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Director of Talent

How To Remove Bias From Interviews

Before we dig into removing bias from interviews, let’s talk about the question: how can bias affect a job interview?  

If a company is looking to hire a candidate with a specific set of skills to do a job, and the interviewers have biases influencing how they make their decisions, the company risks losing money on an investment in the wrong candidate. More than just business costs, hiring the wrong candidate can influence other parts of the organization - including team morale, missed numbers, and attrition. There are different ways bias can appear throughout the interview process. A common threat to hiring efficiently and equitably is unconscious bias specifically.  

Unconscious bias is when a person’s (often the interviewer's) prejudice(s) influences their decision, even though the person may not be intentionally biased or even aware that the bias is influencing them. This all too often leads to the wrong candidate being hired because they are more likable, even though they are not necessarily qualified for the job. Another impact of bias in the interview process is the right candidate getting rejected based on the wrong criteria. An example of this is if a salesperson who is very friendly, extroverted, and personable gets hired for a highly technical sales role despite not having technical experience or a track record of hitting quota. In this same example, perhaps a candidate that has both of those things is passed on because they self-identify as an introvert. While the job description says nothing in the requirements about introverts or extroverts, an interviewer may unconsciously be more drawn to the extrovert as a positive candidate because it is easier to have a friendly conversation and get to know that person.  

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to help hiring teams remove bias from interviews. Interview Intelligence solutions like Pillar are specifically helpful at identifying areas of improvement and training teams on how to remove unconscious bias from the interview process.  

When hiring teams invest in Interview Intelligence, they become less likely to make the same mistake as the company in the above example that hired the wrong rep – an all too common hiring mistake that can cost a business hundreds of thousands of dollars. In order to reduce interview bias, begin by understanding interview bias psychology and how to recognize what bias looks like throughout the interview process.

Types Of Bias In Interviews

There are several types of bias in interviews, including affinity (sometimes called “similarity”) bias, halo/horn bias, and premature judgment (sometimes also referred to as “first impression”) bias. Affinity bias in hiring is very common, particularly within organizations that rely heavily on referral networks to find and attract candidates. A common example of premature judgement bias in hiring is when an interviewer provides feedback starting with “I just have a gut feeling…” or “I knew in the first five minutes…”. Unfortunately, when hiring teams score candidates based on premature judgments or similarities they are more likely to miss integral opportunities in interview conversations to better understand a candidate’s fit for a role based on skill alignment. Pillar’s Interview Intelligence solution was built to empower hiring teams with live interview coaching to avoid these costly mistakes and hire the right talent efficiently and equitably.  

judgmentOn the other side of the spectrum, removing bias in interviews can positively impact a business’s revenue, product roadmap, attrition/retention metrics, and employee morale. Companies leveraging Pillar are identifying and avoiding interview biases like the above example and are seeing improved growth metrics as a result. Using ai, Pillar Interview Intelligence catches when bias may be appearing in an interview or in a feedback loop, then provides real-time coaching to course correct. 

Removing Bias From Recruitment

 Unfortunately, the actual interview is not the only place that bias appears in hiring. Other unconscious bias in recruitment examples include:

Job Descriptions
*When job descriptions are not screened for bias, they may discourage qualified candidates from applying
*Common examples are: using language that is gender biased or discouraging to candidates with a non-traditional career path

Sourcing Candidates
*Referral processes often move up candidates that existing employees are friendly with straight to the hiring manager
*This results in overlooking a potential list of candidates who may be better qualified, but don’t have an equal opportunity for consideration
*This can lead to less diversity within an organization

Screening Resumes
*Because most hiring teams are in a rush to find a hire, they may rely solely on referrals (often affinity biases) to fill open roles
*Unconscious prejudices around where a candidate is from or what school they went to, for example, may impact whether a candidate is considered

Feedback Loops
*Taking too long to leave feedback on a candidate
*Feedback is based on a faint memory and no longer objective
*Talking with other interviewers before leaving feedback on a candidate
*Group bias is when interviewers let other peoples’ opinions influence their hiring decision 

Not having an efficient and equitable recruitment process in place leaves room for bias to impact hiring. Companies removing bias from their recruitment processes are using best practices like in this Ultimate Checklist for Hiring Teams combined with interview training and tools that lower their unconscious bias recruitment statistics.

Unconscious Bias In Interviewing

 Avoiding unconscious bias in interviewing may feel like an impossible task, however with the right tools and process in place, companies like Wistia are noticing improvements in hiring and attrition. If you’d like to learn more, check out this guide on mindfulness habits for Removing Unconscious Bias in Interviewing. Tackling unconscious bias in hiring practices is a top priority for most businesses since the market has shifted and candidates have more options than ever when it comes to choosing their next roles. Candidates notice when there may be bias in their interviews, and a poor candidate experience can severely limit a company’s ability to hire the right people. If that wasn’t enough reason to prioritize uncovering unconscious bias in recruiting and interviewing, it’s important to also keep in mind that interviewing is a “two way street”. Candidates will check for unconscious bias interview examples by intentionally asking questions about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) throughout their interviews. Read more about Questions Candidates Ask About DEI here. 7 practical ways to reduce bias in your hiring process and improve candidate experience include: 

1.) Review and fix any job descriptions with biased language
2.) Blind screen resumes (only looking at the skills listed)
3.) Educate hiring teams on what bias is/how it impacts the business
4.) Train hiring teams on what to ask in interviews (and what NOT to ask)
5.) Create a standard list of questions for each stage of the interview process that must be covered with each candidate considered
6.) Use skill tests that actually test skills
7.) Use Interview Intelligence tools like Pillar to coach interviewers in real time, hold hiring teams accountable to unbiased interviews, and capture live feedback 

For reducing unconscious bias recruitment statistics, it is a best practice to use an outcome driven mindset. By focusing on the desired outcomes from the role you are hiring for, you can remove bias from job descriptions, resume screens, and interview questions.

Biased Interview Questions Examples

To learn more about biased interview questions examples, check out What Not To Ask in An Interview - a guide on interviewer bias examples. Cultural bias interview questions are a specific challenge for hiring diversely in business. Because of this, it’s important to invest in educating hiring teams on why those questions are inappropriate and how they can negatively affect their team’s ability to grow. A few examples of cultural bias are: 

*Assuming someone doesn’t speak English because they have an accent
*Asking a candidate about their religion
*Judging a candidate based on whether their beliefs align with what the interviewer perceives as “normal”
*Making assumptions about a candidate’s ability to perform based on their race, educational background, gender, sexual orientation, etc

Since bias does not start in the interview process, it’s also important to train hiring teams on how to avoid interviewer bias in research when preparing to meet with candidates. Instead, to create unbiased interview experiences, companies should implement structured interview questions and answers. That way, all candidates have the same candidate experience without inequities. From a business value perspective, this will empower hiring teams to evaluate candidates on their abilities and find the right hires who will actually drive the desired outcomes. 

Bias In Hiring Process

Allowing bias in hiring processes can also impact a company’s brand. It’s difficult for companies to attract good talent when there are negative Glassdoor reviews or LinkedIn posts with candidates sharing unconscious bias interview examples from their experience with your team. Other types of public feedback from candidates may call out gender or racial bias in the hiring process, which can drastically decrease your brand’s desirability for diverse candidates.  

When there is bias in hiring at your business, your employer brand may be at risk - especially in the tech industry where candidates are more apt to use LinkedIn, RepVue, and Glassdoor before accepting a role. Bigger companies are typically more attractive to candidates because they have a larger employer brand and bigger budgets to invest in cultural improvements like how to reduce bias in hiring processes as well as organizational infrastructure. You can read more about Ways to Compete for Top Tech Talent Against Big Tech here. 

 To set your business up for long term success with the right people on your team, keep in mind the importance of:

*Understanding bias in hiring statistics
*Creating unbiased job descriptions
*Removing recruitment bias in research and resume screening
*Leveraging structured interview processes and questions
*Training hiring teams on how to hire effectively and equitably 
And finally, 
*Investing in tools like Pillar Interview Intelligence to continuously coach and improve interviewers while capturing live, unbiased feedback on candidates.