Even a talented candidate with the most potential can fail an interview when the hiring team allows their prejudices and untrained intuition to interfere. While unconscious biases can be excused as human nature, they can still prevent workplace diversity and hurt your recruitment and retention efforts.
So how do we keep our unconscious biases from leading us to make irrational hiring choices? Here’s how:
Identify Your Biases
Whether it relates to gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or race, we all have subconscious biases. They will pop into our heads when we see someone of a specific ethnicity, social class, or the like. Often, these thoughts go unspoken as we fear accusations of being racist, homophobic, judgmental, or prejudice. However, unconscious biases happen to even skilled interviewers, no matter how educated, well-traveled, inclusive, and open-minded we are.
Therefore, to ensure our unintentional biases don’t obstruct our decision-making, we need to acknowledge its existence. List down the biases that keep you from recognizing a candidate’s skills. What qualities of a person lead you to judge them immediately before comparing their skillset with the job’s criteria? Best practice would be writing down these biases on paper; the physical act of listing these down will keep you focused and encourage you to recognize your emotions.
Reflect on The Origin of Your Biases
The simple act of listing your biases triggers changes in your perspectives and attitude. You realize the issues you may need to work out as you question why you judge certain people’s characteristics, despite not knowing anything else about them apart from what they’ve provided on their resume.
Look back on your life and experiences to identify when and where you may have unconsciously picked up these biases and why you continued to carry them with you. Research the history behind these preconceptions. How have stereotypes kept otherwise talented people from being hired? Do male-dominated sectors remain this way because women don’t “fit the part”? Why are Generation X workers believed to be more independent, resourceful, and flexible compared to Millennials? Do an employee’s candy-colored hair and visible tattoos affect their performance?
Redefine Cultural Fit and Compatibility
Biases often win during interviews when the hiring team is keen on following strict company culture guidelines.
The concept of “cultural fit” is prevalent today. But too often, companies have found themselves losing talent for having a company culture that is rigid to the point that it prevents growth and diversity. This can stunt organizations as the rest of the world continues to change. To master the art of hiring and avoid the risk of losing a competitive edge, organizations need to redefine compatibility without compromising their values and mission.
Because biases are often unconscious, removing them from the interview process should be done deliberately.
Companies can evolve, and this includes their culture and recruiting process. So before judging a candidate for not fitting in with the organization’s culture, think about the company’s long-term goals. While compatibility is a factor to consider, look for cues that signal that the candidate will also complement the company culture and contribute to its success.