9 Tips to Better Understand Bias

9 Tips to Better Understand Bias

What is a tip to better understand unconscious bias when making a hiring decision?

To help hiring managers identify bias in their hiring efforts, we asked business leaders and founders this question for their best advice. From aligning your vision and values to following a standardized interview, there are several strategies that may help you reach hiring decisions with less bias. 

Here are nine techniques to avoid unconscious bias when recruiting: 

  • Align Your Vision and Values
  • Ask Yourself Why for Choices
  • Delve into Self Reflection
  • Break Down the Hiring Process
  • Diversify the Hiring Panel
  • Acknowledge Bias Exists
  • Start With A Diverse Team
  • Focus on Candidate’s Results
  • Create a Standardized Interview

Align Your Vision and Values  

We make sure we have our values right in front of us when we're creating job descriptions, narrowing candidates, and doing the interviews. That helps us to make sure we're staying aligned through the whole process. We also are privileged to have a diverse board of directors who helps guide diversity of perspective and thought in hiring decisions.

Elena Joy Thurston, Pride & Joy Foundation

Ask Yourself Why

Unconscious biases are sneaky ones ー and you may not realize you're doing it when sifting through resumes. Something as small as a name can set off an unknown reaction. When you're in the hiring process, try to separate fact from feeling. While our gut reactions are good in day-to-day life when it comes to potential danger or making choices about our lives, using our gut feelings can easily fall victim to stereotypes or a bias that we're not aware of. Really bear down and ask yourself if you're saying yes or no based on the facts or if you've inclined a little too far into how you feel about a job candidate. It can be a hard line to dance, so look into something like an executive search firm to help you filter more so on facts. 

Ryan Nouis, TruPath

Delve Into Self Reflection

To understand the unconscious biases that arise during the hiring process, I think it's important to do a lot of self-reflection. Understand what makes you think a certain way and what potential harm that can have if left unchecked. A good way to keep those low is to have a diverse group of people on the hiring team. Too many people in these efforts, and it can get unorganized. However, having a small, solid group of people willing to check each other while also keeping the goals of the company at the center can really help keep some bias out of the process. Having someone ask you why you don't want a candidate can be a great way for you to uncover something you did on a gut feeling that might be a hindrance and, in turn, keep you more aware of your ‘why’ in decision-making. 

Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center

Break Down the Hiring Process

In order to avoid unconscious biases in the hiring process, it is important to recognize where that bias could affect your company. This allows for you to determine where these managerial decisions are most critical, allowing you to be hyper-aware of your evaluation techniques. By breaking down the hiring and interview process in this manner, you will notice where implicit bias may arise and combat it quickly. 

Debra Hildebrand, Hildebrand Solutions, LLC

Diversify the Hiring Panel

It is difficult to avoid bias, but it helps to be aware of your prejudices as they arise. To widen your company's lens in the hiring process, consider using a hiring team as you recruit. Select a diverse panel of employees from your current team and leverage their insight as you seek new talent. Including a diverse hiring team during the recruiting process can ensure that your company's goals to be more inclusive are reached.

Dan Reck, MATClinics

Acknowledge Bias Exists

One way to understand unconscious bias in the recruiting process is to not focus too much on a candidate's resume. There are many areas on a resume where you can unconsciously form an opinion, including names, colleges, and graduation dates. We look for a consistent history of work and progression, but even that could lead to bias. It’s difficult to remove it completely, but awareness is a great place to start.  

Jenn Christie, Markitors

Start With a Diverse Team

Our company was established and made up of 100% women and POC. We pride ourselves on being a company founded on embracing our differences. That is how you can better understand your biases: by surrounding yourself with people who are different from you. That is where you learn the most.

Katie Kiernan, NUE.Life

Focus on the Candidate’s Results

You will need to first define your hiring needs and goals and then identify the necessary skills and expertise that the ideal candidate should have. In identifying these required competencies, I suggest that you avoid putting too much focus on educational attainment and credentials. This can also be a source of bias in itself and could exclude a good number of people. My recommendation is to use blind tests that will measure these competencies as objectively as possible. You can then use these results to help you come up with a hiring decision, which is less likely to have been influenced by an unconscious bias.

Cameron Miller, Realtor

Create a Standardized Interview

One simple yet effective tip to understand and negate unconscious bias in hiring is to keep the interviews standardized. As per the Journal of Occupational Psychology, structured and standardized interviews are twice more worthwhile than unstructured interviews. Standardized interviews have the minimum possibility of unconscious bias. Every candidate is evaluated based on the responses to the same set of predefined questions. If there is any other factor you are considering besides the merit of their answers and their confidence, that can possibly be a sign of unconscious bias. Having said that, keeping the interviews identical and standardized will help you understand your conscious bias. 

Jessica Robinson, The Speaking Polymath

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