Executive Talent Search & Digital Marketing for Mission-Driven Organizations | Bias-Free Interviewing – 7 Easy, Practical Steps
7 tips for Bias Free Interviewing

Bias-Free Interviewing – 7 Easy, Practical Steps

As we come to the end of the year, many organizations I work with are reflecting on their processes and coming up with plans to improve in 2024. One huge theme has been ensuring fair and unbiased hiring practices to promote equity and inclusion in the workplace.

 

We have been in the hiring game for a long time – 18 years and over 1,000 hires. And during this time, I’ve seen that even with the best intentions, unconscious bias can easily creep into the interview process, leading to inconsistent evaluations and unfair treatment of candidates. Interviewers can lean towards candidates that look like them, speak like them, or have similar social circles or educational backgrounds – without even knowing it!

 

Below, we’ve compiled 7 practical tips to help you create a bias-free interview process. These are easy to implement, so start improving your hiring process today!

1. Use a scorecard to decide who makes it to the first round of interviews from the applicant pool.

A scorecard is a tool that can help you ensure consistency in the hiring process by evaluating each candidate based on the same criteria. The scorecard should include objective criteria that are relevant to the role, such as years of experience, relevant skills, and education level. Assign a score to each criterion and use a threshold score to determine which candidates make it to the interview stage. By using a scorecard, you can avoid the temptation to subjectively prioritize certain qualifications or characteristics over others, which can lead to bias and a less diverse candidate pool.

2. Train interviewers to pass objective comments back to the hiring team.

It is common for interviewers to communicate strengths and “red flags” back to the hiring team so that these items can be probed in further interviews. When evaluating candidates, it’s important to focus on objective items that can be measured and compared. This includes factors such as experience, education, and technical skills. Avoid making subjective comments about a candidate’s personality, character, or background, as these can be influenced by personal biases and are difficult to compare objectively. Instead, focus on objective criteria that are relevant to the role and probe into specific examples or experiences that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to perform the job. A great way to make this easier is to use a scorecard, which we discuss next!

3. Use a fixed interview scorecard at each stage of the process.

To ensure consistency and fairness in the interview process, use a fixed interview scorecard that outlines the criteria you’re evaluating each candidate on. You can have different scorecards for different stages of the process, but all candidates at each stage should be evaluated on the same scorecard. This approach can help you avoid subjective evaluations and ensure that all candidates are evaluated on the same criteria. Be sure to train your interview team on how to use the scorecard effectively and encourage them to ask follow-up questions based on the candidate’s responses. A scorecard may have 4 or 5 important criteria, weighted by importance, and the interviewers give a score from 1-5 for each.

4. Use phone interviews for the first round instead of video.

While video interviews can be helpful in getting a sense of a candidate’s personality and demeanor, they can also introduce biases related to a candidate’s appearance, race, or gender. To promote fairness and reduce bias in the interview process, consider using phone interviews for at least the screening or first round. This approach can help you focus on a candidate’s qualifications and experience without introducing other factors that can influence the evaluation.

5. Diversify your interview panels.

Having a diverse interview panel can help you avoid unconscious biases and create a more inclusive hiring process. By including individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives, you can reduce the impact of individual biases and promote a more well-rounded evaluation of each candidate. Additionally, having a diverse interview panel can signal to candidates that your organization values diversity and inclusivity.

6. Conduct structured interviews with the same questions in the same order.

In structured interviews, each candidate is asked the same set of questions in the same order. The questions are written out to assure that even the wording is the same each time. This approach helps to ensure consistency and fairness in the interview process by providing a consistent basis for comparison across candidates. It also allows you to evaluate specific skills or competencies that are critical for the role without getting caught up in things that may subjectively appeal to an interviewer such as similar education or background. Be sure to avoid leading or biased questions and focus on objective criteria.

7. Train your interview team about bias in interviews.

Even with the best intentions, unconscious biases can still creep into the interview process. To help your interview team avoid these biases, provide training on how to identify and mitigate biases in interviews. This training should cover topics such as stereotype threat, affinity bias, and the impact of unconscious biases on decision-making. By providing your interview team with the tools and knowledge to reduce bias, you can promote a more inclusive hiring process.

Conclusion

Creating a bias-free interview process is critical for promoting equity and inclusivity in the workplace. Intention isn’t enough – it takes concrete systems being implemented to really start the process of reducing both implicit and explicit bias. By following these seven practical tips, you can help ensure that your hiring process is fair, consistent, and focused on the qualifications and experience of each candidate. I would love to know other tips that you have in the comments!

About Us

If you want to discuss how to create a bias-free hiring process for your organization, reach out to me at nshah@ManevaGroup.com.  We will schedule a no-cost, no obligation 30-minute consultation to discuss how to meet your goals.   Maneva Group is a woman and minority owned national Executive Search firm focusing on the social sector, with expertise in completely managing the recruiting process, curating diverse and exceptionally qualified candidate pools, and advising C-suite executives and board members through crucial hiring decisions.
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