates in coordinated debriefings is a great way to allow other interviewers to check for bias.

    Blind Resume Screening to Reduce Bias in Your Interview Process

    Blind resume screening is an effective technique to mitigate bias in the initial candidate evaluation. By removing personally identifiable information from resumes, such as names, gender, or age, you can focus solely on the qualifications and skills of applicants. Blind resume screening can help create a fair and objective assessment process, promoting equal opportunities for all candidates.

    Also Read: Revolutionize Your Hiring Process With AI-Driven Pre-Employment Assessments


    Unchecked and unconscious biases can keep the best candidates out of interviews and job openings. You can make meaningful progress toward your goal of attracting and retaining. Suppose your company is ready to hire diverse leadership talent. In that case, BarRaiser offers modern recruiting resources designed to protect recruiting resources from conscious and unconscious biases and provide equal opportunity for candidates on executive search platforms. Diversity isn’t just business sense. It’s also healthy. BarRaiser can help you reduce bias in your interview process. Request a demo for your business today.

    People also ask

    How can you reduce bias in your interview process?

    Implement strategies like blind resume screening, structured interviews, and setting diversity goals to actively reduce bias in the interview process.

    What practical steps can organizations take to reduce bias in interviews actively?

    To reduce bias in your interview process, take actionable measures such as changing job listing language, implementing proficiency tests, and using structured interviews to create a fair and objective hiring process.

    How does BarRaiser help to reduce bias in your interview process?

    BarRaiser provides modern recruiting resources with features like blind resume screening, structured interviews, and cross-functional teams, protecting against conscious and unconscious biases for diverse and inclusive leadership talent.

    What are some key principles to follow to reduce bias in the interview process?

    To reduce bias in the interview process, follow critical principles such as changing job listing language to avoid bias, implementing proficiency tests for unbiased assessment, and using structured interviews with standardized questions. Additionally, it’s crucial to prevent demographic bias in resume scoring, set diversity goals, and track progress toward achieving them. These principles serve as guides and guardrails against discrimination in hiring.

    Why is awareness crucial in reducing bias in the interview process?

    Awareness is essential in reducing bias by educating employees about unconscious biases, including affinity bias and racism. By raising awareness through education and tools like the Harvard Implicit Association Test, employees can recognize and understand their biases, fostering a more inclusive and unbiased interview process.

    How can accountability play a role in mitigating bias during the hiring process?

    Accountability is crucial in mitigating bias during the hiring process. Organizations hold employees accountable, especially HR specialists, to ensure that biases are identified and addressed. For instance, performance reviews can be analyzed for gender or other biases, promoting a fair evaluation of candidates and preventing discrimination.

    Why is blind resume screening an effective technique to reduce bias in the initial candidate evaluation?

    Blind resume screening effectively reduces bias by removing personally identifiable information from resumes, such as names, gender, or age. This allows recruiters to focus solely on the qualifications and skills of applicants, promoting a fair and objective assessment process and providing equal opportunities for all candidates.


    HBR on reducing bias in the hiring process
    Forbes on reducing unconscious bias in hiring

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