Recruiters everywhere are working to create a more diverse workplace. This is in part from a drive to do the right thing, but it’s also essential for performance. According to McKinsey’s 2020 report “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” data shows that more diverse companies consistently outperform the less diverse in terms of both profitability and innovation.
However, that is a task easier said than done. Diverse workplaces require a recruitment process free of bias and give every candidate an equal opportunity in the selection process. To achieve this, you’ll need to understand where and how bias affects the hiring process the most and how to mitigate it. That’s why today we’re going to look at the point in the recruitment process that’s most vulnerable: the interview.
The interview is the primary point of contact with candidates during the hiring process. It is where recruiters and hiring managers will spend the most time with candidates before making a final decision. That’s why it’s also where bias is most likely to affect recruiter judgment.
Interviewer bias is more common than many think. When we typically think of bias, we think of outright prejudice, a conscious rejection of an entire group of people. However, most biases are entirely unconscious. Sometimes, they’re not even based on intolerance but rather assumptions based on an individual’s appearance or preconceived notions about the person. That’s why biases typically go unnoticed.
Bias spawns from the human mind’s tendency to make quick judgments and sort information into groups. This is useful as a basic survival instinct – not so much for creating a fair interview process.
Interview biases can take many forms, but they’re primarily based on visual information such as race, gender, and age. All of which can be hard to avoid in traditional live interviews. So, what is a recruiter to do? How do we address interviewing bias? Well, let’s take a look.
From hair color to age, there are as many types of biases as there are groups of people. For many, these biases are benign. For recruiters, it can be the difference between passing the perfect candidate or making the perfect hire. That’s why it’s so important to understand bias and how it affects recruitment.
Here are some examples of interview bias, both unconscious and known prejudice:
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers a few of the most prominent biases we see impacting recruitment.
At this point, you know several biases affecting recruitment. Of course, all recruiters need to constantly assess their own unconscious bias and address them on their own. There are also ways to mitigate bias in the interviewing process. The interview is the most important stage of recruitment. It’s also when your hiring process is at the biggest risk of bias-based judgment.
To mitigate bias in the interview process you’ll need consistency, standardized interviews, and the right tools.
First, we’ll discuss consistency. Unstructured interviews leave an opportunity for biases to influence decisions. That’s why it’s important to make the application and interview process the same for every candidate to prevent this very problem. Consistent interviews help maintain recruiter objectivity.
Consistency in the interview process itself requires standardization. Unstructured interviews have the potential to help better understand a candidate’s personality and provide an organic experience. However, this format doesn’t always reveal how someone will perform on the job – the very purpose of the interview to begin with. Standardizing questions keeps recruiters focused on qualifications and abilities over persona. What’s more, using the same questions for every candidate makes it easier to objectively judge between candidates.
Consistency and standardization can only be maintained with the right tools. Consider using audio-based interviews. Qualifi’s on-demand interview platform helps to mitigate bias while improving every aspect of the interview process. The on-demand phone interview format makes the process simple, fast, and effective.
So, how do you know if bias is affecting your hiring process? The answer is simple. You just need to know how to assess adverse impact.
Adverse impact is defined by the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission as business practices that cause a significantly different rate of selection that disadvantages a given group. In simple terms, it’s when biases and other practices in your hiring process are affecting the diversity of your hires. For example, imagine a company that frequently requires a disproportionate number of background checks for a given group. This might lead to that group having a significantly lower selection rate. That's an adverse impact.
Of course, adverse impact during your interview phase will never be that obvious – but don’t worry. Performing the assessment is a simple process.
The most common formula to assess adverse impact is known as the four-fifths rule, which states that when the selection rate of a given group is less than 80% of the majority, adverse impact is considered present.
The resulting number will allow you to compare your selection rate. If that number is less than 80%, adverse impact is present. Once identified, you can begin taking steps to create a more accessible and equitable hiring process.