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. This approach is a win-win for both you and the candidate, as your preparedness can ease your anxieties and breed a comfortable environment for candidates to be their authentic self.
Perfecting job descriptions
A successful interview, free from bias and engaging diverse candidates, means establishing a keen screening process that starts first and foremost with job descriptions, a topic addressed in one of our previous blogs. Gender inclusivity is paramount in job descriptions, so avoiding adjectives that could imply gender roles is important.
Educational preferences, comments on desired appearance, and language proficiency are other qualifiers that can promote racial bias. Be mindful of how you state qualifiers in job descriptions and abstain from using business jargon or overly complicated concepts.
Establish a level playing field
Eliminating bias during interviews means establishing a structured process. An article by the Academy to Innovate HR recommends providing all candidates with the same questions to help standardize interviews. An interview guide helps adapt consistent practices and can be great assistance in determining those candidates that match your organizational culture. You can find sample interview questions in our ebook, How to Find the Right Cultural Fit for Your Company.
When you start asking questions that stray from your standard set of interview questions, you may fall prey to a “like me” bias—that is, identifying with a candidate based on similar interests such as style, education, or personality. For the first interview, a phone screen is a great way to mitigate bias as there can be no judgment on physical appearance or body language. Instead, the focus remains solely on a candidate’s responses and qualifying skills.
The types of questions you should be asking
The most effective interview questions are tailored to the specific position. Asking situational and behavioral questions related to that position will offer you a deeper understanding of your candidate’s experience and preferences.
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?”
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 keeping ourselves educated 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 our latest eBook, The World-Class Recruitment Guide, a need-to-know recruiting resource.