“Bias” is a preference for one thing over another that isn’t based on reasoning or logic. Everyone has biases. For instance, you may prefer the smell of cinnamon over nutmeg because cinnamon reminds you of your favorite aunt, or you may prefer State U over U of State because you’re a State U graduate.
Biases play a key role in how we order our lives. Biases can, however, negatively affect hiring by driving hiring decisions that aren’t based on what’s best for the team or company. This is particularly likely to occur when a bias is unconscious, or not within one’s awareness.
Here are some ways to combat the effect of unconscious bias in hiring:
Make Your Biases Conscious
Unconscious bias loses much of its power when it’s brought into the conscious mind. When you’re aware of a bias, you can take steps to counteract it.
To measure unconscious bias, avoid hypotheticals. Most people respond to hypotheticals like “What would you do if….” with their best vision of themselves. Rather, look at your own past patterns – the decisions you actually made. If you spot a pattern like “I chose political science majors for sales positions in six of our last eight hires,” you’ve probably spotted an unconscious bias.
Create More Specific Hiring Criteria
Hiring managers often make decisions based on their instincts, especially when two candidates have equally strong credentials. Here, however, “instinct” can often be another word for “unconscious bias.”
Instead, create a specific set of criteria for each position that is directly related to success in that position. For example, you may look for candidates who demonstrate strong conflict resolution skills when hiring for a customer service position. By connecting each criteria to the needs of the job, you give yourself a path to follow that is driven by facts, not bias.
Get an Outside Opinion
Often, the opinion of someone with an outside perspective can help you spot and eliminate bias. For example, a recruiter can focus on matching candidates to your company based on sound reasoning, rather than instinct.
At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our recruiters work hard to connect St. Paul employers to the best available talent for their needs. Contact us today to learn more.