Even the best, most ethical, most well-intentioned people have biases. It’s part of being human. This is how we pick our friends, our partners, how we decide who we trust and who we believe.
Try as they might, even hiring managers can be unduly influenced by their own biases when it comes to candidate selection. Something as small as coming from the same town, going to the same university, even having the same favorite show or band can play a role in who’s hired.
Being aware of this is the first step toward counteracting it.
Here’s how managers can recognize and work to avoid being influenced by even unconscious bias.
1. Be aware of bias.
Talk about it with other managers, with recruiters, with anyone involved in reviewing or hiring candidates. Drawing attention to the issue will hopefully keep everyone’s eyes open and alert to any situation that might arise that could be considered preferential or discriminatory treatment.
2. Review job postings and standard boilerplate language.
Obviously, job ads aren’t specifically calling for a certain type of person to apply, or urging different kinds of people that the job isn’t for them. But how do you refer to the position? Is it a sales position or a salesman? Is there any language that depicts age, gender, ethnicity? Is the description as inclusive as possible? Read it carefully and see if there’s anything that might have unintentionally slipped by.
3. Adopt “blind” assessment practices.
Some companies, including Microsoft, have made changes to the hiring process, so a hiring manager cannot see any comments on a candidate until they enter their own opinions. This cuts down on undue influence from peers when reviewing resumes or reflecting on interviews, as the hiring manager won’t feel pressured to like or dislike a candidate based on others’ opinions.
4. Initiate pre-hiring tests.
Truly level the playing field by having all candidates take some kind of skills assessment test as part of the interview process. This will also help determine how each candidate ranks in terms of their ability to do the job in question, with each candidate on an equal footing from the start.
5. Forget likability.
Yes, it’s essential, and ideal for all members of a team or even an office to get along well together. But not everyone will automatically become friends. Does that mean someone isn’t capable of being an outstanding addition to your team? Would you characterize someone of different gender in the same way if they demonstrated similar qualities: if a woman comes across as “pushy” or “domineering,” would you say those same characteristics in a man were “assertive” or “commanding”? The only characteristic that matters should be whether the person can do the job well.
It’s hard to acknowledge that bias exists. It’s a dirty word and something that makes us uncomfortable, but it’s something everyone has, and it’s something that influences all of us, usually unconsciously. Admitting that is the first step toward overcoming it.
Find Your Next Great Employee
Debbie’s Staffing is ready to help move your office forward in terms of embracing new candidates without preconceived notions and biases. Contact us today for help finding your next great employee.