Is Your Selection Process Biased? 5 Ways to Ensure You’re Hiring the Best Candidates

By: Bethany Whitted


How do you make the best hiring decisions? You hire people who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the job. It sounds simple. However, whether we’re aware of it or not, biases can lead us to make hiring decisions based on things that are not job-related.  

When it comes to selecting the right people for your company, it’s important to put processes in place that minimize the potential for bias to creep into our decisions. What are these processes? I’m glad you asked! Here are 5 ways to minimize bias in selection decisions so that you can hire the best people for the job: 

  1. Filter your job descriptions.  

Your job descriptions should do just that: describe the job. Filter out anything in your performance objectives that is not job-related. If you realize you’re asking candidates for skills that are not job-related, take them out! For instance, does your sales manager truly need 6 years of experience? Does your warehouse supervisor really need a high school degree? If you’re interviewing people for non-job-related qualifications, you’re excluding candidates that shouldn’t be excluded, and potentially not making the best hiring decisions. Regularly review and update job descriptions to ensure they truly reflect the job. If you would like support in creating clear performance objectives for every role in your company, grab a copy of our complimentary performance objectives guide here.  

     2. Structure your interview.  

Does your interview allow each candidate an equal opportunity to share their qualifications? A structured interview consists of standardized interview questions and a standardized scoring rubric. These questions are carefully based on a job analysis to ensure that they are job-related. If interviewers are allowed to ask any questions they want, you’ll likely end up with interview notes that can’t be fairly compared across candidates. Simply put, if you ask every candidate different questions, you’ll be comparing apples to oranges. A structured interview allows you to compare apples to apples.  

     3. Use multiple, trained raters.  

More eyes are better. More trained eyes are even better. Use multiple raters, but keep the same interviewer for consistency. Train raters on exactly what behaviors to look for, and how to use your anchored scoring rubric.  

     4. Don’t discuss candidates between interviews.  

It’s often our first instinct to hop straight into talking about the candidate after they leave the room. However, our opinions can quickly be swayed by each other’s opinions, rather than our actual observations. Rather than jumping into discussion, allow time for raters to reflect on the positive and negative things they observed about the candidates. Then, provide time for raters to finish up and tweak their scoring rubrics while the interview is fresh in their minds. 

     5. Record Selection Decisions and Assess outcomes.  

Ongoing assessment of the outcomes of your selection procedures allows you to keep a pulse on any potential biases that need to be addressed. What trends do you see in the outcomes of your selection decisions? Is a certain group being promoted at much higher rates? The 4/5ths rule is the most common rule of thumb when it comes to detecting adverse impact. The rule states that if minorities are not being promoted or hired at 80% of the rate than majority groups are, you might have an adverse impact. Importantly, if you have a sound selection process, you can justify your human capital decisions. This is why it’s key to keep record of who you’re hiring and promoting and why. 

Much of our decision-making is affected by biases. This has nothing to do with our intentions and doesn’t necessarily mean we are prejudiced. However, if we can take steps to make better decisions by minimizing bias, why wouldn’t we? If you want to make the best hiring decisions, and ones that you can justify, implement these processes. This is one step in creating a more inclusive, fair, and higher performing organization. 

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