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How to Prevent Interviewer Bias when Hiring

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Human Resources

01 December 2022

Everyone is subject to biases that impact how we perceive others and make decisions. Believe it or not, bias during interviews is one of the factors that cause recruiters to miss out on top talents.

Interviewer bias is when interviewers have a predetermined impression of an interviewee. It clouds their judgment and generally affects the objectivity of the interview.

Ideally, candidates are judged based on their motivation, experience, and skills. But sometimes, the judgment of these qualities can be tainted by bias. Research showed that one in four professionals has already experienced discrimination at some point during an interview.

As humans, we all carry some form of bias, either consciously or subconsciously. It can be affinity bias, confirmation bias, conformity bias, or the halo effect. Whichever is prevalent can hugely undermine recruitment efforts.

This problem interferes with the objective judgment of the interviewer in a way that makes it difficult to hire the right candidate.

So, interviewers must keep their biases aside in their judgment of candidates, so they can actually make the right decisions.

Let us look at some tips on how to prevent interviewer bias from creeping in while making hiring decisions.

Ways to prevent interviewer bias when hiring

Preventing bias from interfering with hiring decisions ensures objective recruitment of the best candidates.

Next are some steps to follow in order to prevent interviewer bias in the recruitment process:

Using interview guides

Interview guides help recruiters structure and order the flow of an interview. They allow employers to focus on the factors that have a direct impact on performance. And they also show them what to focus on, what questions to ask, and when.
With interview guides, a recruiting organization will be able to conduct interviews in a consistent and compliant manner. This guarantees that applicants would have the same experience during interviews, in the absence of any bias.
However, an interview guide is subject to change based on the industry and job requirements.

Reconsidering the job description

Job descriptions play a vital role in recruitment. Their content determines whether a job seeker will apply for the job or not.

For instance, including certain titles that are male-oriented in your job description may discourage women from applying. And the same goes for men in case the titles are female-oriented.

One way to avoid this is by including neutral descriptive titles, like "engineer," "developer" or "project manager".
This will encourage candidates to apply for your job openings, being sure that everyone has an equal chance of landing the job.

Using blind CVs and resumes

Not all information is required to be on a CV. Religion, address, and hobbies, for example, are irrelevant to determine if a candidate qualifies for a position or not.

Some of this information will inevitably lead interviewers to be biased when making hiring decisions. Thus, in order to avoid this, you’d better aim for blind CVs.

So in case, you find certain information to be irrelevant to the job qualifications, “blind” the resume yourself by removing the said information. This will allow candidates to be assessed solely on their qualifications without any interviewer bias involved.

Using standard scoring criteria

Use standard scoring criteria to rate applicants during interviews. It makes the hiring process more objective and less biased. This way, applicants will be judged based on the same criteria and will be easily compared to each other to know who performed best.
Interview scorecards are one example you can incorporate into the interview process. Interview scorecards with clear scoring criteria are highly effective in reducing unconscious bias when recruiting.
Also, interviewers can score candidates immediately when using interview scorecards, before even consulting with other interviewers.

Recruiting from different locations and channels

Another factor that may generate interviewer bias is location. Remember not to limit your recruitment to one location. It would be best to advertise in a wide variety of places.
You can also bring in candidates from various channels. This will naturally diversify your talent pool and reduce the risk of creating bias.

Social media, niche job boards, and professional events are good sources to employ in order to expand the types of candidates applying for your roles.

Reducing small talk

There should always be room for a bit of small talk to help ease candidates' feelings during interviews. However, bias can creep in when there’s too much small talk, or when the conversation topic contributes to building bias.

So, as much as small talk is welcome, it should be kept to a minimum. Scripting interview questions is an excellent way to help limit the level of potential bias that can come from small talk.

Having multiple people conduct interviews

Another way you can prevent bias during interviews is to have multiple people conduct the interview. This way, you get unbiased judgments from different interviewers, allowing you to make a more precise decision.
You can create an interview panel consisting of various members of your team. They can be selected based on age, gender, background, seniority level, and their position in your organization.

A well-diversified interview panel, rather than a single person or a team of like-minded individuals, will reduce the chances of interviewer bias to happen.

After the interview, you can compare the panel’s evaluations of the candidates to arrive at a decision.

Training your interviewers

Aside from incorporating strategies into your recruitment process, it is critical to provide sufficient training to your interview team first.

Everyone involved in the process should have access to diversity education and training. They should be educated on equality and diversity and how to minimize interviewer bias during recruitment.

This would help reduce the influence of concealed intolerances and prejudices. Moreover, it would also provide a more equitable system for all the interviewed candidates.

Closing thoughts

We are all affected by bias whether we like it or not. But, once it's acknowledged and recognized, just like every other problem, it will be easier to avoid.

The tips outlined above are not a checklist per se, but they can definitely help you conduct a bias-free recruitment process. Initiating these tips and educating hiring managers on this topic will help you create a healthier and more welcoming workplace.