Even when you are trying to be fair as an interviewer, it can be easy to slip and become biased. You may fall victim to the most recent statement a candidate said or let a strong achievement overshadow a glaring shortcoming. Good news is, there are ways you can defend against falling into the trap of becoming biased.
If your goal is to ultimately find the best candidate, it’s important to commit to a system that will aid you in being less biased. You have to objectively evaluate every person you bring through the hiring process. Here are a few ways you can go about doing that.
Create a Standard System
Before the hiring process, you should create a standard list of questions you’ll be asking. Of course, especially in the beginning, you will want to know about the person’s background and get to know them a little. However, down the line you should have a standard set of questions that gives each candidate an equal chance of impressing you. Furthermore, have the same setting for each interview. Don’t interview one person at a coffee shop and another in the office, or one via video chat and another in person. Keep the process the same for each individual.
Be a Rigorous Note-Taker During Each Interview
You are going to interview a good number of people and hear a lot of answers. Chances are you won’t remember everything. To prevent yourself from falling into the bias trap, take notes on each candidate’s answers followed by some notes on your overall impressions. Jotting these things down after each interview will enable you to recall the entire interview better rather than focusing on only the positives or negatives.
Prior to the interview spell out what you’re looking for in the ideal candidate. In a grading rubric, have specific skills you’re looking for, as well as experiences and qualifications. You can even include cultural fit. Create a numerical range for each category, say 1-4 or 1-5. Rubrics help you look at the entire picture of each candidate rather than focusing on one quality or downfall.
Ability and fit are both hard to quantify, but you’re better off at least trying than avoiding it altogether. Ideally, prior to the interview stage of the hiring process, create a rubric for what you’re seeking in the new hire. Include qualifications like specific skills and experiences, soft skills like communication and teamwork, and cultural fit with the company .
After interviewing all the candidates, select a numerical range and rate each person. Rubrics helps you avoid giving too much credit for one particular experience or qualification—it keeps things balanced.
It’s hard to admit that we can be biased even when we’re trying not to be. But studies have shown that it takes more than intention to overcome them – it takes action to right them. For example, when symphonies introduced “blind auditions” by using opaque screens to hide the musician who was auditioning, the rate of women accepted into symphonies increased dramatically . In the end, the process might be more cumbersome, but it’ll also be fairer—plus you’ll be more likely to get the best candidate for the job.