Our biases are unavoidable. We evolved to have them, making them a hardwired feature of who we are. That’s not an entirely bad thing. Pattern seeking and behavior recognition allowed us to survive and can still alert us to high-risk or dangerous situations. On the other hand, our bias can also be responsible for irrational opinions about other people or bad decisions. While those things are never helpful, when you’re engaged in executive-level finance or ecommerce recruitment, judgment-clouding biases can do significant, sometimes catastrophic, damage to your business. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate interviewer bias.
Know Your Biases
The most important first step in reducing biases is identifying yours and being honest about them. That’s often not easy and it doesn’t just apply to ethnicity, religion, gender, and so forth. There are otherwise wholly rational people who will nurture biases that, were they to consider them objectively (or heard said out loud), they’d find absurd. “Great resume and interview but I just can’t trust someone with a light handshake.” Sadly, irrational biases are numberless. Get to know yours.
Fine- Tuning the Interview
A great way to reduce bias is by fostering objectivity in the interview process. As much as it may intuitively feel like it, unstructured, conversational interviews to “get a feel for” someone do not always work well. When interviewing data science applicants as the hiring manager for analytic recruiting, structure your interviews by asking every candidate the same questions and making those questions job and performance-specific. Conduct phone interviews before a face-to-face interview to reduce heuristic (superficial appearance) bias and have all of the worthy applicants complete a relevant work-sample test.
Don’t Be Alone
Particularly for in-person interviews, always have at least two interviewers involved. And ensure that, if possible, the interviewers are diverse. Not just diverse regarding gender, ethnicity, etc. (although that demonstrably improves results in every facet of a business), but from diverse positions and roles in the company. Having as much insight from as many different perspectives as possible, again, consistently improves results.
Use a Third-Party Recruiter
A great way to reduce and preclude interviewer bias is by bringing in the professionals. That’s particularly true for management, executive, and C-level recruiting when the performance stakes are higher. Working with an experienced executive recruiting firm is often the best move any business can make when it comes to the hiring of upper-level personnel for a number of reasons, but bias-reduction is certainly among them. For one, they’re on the outside looking in. A recruiter is judging candidates based on their qualifications, temperament, fit for your company (and company culture), drive, reliability, and relevant considerations. And they’re doing so without irrationally comparing them (often superficially and unconsciously) to and judging them against the last person who did the job, either positively or negatively. They’re not going to overlook indications that they won’t be a good fit because they hit it off well with the hiring manager, etc. Basically, hiring a third-party executive recruiter can both elevate and even the field for candidates and the businesses that need them.