Hiring Managers & Diversity: How To Take The Bias Out Of Your Interviewing Process

It was less than a year ago that employers found themselves in a talent war. Unemployment was at a low and employees called the shots. The world has been turned on its head and for now, the employment market is definitely in the employer’s favor. But hiring the right person isn’t just about quantity and availability. It’s primarily about quality.

Quality hires are no longer just about what’s on the resume. It’s about someone who will help elevate and evolve the company to survive and thrive well into the future. Having a diverse workforce is not about hitting some magic demographic number. It’s about bringing in viewpoints and perspectives that match the global market that most companies serve today. How do you minimize or remove the bias that is present in all of us from the hiring process?

Below are some tips all hiring managers should consider to minimize their bias as much as possible.

Build a strong business case for the job.

Often, the reason for the job posting is not examined. Someone leaves and people want to backfill them. Work gets busy and leaders want to add headcount to relieve the pressure. Sometimes the recruiting or talent acquisition team will require some level of explanation of why the job needs to be filled, but it may not cover the points that make for a strong business case.

Jobs with strong business cases can help minimize the opportunity for bias because they are tied directly to work that needs to get done vs. simply trying to replicate someone who used to do the job or is currently doing the work but needs more hands on deck. The following questions are worth considering as you determine whether to post a job opening:

  1. What do you envision your team being able to do for the organization a year from now?
  2. What is the ideal headcount and skills of the team that best support this vision?
  3. Which skills and capabilities will this role fulfill that your current team is not able to do?
  4. What is the expected positive impact of this role a year from now?
  5. How does the work need to be delivered so that the approach aligns with your company and team values?

Design an objective job posting.

Drafting the job description is a critical step in the process. This will be what draws in a potential candidate or causes them to not see themselves as a match. How that job posting is written is critical for ensuring you are attracting a truly diverse talent pool. Leveraging technology can help ensure the job postings are written from an objective perspective.

“As the more than 40 million American workers who have been displaced, we are committed to working with employers to provide them with tools and technology to build a diverse talent pipeline with an eye on improving the employment and wage disparities experienced by women and minorities, helping to drive change and positioning our clients to come back strong.” said Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder, a global technology company that provides end-to-end talent acquisition solutions.

Humair Ghauri, Chief Product & Technology Officer of CareerBuilder, discussed the new Talent Acquisition Suite the company has launched to help employers do just that. “Our technology ensures job postings are built based on skills. We use AI to take out the details that could lead to unconscious bias. It takes out the human error of creating terms and words that reflect a tendency towards a demographic that isn’t relevant to the job,” shared Ghauri.

Examine and manage your own personal bias as a hiring manager.

No matter who you are or how evolved you may be as a human, you are bound to have biases. They may not be in the area of race or gender, though living in a biased society makes it very difficult for any of us to escape the social messages that are thrown at us on a daily basis. The first step is to simply embrace your human side and realizing that you too have your own bias. Some may be more unconscious than conscious, but it impacts the decisions we make and that can be critical when hiring new candidates.

A great way to check your bias is to list your top ten people in your ‘circle of trust.’ Who are they? These can be people that you trust for different reasons. But they are all people that you view as people you listen to and lean on regarding key areas of your life. One might be your work person, while another may be your spiritual guide. Another may simply be the person you rely on to up your fun factor in life. Next, review the demographics of this group. Is there a common gender, race, age, economic status, sexual identity or other variable that seems to run through your group? If so, this is where your biases may lie. This doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human and it’s important to be realistic about that when entering the hiring process.

Partner with others to ensure a broad perspective on candidates.

Our humanness is why it’s so important to make the hiring process a collaborative one. This could by your partnership with your assigned recruiter or other managers. Depending on the role, you could enlist the help of a diverse interview panel. This way you can look at different perspectives and ensure there’s not something you can’t see about your own assessment. The diversity you’re looking for can be demographic but also functional. Sometimes having people from different levels and job areas can bring in a more dimensional view of which candidate could make the best hire. The most important thing to remember is to not go it alone.

Ensure all discussions and documentation throughout the interview process stick to ‘above the line’ commentary.

Our biases show up in how we communicate. What we say and what we write can sway others to align with our biases or cause issues and throw our judgment into question. Keeping our commentary ‘above the line’ helps keep our thoughts and decisions objective as well. Above the line commentary focuses on the following:

  • Factual observations – detailing descriptions of what was seen or heard, completely void of personal assumptions or judgements. Ex: The candidate answered all technical questions accurately.
  • Factual summaries – generalizations of tangible details. Ex: The candidate gave several relevant examples of handling challenges on the job.
  • Personal opinions / judgments of performance – your views on how someone behaved regarding interview questions or challenges. Ex: The candidate did a great job fielding various questions from the panel, while showing up calm and came across as knowing quite a bit about the role.

What equates below the line commentary and therefore has no business in the interview process includes the following and should be eliminated from any discussions or documentation:

  • Personal opinions / judgments of a person’s thought process or personality – your views on someone’s internal thought process or value statements of their character. Ex: The candidate didn’t seem passionate enough and way too focused on work/life balance issues.
  • Statements regarding someone’s race, gender, age, sexual identity, religious affiliations, etc. – any commentary on topics that are focused on a particular demographic affiliation of the candidate. Ex: The candidate seems to learn quickly for someone their age.

Taking the time and leveraging the technology and partnerships to help minimize bias in the hiring process is just the first step in creating a truly diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. However, it is a critical step that all hiring managers need to work on getting right.

Written by H.V. MacArthur, originally posted by

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