5 Ways to Remove Unconscious Bias From Your Hiring Process

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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: How does your company ensure its recruiting and hiring processes are as bias-free as possible?

dave1. Don’t Limit Yourself to Certain Schools

A lot of companies in the San Francisco Bay Area corner themselves by hiring from Ivy League and upper-echelon schools only. This may seem like a strong move, but it prevents companies from building strong and diverse cultures. Yes, Stanford has an excellent MBA program, but the curriculum is strikingly similar to the MBA program at California State University, East Bay, where the student body is rich in diversity and reflects the community of the Bay Area.

Try to think outside of the box. Remember that there are thousands of highly qualified people who may have taken different paths toward education or experience. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to go to Stanford or University of California, Berkeley, but they are just as ready, qualified, and eager as their counterparts.

Dave Lopes, Badger Maps  

kerr2. Diversify the Hiring Team

By having a diverse group of people sift through resumes and conduct interviews, each member of the team can easily help counteract and eliminate one another’s implicit biases. In this way, you can ensure that the most suitable candidate for the job is hired.

Matthew Kerr, Resume Genius  

Marc3. Hold ‘Blind Auditions’

Many orchestras hold auditions where the candidates perform behind a screen. This allows the judges to focus solely on the quality of the music they play.

We do something similar. Depending on the the position, we may ask for “up front” work before speaking with the candidate.

For example, we are currently looking for an editor-in-chief. Before speaking with candidates, we ask them to write a short essay on their management philosophy. We expect them to address communication, mentoring, feedback, and setting expectations in the essay. Those who have a strong resume and write a good essay move on to the interview process. Because of the amount of screening that goes on before the interview, we know that each person with whom we speak has strong credentials and deserves serious consideration before we hear their voice or see their face.

Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business  

robin4. Standardize Your Processes

In order to ensure the recruiting and hiring process is as bias-free as possible, we implement a standard application procedure as well as other standardized tools. For example, all applicants are asked the same questions during phone interviews. If a hiring manager wishes to give an applicant a job assessment, we first evaluate the assessment to confirm it is applicable to the role and then ensure that all applicants are asked to complete the same assessment. Consistency is key in removing bias from hiring processes.

Robin Schwartz, MFG Jobs 

william5. Do as Much Assessment as Possible Before the In-Person Interview

It is neither wise nor usually possible to avoid an in-person interview before making a hire, but I think it does level the playing field if you do as much evaluation as you can before that in-person interview. This evaluation might take the form of phone interviews, email questionnaires, or do-at-home tests. (This is good practice anyway, because these processes usually take less of your time than the in-person interview. It is a more efficient way to winnow the field.)

As the one who hires, it is possible that I might glean clues as to the ethnicity of a candidate and subconsciously exhibit bias. The only way I know to fight that is to have a meta-awareness of the issue and make sure I resist facile assumptions. What I fear more, frankly, is a bias that is talked about less often – bias on the basis of personal attractiveness. Having the first interview be on the phone helps mitigate that.

William Gadea, IdeaRocket 

By Recruiter Q&A