By definition, bias is a prejudice or pre-formed opinion not based on fact. In the context of the hiring process, bias can manifest itself in a number of ways, from the types of candidates considered for a role to the questions asked during an interview. Eliminating bias from the hiring process is vital because it can lead to suboptimal hiring decisions, a lack of diversity, and an echo chamber of a culture.
Types of Bias
There are a number of different types of bias that can impact the hiring process. The first is appearance. When people are judged off the bat for their age, race, or gender, assumptions are made the moment eyes are laid on them. Assumptions that convince the interviewer why they should or shouldn’t be hired. These decisions can revolve around years of experience, country of origin, and many other irrelevancies that don’t pertain to the position at hand. Another bias referred to as the “Halo Effect” is when an interviewer is wowed by how well someone interviewed and thinks they’re the one for the job. Communication skills are always a plus, but that’s just one bullet in the job description. Lastly, the Contrast Effect is another common and, unfortunately, easily-to-slip-into bias when interviewers compare candidates to each other rather than the role. Best practice in the hiring process is to compare each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses against the role requirements.
How to Recognize Bias
So how can you eliminate bias from the hiring process? The first step is to recognize if you or someone you know is exhibiting bias. Some common signs include hiring those who look like you or are similar to you in other ways, only considering candidates who meet certain criteria (e.g., Ivy League schools), and asking leading questions during interviews. If you suspect that someone is exhibiting bias, there are a number of steps that can be taken to eliminate it from the hiring process.
How to Eliminate Bias
First, it’s important to develop objective criteria for what makes a successful candidate for a role based on the specific skills and abilities necessary for success in the role and nothing else. Evaluate candidates against established criteria in an objective manner. Once these criteria have been established, all candidates should be evaluated against them in an objective manner. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that everyone involved in the hiring process is asking the candidates the same questions, giving everyone a fair chance. Finally, creating an environment where diverse perspectives are valued and encouraged is essential, which can be done by ensuring that there is diversity among those involved in the hiring process, recruiting from a diverse pool from the onset, and encouraging open dialogue about different points of view.
With company culture at the heart of many workplace conversations, hiring without bias has never been more critical. It is important to address the issue if you think that you or someone you know may be exhibiting bias in the hiring process, it is important to address the issue. Talk to your supervisor or HR department about ways to eliminate bias from the hiring process and take steps to ensure that all candidates are being fairly evaluated.
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