4 tricks to stamping out bias in your hiring process
We all are in some way or another — though many of us don’t know exactly how. In fact, research shows that we have more trouble identifying our own biases than the biases of other people.
This bias almost certainly impacts who you recruit, how you interview them, and who you end up hiring in the process, experts say. It may help explain why, though women hold half of all professional-level jobs, they make up only 36% of first- or mid-level officials or managers in S&P 500 companies and are only 6% of CEOs. Or why women of color hold only 3.9% of executive or senior-level management positions and fewer than 1% of CEO positions in those companies, according to the Center for American Progress.
Those kinds of biases may hurt your company: Indeed, research from consulting firm McKinsey shows that “companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.”
The good news: There are ways you can help stamp out many of your prejudices so you can wind up with the best job candidate, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. Step one: Understand that you may be biased and make sure your hiring managers know this too. “If you’re aware that you have ‘unconscious’ biases, and aware that they may be negatively impacting [your hiring and your company] … that’s half the battle,” says NYC-based career strategist Carlota Zimmerman. And know what potential biases — race, gender, ethnicity, education (you may be picking super expensive Ivy League schools only, which lean towards a whiter population), age and more — might be.
Here are more ways to reduce bias in the hiring process:
Stamp out bro-like language in your job postings
“Rework your job descriptions so that the terms you use are more universal and not just masculine,” says Dan Schawbel, the author of “Promote Yourself & Me 2.0.” Indeed, research shows that women are turned off by job postings using “masculine language” like “competitive” and “determined.” Those terms make many women feel “they would not belong in the work environment.” Instead, use words like “collaborative” and “cooperative,” to draw in women. Also, watch the use of gendered pronouns like “he” and “his,” making sure to balance those with neutral or feminine pronouns.
Switch up how you select candidates
Something as simple as a name on a resume can induce bias, so consider asking HR to send you resumes without names — and ask them to ensure you have a diverse list of candidates of both genders and many races and ages, experts suggest. Make sure they “recruit non-traditional candidates from places you would normally avoid such as different colleges, and roles within companies that have the right set of skills but whose resumes you would traditionally not accept,” recommends Schawbel. You may also want more than one person in your company — and people of different genders and ethnicities and backgrounds — to go through the resumes and select candidates for an interview. Another option: “Use a software program such as GapJumpers that uses blind auditions to verify the competency of applicants,” recommends Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace.
Have all candidates take a test
“Have applicants take a test to verify their skills or industry knowledge before the interview so you can judge them on something that’s more impartial,” says Schawbel. You may also — once you vet the candidates — have them do something like come in for a trial day at the office so you can see how they might approach the job.
Standardize the interview process
Standardizing the interview process is essential to making sure you don’t inadvertently give a favored candidate an easier interview. Some expert tricks: Have all interviewers ask every candidate at least one question that is the same so you can compare answers across candidates. Each interviewer should have a different, but relevant, standard question to ask the person, such as asking them how they would handle a certain scenario that has come up in your company before. As a final safeguard when you are tempted to discard a candidate: have “a colleague who is very different than yourself — but whose judgment is impeachable — also interview the candidates you’re tempted to discard,” says Zimmerman.
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