Diversity & Inclusion, Recruiting

How to Use Structured Hiring to Build Inclusive Workplaces

A great hiring process is a business necessity and can be a major competitive advantage—if done right. It’s about more than streamlining paperwork and getting roles filled quickly; your ability to hire the right people in the right roles at the right time is the deciding factor in how well your business performs. As a business leader myself, I know that having a strategic approach to how my team sources, nurtures, and retains people sets winning companies apart from the rest of the crowd. 

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Structure Reduces Bias

How? A structured approach to hiring lets your team collect and use data to make informed hiring decisions rather than leaving those decisions up to chance or a gut feeling, which is a surefire way to introduce bias into the process.

Decisions made on instinct are the same as those made on bias. As humans, we naturally reach flawed assessments of candidates based on things like first impressions, recency bias, and peer pressure. One of the most important aspects of a structured hiring process is that it ensures a consistent and fair experience for every candidate, reducing bias every step of the way.

Your structured hiring process starts with shared organizational goals. When you outline the business objectives driving the need for a particular hire and state the specific goals that will be achieved once the hire begins, the interview team can focus on advancing candidates with the right attributes to achieve those goals.

Gut instinct invites bias, yet it’s still used often as the deciding factor in hiring in ways you’d never accept in other parts of your business. When you take a structured approach to your hiring process and strategy, you create the space and framework to reduce bias and build an inclusive workplace from the very first touch point someone has with your company, even before the person interviews. 

Decisions Based on Data Better Drive Organizational Goals

Once you’ve interviewed enough quality candidates, it’s time to make a decision. While many companies put great effort into their sourcing and interviewing, too often, they hit a wall when it comes to making the best hiring decision. Months spent running a great process can stall with concerns about waiting for better candidates, going back to ones you’ve already met, or delaying a decision until someone reaches an epiphany, all because of a feeling rather than the facts—or, rather, the data.

Indecision makes for a poor candidate experience and reveals a lack of cohesion around organizational goals. It also costs your company talent, time, and money. We recommend a structured way to handle these decisions.

4 Steps to Creating a Structured Hiring Process

Recruiting teams have an important responsibility to hit their hiring goals, which enables the business to succeed. Get set up for success by following this framework:

  1. Assign clear responsibilities. Hiring managers are the ultimate decision-makers. They are ultimately accountable for the success of the new hire and their team. Recruiters are the project managers, ensuring everyone stays prepared and informed throughout the process. They should also provide expert advice on the recruiting process and talent pool, serving as internal consultants.

    Interviewers and approvers serve as checks on the process. The approver (a department head, a hiring committee, or even the CEO) should ensure the hiring decision was made as thoughtfully and objectively as possible. This person should verify hiring decisions are being made consistently across roles and that compensation and titles are being offered equitably.
  1. Gather reliable data. Before the process begins, interviewers need a scorecard of attributes that define success for that particular role. Interview teams should be as diverse as possible to make feedback more objective and to show candidates the authentic makeup of your team. Acknowledge that you can’t eliminate human biases entirely, but work to limit their presence in both your data and your final decision.
  1. Standardize evaluation. During the actual interviews, each interviewer should use an identical structure and set questions to assess each attribute on the scoring rubric. Structured hiring isn’t about what the interviewers felt or perceived but rather whether the candidate displayed attributes that will lead to success in the role. This structure creates an identical experience for every candidate to ensure a fair evaluation.
  1. Define the priorities. Prioritizing the attributes necessary for success in a role leads to more effective hiring decisions. When it’s time to make an offer, focus on the data points that tell you the most about those attributes. Separating nice-to-haves from must-haves prevents talented candidates who lack the right degree or who missed an Oxford comma from being left out of consideration. Also decide the attributes that are necessary but coachable based on your team’s existing skill set. This approach expands your pipeline of candidates and lets you hire for a broader range of talent.

Structured hiring is inclusive hiring, and it’s the only way companies can build a successful and diverse workplace culture. Using technology and processes to find and hire the right talent drives the difference between companies that win big and everyone else.

Daniel Chait is coauthor of TALENT MAKERS: How the Best Organizations Win Through Structured and Inclusive Hiring, CEO, and cofounder of Greenhouse. Before Greenhouse, he cofounded Lab49, a global firm providing technology consulting solutions for investment banks. Chait is a frequent speaker on the topics of recruiting and entrepreneurship and a guest lecturer at business schools and conferences. Chait graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Computer Engineering in 1995.