8 Actionable Ways to Keep Bias Out of Your Hiring Process

As a hiring manager or business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You have to draft up job descriptions, spend time sifting through resumes, go through phone screenings, and conduct either a virtual or in-person interview. Even hiring just one employee can be hours of time and thousands of dollars in resources. On top of all the expense, time, and brainpower required, you also need to think about your internal biases and the diversity in your workplace.

Fostering a diverse workplace is more than just paying lip service to corporate values and hitting percentages: it can actually improve your business. A Harvard Business Review study found that businesses with a more diverse workforce tended to show more market growth and exhibit more innovation. Unfortunately, there are still many issues found in workplaces across the country: ableism, misogyny, racism, and ageism. With that said, there are steps you can take to make sure that your company supports diversity, not just race or gender, but also diversity of thought and perspectives. Creating an inclusive culture isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a worthwhile journey to take.

Below, we’ll dive into actionable steps you can take to keep bias out of your hiring process.

Take a Hard Look at Your Job Descriptions

When you’re starting the recruiting process, one of the first things on your to-do list is writing an accurate job description. In order to remove bias, make sure to use gender-neutral, inclusive language in any written communications. Even when you’re responding to candidate applications, try to remove salutations like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” – instead, refer to candidates by their first and last names.

There are also text analysis tools you can use that can help point out biased or problematic phrasing that could turn off certain applicants.

Don’t Look at Names of Resumes

If you feel like you can’t remove your unconscious biases as you sort through initial applications, it’s a good idea to ask another manager to take the names or age off resumes. This will help you focus on the skills and certifications a candidate has – rather than their gender, name, or other revealing details.

Know Your Company’s Sponsorship Policies

It’s important to state in job descriptions and other candidate communications whether or not your company can sponsor foreign workers who might need H1B transfer or Green Cards to work. If you’re serious about potentially hiring someone from out of the country, it’s smart to partner with an immigration company to smooth out the process.

Use a Structured Interview

If you’re a hiring manager, you might have a lot of experience interviewing and screening candidates. That can actually be a weakness if you’re too comfortable interviewing candidates and use interviews as an informal exercise to see whether or not a person will “fit in” at your company. Perhaps you rely on a free-flowing conversational interview to determine who a candidate “really is.” Unfortunately, this style of interviewing is problematic. Whether you realize it or not, these interviews often result in highly subjective results. Additionally, if you are a naturally nervous person or are nervous giving such a structured interview, try calming your nerves by taking something like this Objective calm stomach supplement.

Instead of formless interviews, come to the interview with a clear objective of what pieces of knowledge about the candidate you’d like to walk away with. Write down specific questions that you ask each candidate, using the same language and tone each time. Although these structured interviews can feel stuffy, they’re a great way to evaluate the differences between candidates without relying on biases you may not even know you have.

Evaluate Candidates Using Agreed-Upon Criteria

Although asking the same questions to each candidate can help, it’s also important to create a scorecard for their answers. This will help remove any unconscious biases and help you ensure that each candidate was given fair consideration during the hiring process.

Use a Skills Test

A skills test is a smart way to investigate a candidate’s potential, but make sure your assessment is validated. Validated assessments are screened to remove bias and are an effective way of testing applicants.

If a skills test doesn’t make sense for an applicant or role, you can also ask for samples of past work, as well.

Stick to Your Diversity Goals

Make measurable goals that you can track, monitor, and make progress toward. You’ll never know if you hit your target unless you actually set the goals up in the first place.

If you want to attract a well-rounded group of candidates for a job, make sure you take steps to prove your inclusive culture. Make diversity and your diversity goals prominent on your company website, place job postings on easily accessible job boards, and use internal networking.

You may also want to consider candidates who don’t have the exact skillset you’re looking for but have fantastic transferable skills that would be a boon for your company. Specific role requirements can always be learned, after all.

Be Careful of the Pitfalls of Likeability

Whether or not you ‘like’ a candidate can color your interpretation of them as a person. This can have a negative, neutral, or positive overall effect. Unfortunately, likeability is incredibly subjective and if you gel with someone based on common interests, it can lead to very biased hiring decisions. Consider giving likeability a score based on how important it is to the role, job, and team. Does it matter how likeable the person is in order for him or her to do the job? If not, make sure you don’t give preferences to people you simply get along with. Keep your evaluation as objective as possible.

Conclusion

Removing 100% of your biases is next to impossible. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile goal to pursue, especially as America grows more diverse. In order to fight against your own preconceived notions, it’s important to make sure your hiring process is as objective as possible. Use a set criterion to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate, assessments, and acknowledge your own biases. With these tips, you can build a framework for more inclusive hiring.

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