Confronting and Overcoming Hiring Bias

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Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our own personal biases–which is probably why they’re sometimes called unconscious biases! Unfortunately however, the science points to the fact that these biases weigh heavily on the decisions that make when we hire for our teams.

The scariest and most dangerous fact, is that we’re all predisposed to liking people that are similar to ourselves. We’re sure it’s happened to you! That interview when you just click with a candidate and it feels natural and fun! It’s just seems right. But it’s also a trap!

When you hire people like yourself, you aren’t building diverse teams (which have been proven to perform better), and you’re accidentally rejecting candidates who might be a better fit for the role.

Here at Hare Hires, we don’t just help you grow your teams, we also recruit for our own business. So what are we doing to eliminate our unconscious biases and ensure that our internal hiring system is strategic, and working as it should.

1. We ask strategic interview questions

Every question that we ask is for a very specific reason, with a very specific intended response. This one might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s very easy to lose sight of this when actually conducting an interview. You can read more about how to effectively create your own strategic interview questions in the following blog post.

2. We use a fool-proof rating system

Here is the problem with rating systems: They’re emotional.

If you feel like “I’m a cheerful person with a strong bias towards optimism. I’m very likely to give a higher average rating than my pessimistic colleague”, or vice-versa, then you’ve got exactly the opposite of a reliable rating system!

We’ve done our best to fix this problem by including qualifiers. You must be able to unequivocally answer yes or no to these qualifiers in order to increase or reduce the rating from a “standard” response.

Hare Hires Rating Scale:

1 – Bad Answer. You either didn’t answer the question, OR your answer told us something we really didn’t want to know.

2 – Not a Good Answer. You answered the question, but not very well. You didn’t give us everything we need to know.

3 – Good Answer. You answered the question, but with an average answer.

4 – Great Answer. Your answer gave us everything we needed to know.

5 – Outstanding Answer. Your answer gave us everything we needed to know, PLUS we learned something interesting and new.

An example of a five out of five answer:

Question:

On a scale from one to ten how lucky or fortunate would you say that you are?

Answer:

Oh definitely a nine or a ten out of ten. Because I mean, first of all, I’m sitting in this interview! But I’ve also been lucky enough to have the time and resources to pursue my passions. I volunteer with an organization that goes into people’s homes who are ready to move to a nursing home and help to clean and organize their things so they can easily transition into the next phase of their lives.

Not only did the candidate have a great answer, we also learned that the candidate likes to organize other people. This is awesome because it’s actually also one of the key requirements for success in the role that we’re looking to fill.

3. We keep all the data, and we constantly iterate on the process.

We keep all the data! This is what happens when you’re a spreadsheet enthusiast and you’re working in recruitment!

We rate each candidate on each question for every step of the interview process. Each of those ratings are kept in a master spreadsheet which calculates a weighted average rating for each candidate. That average rating is compared to an overall impression score for each candidate.

If over time, we notice that our overall impression scores are consistently different from the weighted average, that means something is wrong! It could be that one of the questions we’re asking weighs more heavily in the hiring process, or it could be that we’re not asking the right questions in the first place. That’s how we know that it’s time to make some changes.

Keeping track of the data not only allows you to look back and see which interview questions are predictive of an excellent hire, but it also allows you to iterate and improve upon your hiring process.

It’s our belief that implementing strategies like the ones above can help reduce the impact of unconscious biases in your hiring process–and your team will be all the better for it!

With that being said, if you need any help at all implementing strategies like our own, we’d be more than happy to help teach your hiring team how to do it.

Good luck, and happy hiring!

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