Creating Diversity in the Workplace: 3 Steps to Audit Candidate Interviews and Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process

We all know the hiring process is not always a meritocracy. Without a structured hiring process in place, even the most well-intentioned interviewers and assessors can fall prey to non-data-driven and misguided hiring decisions, often spurred by their own unconscious bias. Most studies show that we are all susceptible to some degree of bias, and, despite our best intentions and efforts to the contrary, we always will be.

This is not to say that we must accept the outcome of our biases. On the contrary, knowing this means that we have an obligation to take action to reduce it. Why? Reducing bias is not just the right thing to do; it’s also an essential step to forming more successful teams and companies as a whole. In short, diverse companies have been proven to perform better. And in addition, companies that make unbiased, data-driven hiring decisions have less employee turnover—80% less, in fact, according to this Harvard Business Review study.

What’s the first step to reducing bias?

So in order to reduce bias in the hiring process, the first course of action must be to empower your HR or People Team to audit interviews and technical assessments. They should lead the audit because they are somewhat separate from the hiring process compared with recruiters and hiring managers, and thus would be best positioned—as a third-party—to actively listen to candidates and find any existing bias.

In so doing, one can ensure accountability and provide much-needed outside perspective. As it is already clear that even interviewers who are actively seeking to objectively assess candidates can fall prey to bias, the outside perspective I’m proposing is necessary. Adding these impartial auditing techniques can mitigate the unconscious bias that is already affecting the hiring funnel. In taking these actions, the HR or People Team can retroactively look at candidate interviews and catch potential incidences of bias before they negatively affect an individual’s candidacy for an open role.

This post will outline 3 steps to help you reduce bias in the hiring process, resulting in more diverse and high-performing teams.

1. Track candidates throughout the pipeline

As much as possible, track candidates as they move from the resume screen all the way to the on-site. Data pointing to which candidates move through the funnel and which don’t and why can help employees confront and acknowledge their own biases. This will also help determine where and when candidates are being unfairly eliminated. In this way, teams can quickly identify problematic behaviors or questions and can follow up with hiring managers after the fact.

2. Record and review interviews and assessments

Next, record the interview between the candidate and the hiring manager. In order for an organization to catch bias, it is important to record the assessment/interview itself. By recording it, it’s possible to track only the questions and answers, giving the HR or People Team the ability to listen for candidate quality and any key conversational indicators of bias in the interview. Actually recording the interaction (using audio or video) is imperative; simply asking the assessor to jot down notes of the interaction will not suffice. Auditing the process via in-person discussion or written record can be prone to the same type of subjectivity and bias that is harming the process in the first place.

Admittedly, listening to every assessment can be a daunting task. Fortunately, however, a recent study from the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology has shown that more than 50% of interview judgements are made within the first 15 minutes of interaction. Bearing this in mind, at minimum, all audit teams will have to do is listen to the first 15 minutes for key conversational indicators of bias. Though it is far from comprehensive, this tactic will still catch a good number of incidences of interview bias, and can go a long way towards giving the team the insights needed to reduce it.

3. Listen to your candidates

Finally, after all is said and done, a great way to identify potential bias is to provide a safe space to solicit candidate feedback throughout the hiring process. This safe space could be achieved via an after-action interview with candidates or through a form/survey that candidates can fill out on their own time at the end of the hiring process. This practice is important for ensuring that all voices are heard and that another perspective is taken into consideration on the fairness of your hiring process. It also continues your company’s commitment to fostering a positive candidate experience, showing them that your organization takes their feedback and experiences seriously.

Closing thoughts

Bias is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. By acknowledging and fighting to eliminate the unconscious bias in every hiring funnel, you can work to create more meritorious, diverse, and powerful workforces. Though eliminating bias may at times feel like a struggle, the end result is more than worth it.

If diversity in the workplace is a topic that interests you, be sure to hear what our panel of diversity experts had to say. Check out their insights in the video below!

Diversity & Inclusion Panel

Nikos Buse

Nikos Buse works at Buzz Technologies, a technology platform to help recruiters and hiring managers understand the true capabilities of their candidates. At Buzz, Nikos oversees candidate experience and marketing. A Bay Area local and a diehard Giants fan, he is passionate about building and supporting excellent teams. Connect with Nikos on LinkedIn.

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Hiring Brand