Keeping your interviews legal should not be the only motivator for conducting fair interviews. When your company has a fair recruitment process, it leads to value diversity and inclusion. Interviews become a critical point in the hiring process because it’s the stage when you’re most at risk of unconscious biases. Here’s how to structure your interview process so that they are fair and reduce selection bias:
Follow an interview agenda
All interviewers on your recruitment team should follow an established interview agenda. It can be a written document or a digital form that allows the interviewer to tick off the steps to be followed in an interview. Some basic components of a structured interview include an introduction, explanation of the role, open-ended questions, hypothetical questions, curveball queries, time for the candidate to ask the interviewer questions, -a description of the next steps, and closing.
To achieve fairness, especially when you’re interviewing candidates back-to-back, structure your time to spend the same amount of time with each applicant. So beyond listing the topics and steps in the interview plan, you should also indicate how much time should be spent on each section. Achieving equitable time for each candidate is important because it can either be discouraging or encouraging. Applicants who notice their interviews were shorter than others may feel they were rushed and not allowed to express or demonstrate their competence fully.
Establish a list of selection criteria
Ask all candidates the same questions, which should all be directly related to the selection criteria. Some of these basic criteria that help make better hiring decisions include experience, potential, hard skills, soft skills, and cultural fit.
Recruiters often make the mistake of engaging in small talk, thinking this will help the candidate reveal more of their personality. The interviewer may do this to determine whether the applicant is a good fit for the company culture. However, determining cultural fit doesn’t have to involve questions that can trigger unconscious bias or feel offensive to the candidate. For example, questions such as the candidate’s number of children and their ages can be risky to ask and make the applicant uncomfortable. As innocent as it may sound, it may lead to unconscious biases that involve the ability of a working parent to work without distraction. Better questions to assess cultural fit would be to ask how the candidate describes their work style and what role they typically play when working with a team. Another good question would relate to the management style that motivates them and their ideal work environment.
Assess relevant skills and competencies
Using scorecards to assess skills and competencies is good practice for achieving fairness during the selection process. Establish a rating system for each criterion, which should only be related to relevant skills and competencies. This helps prevent the interviewer from making unnecessary or prejudiced observations. Standardizing the evaluation of candidates is especially useful in panel interviews, allowing interviewers to compare rankings.
Do you feel that your interview practices have been fair? How have you trained your interview panel to conduct interviews? As a former CEO and COO, I have built leaders and their teams for over 30 years. I now count top organizations among my grateful clients.
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