In a perfect world, as recruitment specialists, we would all like to think that we carry no bias when we interview candidates. But the truth is that each of us experiences some level of unconscious bias. And this can influence the selection process when assessing the candidates we interview.
So, what do you do when interview bias starts creeping into your recruitment and talent acquisition process?
First let’s take a look at the types of interview bias you are likely to be dealing with.
Interview bias types
There are many different forms of interview bias that can unfairly influence a candidate’s chances of securing a role. Here is an infographic outlining the most common forms of interview bias.
It is virtually impossible to remove all interview bias from a recruitment and talent acquisition process. But there are many things you CAN do to help alleviate most interview bias.
Alleviating interview bias will lead to a fairer interview processes and more effective hires! That is great for your work place culture and your company results.
Tips for reducing interview bias
Ensure your interview script has a well balanced list of open ended questions
It is always best to create a job description for every role you are interviewing for. This allows you to make sure you ask a series of questions of candidates that align specifically with the requirements of the role.
Create a list of job-related skills that are important for the position. Target your evaluation of each candidate based solely on the job-related skills and requirements that you create to avoid personal judgments.
Look at each of the requirements for the role being interviewed for. Come up with a well rounded set of questions that address these requirements evenly.
Try not to ask too many questions about one specific aspect of the job unless that is absolutely necessary. This allows you to assess candidate overall suitability for the role.
Ask a series of behavioural interview questions
Behavioural interview questions are designed to allow candidates the opportunity to talk about their past professional experiences. How candidates have responded in past situations is seen to be a solid predictor of their future response. As such, behavioural questions form an important role in any quality interview process.
Behavioural interview questions remove interview bias because…
Ask each candidate the same questions
It is really important to standardise the interview process. Try interviewing each candidate with the same interview process using the same list of questions. Where possible also interview candidates in the same space. This allows each candidate an even playing field to perform within.
Asking different questions of different candidates can lead to a skewed view of the candidate set. Asking the same questions of each candidates allows you to compare “apples with apples” around candidate suitability.
Collate feedback before talking with others
Many companies implement a recruitment process including multiple interviewers or a panel of interviewers. It is important to give each of these interviewers the chance to collate their feedback independently before sharing and comparing feedback with other interviewers.
It can be very tempting to share your feedback with your colleagues before the candidate has even left your building. But if you decide to have a conversation before each interviewer has had the chance to collect their thoughts and finalise their notes, you are doing the candidate a disservice. One interviewer may unfairly influence the feedback of another interviewer when a robust process is not followed.
Within your recruitment and talent acquisition process, create very clear directives for interviewers about how and when they should share feedback with one another.
In addition, ensure your company never asks unlawful or unethical questions of candidates. Only questions related to the job the candidate is applying for, should be posed.
Offer interview training
Train anyone in your organisation who interviews candidates how to interview professionally. Use this training to highlight the types of interview bias that can occur when interviewing candidates and help your interviewers learn how to avoid these biases.
Spending time with your people to encourage self reflection about unconscious biases is a really useful exercise. Higher quality talent is drawn to companies that offer a professional, unbiased interview process. Be that company!
Avoid unstructured interviewing
Creating quality hires relies on a robust, fair and professional interview process. Heading into an interview unprepared, without a set of pre-prepared interview questions, is unfair on candidates and a disaster for your company. Why?
Because you are not giving the candidate a fair shot at the role you are interviewing for or creating an exceptional interview process which will attract exceptional talent to want to work with you.
Prepared interview questions and better yet, a standard interview form, will ensure you ask questions about all of the parameters of the role. It will mitigate the risk of spending time disproportionately on areas of personal interest and reduce the risk of asking questions which can lead to interview bias.
Involve more than one interviewer
Involving more than one person in your interview process ensures that a variety of opinions and points of view are heard.
Any interview process that relies on the opinion of just one person can lead to some poor quality hires. You can overcome this by having two interviewers conduct the one interview, have candidates undertake a series of interviews or create a panel of interviewers.
Remember the importance of allowing each interviewer to collect their thoughts and jot down their feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate before talking with one another or others in your company. This will limit unfair influence and allow you to consider various points of view when assessing candidate suitability for a role.
Embrace a continuous improvement mindset
Education and continuous training is the key to removing interview bias from your recruitment process. Without interview bias interfering greatly with your hiring process, you will make better quality hires. Better quality hires lead to a more successful company. Now that’s worth pursuing.
Audit questions to identify interview bias
If you are serious about removing as much interview bias as possible from your recruitment and talent acquisition process, consider the following questions:
When did we last check the interview questions we use to interview candidates? Do any of our questions require review?
Who interviews candidates within the company? When was each of these people last trained in interview techniques including tips for avoiding interview bias?
Do we have Job Descriptions in place for each of the roles in our company? Are our interview questions for each role aligned to those Job Descriptions?
Do interviewers understand that they must not discuss any candidates with one another until after independent notes have been made on each candidate interview?
Does our current interview question set include content that could lead to interview bias being displayed?
Do we include behavioural interview questions in our standard interview process?
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