HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

1 Thing You Can Count on in the Hiring Process: Bias

Biases are like noses: We all have them. They impact our personal and professional lives, and despite attempts at avoiding biased decisions, we’re often unaware of our own biases, as many are unconscious. This is particularly problematic during the hiring process.


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Unfortunately, even practiced hiring managers and HR pros can fall victim to various types of bias.

Taking Steps to Minimize Bias

While it may be difficult to entirely remove bias from the hiring process, there are steps that can be taken to minimize its impacts. Harvard Business Review Contributor Rebecca Knight offers seven tips to reduce hiring bias:

  1. Seek to understand. Evaluate your hiring process, who’s involved, and the steps they take to make hiring decisions, with an eye toward addressing steps in the process that may introduce bias.
  2. Rework job descriptions. Research has indicated that job descriptions may be inherently biased because many contain words that reflect masculine language, says Knight. Software programs can help identify problematic areas.
  3. Go blind for the résumé review. Here, again, software can help by removing names and other identifying characteristics that may lead to bias.
  4. Give a sample work test. When hiring, the focus should clearly be on candidates’ abilities to do the jobs. Work or skills tests can provide an objective view of candidates as part of the decision-making process.
  5. Standardize interviews. Unstructured interviews can lead to bias. “… structured interviews, whereby each candidate is asked the same set of defined questions, ‘standardize the interview process’ and ‘minimize bias,’ by allowing employers to ‘focus on the factors that have a direct impact on performance,’” Knight says.
  6. Consider likability. We’re often attracted to people we like, and the same is true during the hiring process. Being alert to this tendency is critical to help minimize bias. Again, focusing on the skills and attributes of candidates can help.
  7. Set diversity goals. While these goals can sometimes be controversial, Knight admits, they can help organizations ensure that they are being inclusive in their hiring practices.

Ensuring your hiring process is as free from bias as possible is to everyone’s benefit. With a firm focus on the performance requirements for the job, a diverse hiring team, and open conversations and debriefings to determine how hiring processes can be continually improved, organizations will find success in driving bias out of the hiring process.