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15 Steps You Can Take To Fight Unconscious Bias In Your Hiring Process

Originally Published on Forbes

Written By: Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council


Everyone has beliefs and experiences that shape the way they view the world. No matter how objective we try to be, our deeply-ingrained, unconscious biases can leak into our work—especially when it comes to hiring.


It can be difficult to acknowledge and turn off these biases, but in order to ensure a fair hiring process, companies must try to seek neutrality. To help, we asked 15 Forbes Coaches Council members how companies can fight unconscious bias for a more objective and fair hiring process.

Forbes Coaches Council members suggest ways employers can remove bias from their hiring processes.

1. Use External Assessments And Personality Tests

Using an objective personality leadership assessment is an important step in pointing out strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Reserve this for the final stages of the recruitment process (to limit costs) and use it for stimulating awareness and development purposes. This is not to be used as the final yes or no, but rather as an objective perspective on the fit for the role and culture. - Daphna Horowitz, Daphna Horowitz Leadership


2. Test Your Process With Experts

After constructing a process, run it by experts who can offer feedback about unconscious bias. From recruiting channels, wording choices, the review process, interview selection, etc., asking for an outside check is useful. There are government, education and nonprofit organizations that can help. Examples include special commissions like Hispanic affairs, and women- and minority-owned businesses. - Wendy Fraser, Fraser Consulting, LLC

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?


3. Block Out Names In Resumes

A simple strategy is to circulate resumes with the candidates' names blocked out for review purposes. Sometimes, we can immediately form biases and make assumptions as soon as we see a name that may connote something to us in terms of that person's gender, ethnicity, etc. It can then taint how we view the rest of its content, regardless of its strengths and the person's qualifications. - Lisa Downs, New Aspect Coaching


4. Conduct Panel Interviews

Creating a panel interview that is diverse accomplishes two things: First, the diversity of your interviewers helps keep bias in check. Having representation promotes a diversity of thought in the hiring process. Second, each interviewer hearing the same candidate responses and then comparing their notes and evaluation hinders anyone from hijacking the selection process because of bias. - Brad Federman, PerformancePoint LLC

5. Ensure Interviewers Have Unconscious Bias Training

At the foundational level, all people who are involved in any element of the hiring process should complete high quality, in-depth unconscious bias training. Beware, however, as there is a lot of training that is not effective. When people attend and engage in this type of training, they can enjoy the process of challenging themselves to be more open and to look with new eyes at candidates. - Susan Madsen, Utah Valley University & Madsen Global Leadership


6. Use Video Interviews Late In The Process

I like video interviews a lot of the time, but I don't like it early and upfront. When it gets down to the final folks you may want to hire, have them go on to the same platform all over the world if you do global interviews. Don't require video conference calls too early in the process though, because it is easy for people to over-analyze and be critical or it may bring up a bias too easily. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.


7. Introduce The Concept Of Blind Hiring

Although not yet mainstream, blind hiring is one concept being tested by some companies to remove unconscious bias from their hiring process and ensure they are not hiring carbon copies of their existing employees. Applications are stripped of identifying factors (age, race, ethnicity, gender) and assessed based on the applicant's skills, knowledge and potential for success in the role. - Daisy Wright, The Wright Career Solution


8. Have A Clear Checklist Of Skills And Multiple Interviewers

When hiring, have a clear checklist of hard and soft skills for each interviewer to complete. Have more than one person interviewing and seek each other's insights and input. When you narrow down your candidates, select the best three and ask yourselves which one would help us best achieve our goals, and stretch us all to be a bit better and different. - Bobbie Goheen, Synthesis Management Group


9. Drive Your Hiring Process Based On Values

Hiring someone who doesn't value completion, timeliness and being "on brand" is a disaster waiting to happen. For years I've asked prospective employees if they were open to learning more about themselves and their values. Nobody has ever said "no." Buy them a Kolbe test (about $50) and then have them do the Enneagram and DiSC profiles (all free). Know thyself. Know them. Both of you win. - Mike Koenigs, MikeKoenigs.com


10. Create Consistency In The Interview And Selection Process

Use a set of competency-based interview questions that focus on each candidate's background, experience and past behavior. Have each interviewer evaluate each candidate's response with a standardized rating scale. Gather and analyze ratings from all interviewers to see which candidate comes out on top. This ensures each candidate receives a consistent experience followed by a fair evaluation. - Morgan Massie, Avion Consulting


11. Know The Difference Between Likability And Capability

Managers hire people they want to work with. It's that simple. Unfortunately, they often confuse likability with capability. While there has been a lot of education around biases, for many managers, it comes down to, "Would I like this person on my team? Do I think I can lead them?" Instead, the question should be, "Will this person help my team succeed? Do they fill in the gaps?" - Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC


12. Hire As A Group

I advise my clients that, instead of having a single hiring manager, that they form a team to select and interview potential candidates. Hiring as a team not only helps prevent bias, but also allows companies to make smarter decisions based on a broader, rather than a single, perspective. Whole Foods hires as a team. And Google has been doing the same since its beginning. - Gustavo Razzetti, Liberationist - Change Leadership


13. Leverage Natural Language Processing Tools

People have unconscious biases about every generation. How could they not? The media is full of stories pointing the finger at millennials disrupting the workforce because of supposed work ethic challenges and stories that lead with "OK Boomer." If used correctly, Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools can go a long way to neutralize bias and create a diversified pool of qualified candidates. - Tracy Levine, Advantage Talent, Inc.


14. Use Artificial Intelligence

Using artificial intelligence is one way to create a neutral hiring process. Have a diverse team create objective data points and questions for job applicants to respond to. Doing this prevents unconscious bias and opens up the potential for an eclectic, creative and inclusive team. This also creates a team that is excited to come to work. - Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC


15. Standardize Your Interview Process

Establish a process so that each candidate has access to and will experience the same steps through the hiring process. Developing and asking standard questions gives the interviewer key hiring data to select the right candidate. A disciplined structure minimizes bias. Standardization is key for alignment and selection and maximizing talent for business success! - Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting

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