Interview Bias Training

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Interview Bias Training

Interview bias training is designed to educate and create awareness for hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters who make hiring decisions within an organization. In interviews, various forms of bias can influence recruitment decisions, leading to unfair and discriminatory hiring practices. These biases can be conscious or unconscious, and they can impact the candidate's chances of obtaining great employment options.

Organizations can create fair and objective interview processes that mitigate the impact of personal preferences, stereotypes, and other experiential assumptions by carefully tracking where these biases creep into their hiring and implementing unconscious bias training. This training provides a comprehensive approach to objective hiring and will equip a hiring team with strategies to recognize and reduce unconscious biases, leading to more inclusive hiring practices.

The first and most important aspect of unconscious bias interview training lies in the ability of interviewers to uncover and address subtle prejudices that they may bring into the hiring process. Now, before we go any further, I want to address a topic that I've seen talked about at length recently and clear up a misconception. Many people use terms like "biases" and "racism" to reflect systemic trends that they've seen creep into hiring processes over the years - but the term "unconscious" actually refers to overt prejudices that we all have to be on guard against.

Unconscious bias is something we can all bring into interviews if we're not careful- and I truly mean all of us. "Overt" or "conscious biases" are easily recognized and can be handled in kind with appropriate actions and dismissals, but covert biases are much more insidious and difficult to spot. This is exactly why we need unconscious bias training in the hiring process- especially for decision-makers.

Decision-makers within an organization are tasked with the most critical component of the hiring process- most would say it's selecting the right candidate, but it's far bigger than that. Decision-makers cast vision for the organization, they create culture, set company goals and objectives, and inspire the team to reach them. But if the decision-makers don’t support a vibrant and diverse team culture and allocate the resources necessary to combat biases - the organization becomes fractured and lacks the developmental structure needed to support an inclusive environment.

Getting one step closer to an unbiased culture also requires the right tools. Using blind resume software, interview intelligence, and other unbiased hiring solutions will help companies mitigate biases and make the right choices.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Unconscious biases are mental shortcuts our brains automatically take to make snap judgments about our surroundings. According to evolutionary biologists, these biases formed as a survival mechanism thousands of years ago. When the senses of early humans picked up unfamiliar patterns in their surroundings, say for example, the snapping of a twig in an otherwise quiet forest, their brain would automatically assess the situation as a potential threat. This allowed for quick responses and reactions to potentially dangerous situations. Put simply, the "Saber-tooth Tiger Effect."

In modern times, we have far less to fear, but these triggering mechanisms are still programmed into our brains and limbic systems. Despite being unintentional, these biases can have a profound impact on the hiring process, candidates, and company culture. A key to understanding unconscious bias is realizing that it's the way our brains naturally respond to situations and people we're unfamiliar with - and the only way to mitigate or even eliminate it is to recognize and address these negative patterns through unconscious bias training.

Unconscious bias training is the way we combat these negative patterns of behavior. A well-built training would first make individuals on the hiring team aware of their biases with testing and assessments like Harvard's Implicit Bias test. You can take it for FREE by clicking this link. By taking the test, you'll begin identifying bias in interviews and the hiring process, and see how these patterns show up as unconscious bias in the workplace.

Now that you're aware of where biases show up in your organization, good unconscious bias training will equip your team with the tools and strategies to actively reduce the impact of these biases. Hiring bias examples use structured interview questions instead of closed ones (closed-ended questions), implement diverse hiring panels, and create objective hiring criteria rather than allowing interviewers to rely on their "gut feeling" about a candidate. They also involve modules on re-evaluating job descriptions, diversifying recruitment channels, implementing blind application processes, and standardizing interview questions to ensure every candidate has a fair and objective evaluation process. These trainings are often a bit uncomfortable at first, but they can help organizations take concrete steps towards creating more equitable hiring practices.

To close this section, company excellence, fairness, and inclusion begin when decision-makers demonstrate their commitment and make unconscious bias training a priority. This commitment then returns dividends in diversity, ultimately enhancing brand reputation, and attractiveness to top talent.

Interviewer Bias Example

Interviewer bias generally isn't obvious and overt. That's why if it's left unchecked, it can infiltrate the hiring process without an interviewer even realizing that it's happened. A common interviewer bias example might be that a candidate with a gap in their resume might not be a reliable employee or as competent as others in the applicant pool. In reality, this person may have taken time off to hike the world, write a book, or do something that makes them even more qualified for the role- but they get overlooked due to the gap.

This preconceived notion can lead to biased interview questions such as, "Can you explain this gap in your employment?" When this question is posed with bias, it can imply a negative connotation that makes the candidate feel uncomfortable. Rather than seeking to understand the candidate's qualifications and circumstances, they allow their own prejudice to define the interview outcome.

Bias in the hiring process can manifest in so many ways, that we won't be able to cover all of them in this article. It can show up in the form of cultural fit, gender stereotypes, ageism, and many other forms. Interviewers might lean towards candidates who share similar interests, backgrounds, or even alma maters. This type of bias often excludes qualified candidates who could bring diverse perspectives to the team simply because they don't fit the existing mold.

Another hiring bias example is "the halo effect." This is where an interviewer might immediately like a candidate based on their education, appearance, or charisma, and overlook red flags in their qualifications.  On the other hand, "the horn effect" can cause interviewers to have a negative first impression of a candidate and unconsciously reject them throughout the rest of the interview - failing to see them as viable candidates despite their qualifications.

Reducing Bias In the Hiring Process

Reducing bias in the hiring process requires awareness and action. There are vital steps that you can take toward creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace once you've identified where it's affecting your hiring (some of which we've talked about in the previous sections). Implicit bias tests and structured interview techniques have proven to be significantly effective in how to avoid bias in interviews.

By standardizing questions and candidate evaluation against clear criteria, the structured interview process creates a plateau for more objective decisions, thus reducing bias in the hiring process.

Another important standardization strategy is using skill-based assessments and real-world job simulations to assess candidates' abilities. This type of evaluation reduces interviewer bias because it shifts the focus away from personal characteristics and toward a candidate's actual skills and capabilities. These assessments can also be done anonymously to avoid any potential unconscious biases and are a game-changer in how to reduce bias in the hiring process.

A practical evaluation in a real-world environment will give candidates the opportunity to showcase their abilities and demonstrate that they have the skills necessary to perform well in the role. This makes the hiring decision far easier because it bases the offer on performance rather than answers to interview questions or assumptions.

To further take the bias out of interviews, companies can employ a diverse team of interviewers to assess the candidate. This "panel interview" introduces multiple perspectives and greatly reduces the ability for one individual's bias to affect the outcome of the interview, signaling to the candidate that the organization's commitment to diversity and inclusion, which then leads to better company reviews, attracting a wider range of candidates.

Finally, blind recruitment tactics can have a huge impact on the initial phases of the hiring process. Early on, where callbacks are often based on resumes and applications alone, removing information about the candidate's gender, ethnicity, age, and educational background can significantly contribute to how to take the bias out of interviews. This ensures the candidates who are truly qualified for the role get shortlisted based on their skills, experience, and suitability for the role, not their unique personal identifiers.

These 4- 5 key points will get you 90% of the way to an unbiased hiring process, the rest is up to you. Embedding these strategies into your hiring process will make substantial strides in not only reducing bias in the hiring process but also setting the foundation for a great team. Ultimately, you have to ask the question, "Is this a priority for us to take action on today?" And if it is, then you'll be one step closer to creating a truly inclusive workplace. Next time you conduct an interview, take a moment to reflect on your own biases and how they may be influencing your hiring decisions.

If you've seen the impact of bias in your hiring processes and would like to implement systems to mitigate or even eliminate it, book a demo to chat with our team today. At Pillar, we're dedicated to developing interview intelligence systems that help you build a better team. Happy Hiring!