How to Avoid Bias When Hiring

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It’s difficult to avoid bias when you’re hiring a new employee. Every single person has a distinct worldview that’s shaped by his or her life experiences—you do, too. And our unique worldview also gives us a unique set of biases.

These biases come in all shapes and sizes. There might be personalities that rub us the wrong way, or maybe we’re favorable to a certain kind of personality. Maybe we judge appearances too much. Maybe our ideal perception of an employee isn’t relevant for the position being hired for, or vice versa.

Regardless, there are three simple ways you can avoid bias when you’re hiring. Here’s what they are.

Standardize Your Interviewing Process

One of the best ways to avoid interview bias is to standardize your hiring practice. Come up with a set of interview procedures that you’ll use for all candidates so that your interviewing remains consistent across all candidates.

You might consider coming up with a list of questions that you’ll ask each and every candidate. It’s okay to deviate outside of those questions, but limit yourself to only two or three questions that aren’t on the list. When you have a bias toward or for a certain job candidate, you might get tempted to ask questions that are obviously geared toward shedding a negative or positive light on them. By narrowing your field of questions, you can prevent bias from getting the better of you.

You should also schedule each interview in the exact same way. Try your best to schedule interviews for a certain time of day so you’ll be in a similar state of mind for each candidate. If there’s a certain procedure you do, like giving tours of the office or having your colleagues join the interview, make sure you do that for all candidates that come in. If you need help with interview standardization, schedule each interview with an HR scheduling app.

Use Recruitment Software

Avoid bias by using recruitment software. Online job boards are a great advantage to your company because they have automated programs that will scour through all the applications that have been submitted and pick a handful of resumes that appear best qualified for the position you’re hiring for. All you’ve got to do is list some key attributes that you need from applicants, and the job boards will select the best ones from the list. Computers don’t have biases, like people do.

Another important recruitment software you can use is a pre-employment screening program. These will provide you with prospective employee background checks so you’ll know if your job candidates have criminal records. Obviously, a speeding ticket might not be very concerning, unless you’re hiring a driver. But you want to avoid hiring someone who has a history of violent crimes or theft.

You’d be surprised at how major offenses and liabilities go ignored by interviewers who are overly flattered by a job candidate’s personality. Some interviewers may be more inclined to give a job candidate a pass on prior criminal offenses, while also passing on other job candidates for the same offenses. Create a standardized list of criminal offenses that you’re willing to overlook, and those which you are not. Then make sure you run background checks on all your job candidates and use your standards to fairly evaluate each of them.

Focus on Candidates’ Skillset

The most difficult part about hiring a new employee is that we must separate our personal life from our professional life. Personally, we may have strong opinions about personality types. Professionally, our goal is to help our business grow by making a smart choice in the hiring process. Our job is to evaluate a candidate based on their professional skill set, and not necessarily their personality.

That’s not to say you should hire an employee who’s rude or inappropriate—you can’t hire someone who’s going to cause workplace distractions. But you should try and look past someone being “too loud”, “too quiet,” or “too quirky” and try and focus on what skills they have that can help your business maximize its profits.

Separating our personal from professional life is an easier thing to talk about than to practice. But try this exercise: is there an artist you love who may have a less-than-stellar personality? For example, Caravaggio was a notorious drunkard with anger management issues, but he was a brilliant artist. Perhaps that’s a bad example because you don’t want to hire a drunkard with anger management issues. But the point is, put skillset ahead of personality. You’re not hiring a best friend. You’re hiring a professional.

Hiring bias can significantly hamper your company because it can cause you to bring on an employee who’s underqualified or is just not right for the business. But you can avoid hiring bias by standardizing your interview process, by using recruitment software, and by training yourself to focus on a candidate’s core skillset.

As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.