When you’re trying to find an excellent person to hire into your organization, it can be challenging not to let unconscious bias stand in the way. During recruitment, you may be used to using unstructured interviews so that you can ask the candidate any question that’s on your mind. However, one way to improve the quality of your hires is by using a bias-free structured interview process.
How does Bias Affect Recruitment?
Unfortunately, unconscious bias affects the ways that we act, react, and behave every day in and outside of the workplace. Bias refers to judging others based on specific characteristics, and it can be either conscious or unconscious. It may be to do with race, gender, age, or a whole host of other traits.
Specifically, interview bias is when an interviewer makes a judgment about a candidate on anything other than their competencies related to the position. For example, assuming the person isn’t experienced enough due to their age. If a person is qualified for the role, then they may be the right candidate to select regardless of their age or other characteristics.
Interviewer bias can cause hiring managers to make bad hiring decisions, cause low productivity for the new recruit, and ultimately increase the rate of turnover. When you can start to make more objective hiring decisions by reducing bias, then you can improve the quality of your hires.
Types of Interviewer Bias
To run a bias-free structured interview process, you must first be aware of the different types of bias that may happen in an interview. There are too many different kinds to list them all, but a few important ones are summarized below.
- Similar to me – people often gravitate towards candidates that remind them of themselves. This is precisely how organizations end up being predominantly made up of people who are the same gender and race, so avoid hiring based on this bias at all costs.
- Stereotypes – judging an individual based on the group they belong to instead of their personal traits is known as stereotyping. For example, a manager wanting to hire a woman for an administrative role, as they believe women to be more organized, and therefore rejecting male candidates.
- Halo effect – when you are impressed by one characteristic of a candidate, this can make the areas in which they are lacking seem less important. Focus on who has the most skills for the position, and don’t let one great trait cloud your judgement.
- Horn effect – as the name suggests, this is the opposite of the halo effect. Sometimes, you will discover early on that the interviewee doesn’t meet one of your criteria and mentally, you may give up on them. However, don’t write them off just yet; they may have all of the other required skills and be a better candidate than many others.
How to Create a Bias-Free Structured Interview Process
Create an Interview Guide
As a recruiter, creating an interview guide is extremely useful to help hiring managers use a consistent interview structure. It can enable all candidates to have the same interview experience and can also help to reduce bias.
A good interview guide should include the interview method, types of interview questions, company requirements, and tips for the interviewer.
Have a Panel of Interviewers
The reason that so many businesses use panel interviews is that insights from multiple people can reduce bias and improve the quality of the hire. Many of us are prone to hiring those who remind us of ourselves. However, when a variety of interviewers are used, this bias is less likely to come into play. For this reason, try to get different types of people on the panel. Maybe you’ll have the hiring manager, an HR representative, and perhaps even a colleague from another department for an outside perspective.
Use the Same Questions for Each Candidate
Interview questions will change when you interview for different roles; however, they should remain the same for each person interviewing for the same position. Standardized interview questions offer an equal chance for all interviewees to impress the panel during the recruitment process. Having a set of defined questions also prevents you from steering off-topic and makes for more consistent questioning.
Give Each Candidate a Grade
It may seem strange to grade candidates, but doing so can provide you with more objective insight into how the interviews went. Start by defining which skills are required for the role you’re interviewing for. Then you can score interviewees on how well they meet each of your criteria. For example, if you need someone who has experience in particular software, you can give them 5/5 for plenty of experience or a 3/5 for some experience. At the end, add up your scores and see which candidate came out on top. Often, it turns out to be someone completely different than you expected.
You may be surprised by how helpful it is to make notes during the interview process. Many recruiters don’t do this because they prefer to go off how they feel about a candidate. However, if you truly want a bias-free structured interview process, then notes can be extremely useful. A gut feeling can sometimes be just you reacting to unconscious bias. By writing everything down, you are able to clearly see where some candidates have more skills than others, despite your overall impression.
You could even go as far as to create a sheet with all of your standardized interview questions and room for notes on each one. This will keep things structured, and you can make brief notes while understanding what they were in reference to.
To make better hires, you need to develop a solid bias-free structured interview process. Many of the above ideas are cost-free and straightforward to implement; try out some of them and see whether your hire quality improves.