Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace begins with fair and unbiased job interviews. While biases can unintentionally seep into the interview process, it's essential to actively address and mitigate them.
Avoiding bias and promoting diversity in interviews comes down to one word: preparation. Preparedness in this situation means recognizing where biases can surface and creating a game plan that ensures you conduct fair and effective interviews.
In this blog, we will explore practical strategies and actionable tips to help you avoid bias and promote diversity during the interview process.
Perfecting Job Descriptions
A successful and inclusive interview begins well before you meet the first candidate. It starts with writing a job description that's free from bias.
Below are a few screening tips you can use to perfect your job descriptions:
- Avoid using adjectives that could imply gender. Having gender-inclusive job descriptions is important because it shows potential candidates that everyone is welcome and respected at your organization, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
- Look out for items in a job description that could promote racial bias. Avoid commenting on desired appearance or language that someone could interpret as discriminatory. Simply focus on the skills and experience required for the position.
- Limit Business jargon or overly complicated concepts in the qualifications for a position. Every organization is different, each with its own terms and phrases to describe. When in doubt, use standard terminology within a job description.
For more helpful info that you can use to craft well-written and structured job descriptions, check out our blog "How to Write Job Descriptions that Attract Top Talent."
Educate Interviewers on Unconscious Bias
Educating interviewers about unconscious biases fosters self-awareness and creates a more inclusive interview setting. A few ways to do this include:
- Facilitating open discussions about biases.
- Leading bias workshops.
- Providing resources to help interviewers recognize and challenge their preconceptions.
Education can help interviewers make fair and unbiased hiring decisions based on a candidate's qualifications and potential, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or other personal traits.
Unconscious biases are deeply ingrained stereotypes or attitudes that influence our judgments and decisions without our conscious awareness.
Establish a Level Playing Field
Establishing a structured process is essential to eliminating bias during interviews. Here are a few tips to ensure your interview process is fair and unbiased:
- Remove identifying info from resumes to ensure you focus on qualifications, not traits like names, age, or address.
- Standardize interviews to ensure you are comparing candidates on equal footing. An article by the Academy to Innovate HR recommends asking all candidates the same questions.
- Start with a phone screen to mitigate bias. Starting on the phone allows you to interview candidates without judgment on physical appearance or body language.
- Create an interview guide for identifying candidates that will add to your organizational culture. Looking for people who fit your culture can create bias, so instead, look for people who will elevate or add to it.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your focus remains solely on a candidate's responses and qualifying skills.
Diversify Interview Panels
Incorporating different viewpoints can foster a more inclusive evaluation process and lead to better-informed hiring decisions. By including a diverse range of interviewers, you bring in different perspectives and reduce the risk of bias. Aim for diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, and background.
Interview Questions You Should Ask
The most effective interview questions are tailored to a specific position. Asking situational and behavioral questions related to that position will offer you a deeper understanding of your candidate’s experience and preferences while limiting bias.
To better understand how a candidate would handle a hypothetical situation, ask questions that will showcase where their priorities lie and how they think on their feet. For example, questions that answer, “How would you…”
- Handle an angry customer?”
- Work with a colleague you don’t like?”
- Handle a disagreement with your manager?”
- Prioritize multiple tasks from different managers?”
- Handle an unproductive subordinate?”
Asking behavioral questions provides a window into a candidate’s past experience and understanding of how they handle challenging situations. For example, questions that answer, “Tell us about a time when you…”
- Mishandled a situation and what you learned?”
- Went above and beyond for a client?”
- Had a conflict with a colleague, and how you resolved it?”
- Had to think on your feet?”
- Managed multiple tasks at one time?”
Collect and Analyze Data
To ensure fairness and inclusivity in the hiring process, it is essential to gather data during interviews. This data can reveal any patterns of bias and help evaluate the success of diversity initiatives. By analyzing candidate demographics, interview ratings, and hiring outcomes, you can identify areas where prejudice may exist and make further improvements to promote diversity.
When we think about bias and its meaning, it is easy to view the concept through a black-and-white lens. Like all things, however, there are gray areas. Remaining proactive and educating ourselves on this landscape means we will be well-equipped to handle situations that deal with any type of bias when they arise.
Interested in learning more about conducting interviews free from bias? Download The World-Class Recruitment Guide, a need-to-know recruiting resource.