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5 Step Checklist to Manage Unconscious Bias During Recruitment

Posted by Janine Yancey

April 5, 2016

Managing Unconscious Bias Interview Checklist

This just in: We all have unconscious bias. Research shows that we all take mental shortcuts to quickly process information to assess other people and situations.

Unconscious bias can make it easier for some candidates than others to get hired — undermining objective decision-making, which can impede diversity and inclusion in your organization.

How can you manage and minimize your unconscious bias so it doesn’t skew your recruitment and hiring practices?

Use this 5 step checklist to create an evaluation framework that uses objective skill criteria and scoring to help determine your top candidate.

1. Outline and prioritize the top skills and experience required for the position

Every role has two or three core skills that are essential for success. Identify and rank those skills along with a solid job description. You can’t make great recruiting decisions without a complete understanding of what the job entails. Make your assessment based on the core skills and ignore any other attributes and personal interests that are not related to the skills essential for job success.

2. Create a small blind project for candidates to complete and submit

Once you’ve identified the essential skills for a particular job, create a mini project that clearly highlights those skills and ask interested candidates to complete and submit.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Ask a social media specialist to draft a tweet or post on a trending topic that relates to your business.
  • Ask a creative designer to create a mock-up of a screen for your product or website.
  • Ask a customer success professional to record what they would say to a frustrated customer and submit the recording.

Regardless of the role, you can identify a relatively quick, easy project for candidates to complete and submit so you’re evaluating work product, not irrelevant personal attributes.

To ensure you’re only evaluating work product, identify the samples by candidate numbers (don’t use their names) and rank or score each project.

3. Use open-ended questions to determine if your candidate has the essential skills needed

Create behavioral questions that get the candidate talking about how he or she would perform a job and whether he or she has the knowledge and skills relevant to the current role. For each question, draft an ideal answer that addresses key issues or concepts relevant to that question.

4. Ensure a consistent interviewing experience for every candidate

Ideally, each candidate should be interviewed by the same set of interviewers. The interviewers should ask the same question of each candidate, take detailed notes on each answer, and score the answer.

Create an interview process that includes some questions about background job experience and 3-4 behavioral questions. Before the interview, have your hiring committee determine who should ask each question and come up with a model answer for each question. Each interviewer should take detailed notes, but shouldn’t share opinions with others to avoid influencing their overall assessment of the candidate.

5. Use a number-based scale to assess each candidate

Use an objective scoring methodology to evaluate each candidate. As described above, each interviewer will score each candidate’s answer to the behavioral question and the score is supported by the interviewer’s detailed notes.

After all the interviews, add up each candidate’s scores to get their average score. Whichever candidate has the highest average score is your top candidate.

By using a structured interview process like the one outlined above, you can filter out the effects of unconscious bias and help level the recruitment playing field in your organization.


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Topics: HR Compliance, Talent Management, People Skills, diversity, Unconscious Bias