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Unbiased interviewing starts with a simple question - "how do we, as interviewers, overcome bias in our own hearts and minds?" Even taking it to the next level and saying, "How can I ensure that I bring no form of bias into an interview?" - because this decision will affect someone's career and future.
This is the purest and truest form of internal searching a human can do - and it's the first step is to become aware of any potential biases you bring to an interview. Knowing what biases you might have, when they are triggered, and how they could affect the hiring process is key to ensuring a truly unbiased interview process that's inclusive and offers equal opportunity for everyone.
None of us like to admit that we have biases. But labor statistics show that a vast majority of interviews are still affected by interviewer bias. It's an ugly topic that forces us to look in the mirror and uncover things about ourselves that we may not be comfortable with addressing yet.
Luckily, there's technology to help you limit or even eliminate recruitment bias. Project Implicit and Harvard University got together to create an implicit bias test that I'd highly recommend if you're interviewing candidates. You can take it for free through the link provided.
There's also interview intelligence software like Pillar that helps you identify interviewer bias examples and coach members of your team to approach the interview process with an equitable mindset.
There are many types of bias that show up in interviews. The most common is unconscious or implicit bias, which occurs when perceptions or expectations unconsciously affect the way we interact with other people. In short, when we're not conscious of the reasons why we think and feel a certain way, or about a certain person or trait - that's when unconscious bias can creep in.
Unconscious biases can lead us to make decisions that are discriminatory, even if we don't intend them to be - and when we're not conscious of our biases, others creep in and begin to affect those around us in other ways.
Other types of bias include confirmation bias (seeking evidence that confirms your preconceived beliefs), cognitive bias (making assumptions based on limited information), and hierarchical bias (favoring people based on their title, rank, or power).
The most common ways for this to show up are when resumes have names that are hard to pronounce, or when someone shares something in common with you that makes you believe they are competent in an area so you look for ways to prove their competence rather than treating them the same way you would any other applicant.
There are also biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other characteristics. These can be particularly tricky because they arise from deeply held beliefs that can be hard to recognize in ourselves.
By becoming aware of these biases, whether through implicit bias testing or through coaching that comes from interview intelligence insights, we can start to eliminate all types of bias in interviews and break down the barriers that prevent us from finding the best candidates for positions.
If we want to hire top talent, who'll do an amazing job, perform at a high level of competency, and be an additive factor to our company's culture (a "Multiplier," as Liz Wiseman, calls them in her amazing book with the same title), we need to create a culture in which they can thrive.
Identifying and hiring those amazing people means eliminating any biases in our interview process that would single them out, make them feel unqualified for the role, or even worse, make them feel uncomfortable when they're interviewing. This starts with an unbiased job description and continues all the way through the hiring process until they're given an offer.
To help you create an unbiased interview process it's best, to begin with, a job description that's written without any bias. This means replacing gender-specific words with more inclusive language and avoiding any biased questions that could single out candidates who don't fit a certain mold.
When it comes to actually conducting the interview, it's important to eliminate any "bias interview questions" that could derail your interviews and replace them with unbiased questions that are fair to all candidates and provide an even playing field for everyone.
Sample Unbiased Interview Question Examples look like this:
1. How would you handle a situation where two team members had drastically different opinions?
2. Describe a time when you had to make a decision with limited information.
3. Talk about how you handle situations where there is no clear solution or answer but you still needed to solve a problem.
4. What strategies do you use to stay organized and motivated?
5. How do you ensure that all team members are heard during group discussions?
These are just 5 of the thousands of questions you could ask. A good formula to follow when considering whether to ask an interview question or not is:
1. Does the question call attention to any trait that is personal, individual, or potentially sensitive to a candidate?
2. It is a standard question you would ask of anyone interviewing for this role.
3. Is the question structured or at least semi-structured? These types of questions tend to bring less bias into the interview process.
Asking unbiased interview questions helps ensure a fair process for all candidates and creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable being themselves.
Unconscious bias in hiring is less of a problem today than it was even five years ago... and that's encouraging! That said, it still creeps in, and hiring managers still need to take steps to avoid bias in interviews.
The first step is to become aware of potential biases that could creep into the hiring process. This includes being conscious of any stereotypes or assumptions you may have about certain characteristics such as gender, race, and age. You can start by reviewing interview bias examples and then thinking about how you can ensure all candidates are asked the same questions and given equal consideration for the role.
The next step is to do research on what interview questions you can and cannot ask in the interview process. A great place to begin this bias in interview research is the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They're the regulating body that oversees bias in the workplace and they have guidelines that you can use to ensure compliant hiring practices.
The third step is to create a standardized list of interview questions that you will ask every applicant. This ensures consistency across all interviews and prevents any candidates from being treated differently due to their background or other characteristics.
If you'd like to access our library of more than 1000 unbiased interview questions, chat with someone from our team to see how Pillar can help you create an unbiased interview process.
Bias in recruitment and selection will only be eliminated with education. Unconscious bias in recruitment happens when the entire team isn't bought into creating equal opportunity for everyone.
How to reduce bias in the hiring process:
All areas of an organization, especially those responsible for recruitment and selection, should be educated on the dangers of bias. Unconscious bias in recruitment examples from past interviews should be highlighted and coaching should focus on eliminating these biases. This means teaching interviewers to recognize and avoid biased behaviors while also providing tools they can use to minimize conscious and unconscious biases during the interview process.
Organizations must also create an environment where all candidates are treated equally and given equal opportunities to succeed. This is one of the best ways your team can see a bias-free workplace in action.
You may be wondering, "How can bias affect a job interview?" Or, if you're new to the industry, you may still be thinking, "What is interview bias?"
Interview bias can lead to recruiting decisions based on an applicant's race, gender, age, religion, and other characteristics instead of their qualifications. Bias in the recruitment and selection process happens when interviewers make assumptions about a person’s background or capabilities solely based on personal characteristics such as accent or ethnicity. This type of interview bias examples is discrimination and illegal under US law.
Interview bias psychology can also lead an interviewer to form a negative opinion of an applicant based on factors unrelated to the job they are applying for. For example, if the interviewer has a perception that people from certain backgrounds or cultures don't perform certain tasks well, it can lead them to form a negative opinion of the candidate without considering their relevant past performance, experience, skills, and qualifications.
If interviewer bias is having an effect on your hiring process and the quality of talent, it's important to take steps to correct any bias in the recruitment process. Reach out to someone from our team so we can help you create an equal opportunity for every applicant. Book your demo of Pillar, today.