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How to Avoid Bias While Conducting Job Interviews

Preparing to avoid bias during recruitment decisions and job interviews is essential as all humans are biased in one way or another. Bias can come, either from cultural conditioning or from hyperactive sensibilities. We need to ensure that our biases are not illegal or discriminatory, and that they do not affect our decisions to the detriment of company needs. Keeping that in mind, and actively working to remove bias in job interviews, not only helps you do your job better as a recruiter, but also helps to save your company from any litigation that might ensue.

Antidiscrimination laws relate to gender, age, disability, pregnancy, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, race, ethnicity and a myriad other issues. Personally, the recruiter too would be categorized and identified with certain groups and traits. But as long as the recruiter is focused on questions which absolutely and only relate to clear organizational interests and job skills, bias can be kept at a minimum.

To conduct a safe interview without bias, follow the following tips:
  • Be absolutely sure of the job role that is going to be filled and the responsibilities associated with it, so that you can prepare a proper questionnaire that focuses on the purpose of the interview. Such questions would naturally be around topics like skills, work-experience, etcetera, but would not include questions about the ancestry of the interviewee
  • To keep interviews unbiased, keep all questions related to the job and never move into any personal territory. Do not ask any question where the information in the answer is irrelevant to the recruitment decision. Common questions like asking about marital status or about children can land you in trouble. Before you sit on an interview board, disable all your disability related questions – ask about abilities related to the job.
  • Create a questionnaire or a script and ask all interviewees for the same job role, the same set of questions.
  • Remember written evidence excludes oral evidence, so all notes you take at an interview and everything you write down can be scrutinized later on to draw a conclusion of bias. Be careful. It is not good practice at job interviews to note down or record your opinions in place of the information provided by the interviewee.
  • Treat everyone with respect, so that no one walks away with a special grudge.
What you need to keep absolutely in mind is that a job interview is conducted to find out whether the candidate has the skills and abilities to perform the job role adequately. Problems start to appear when you move away to other areas from this central focus of judging skills, abilities and attributes needed for the job role at hand. To keep bias to a minimum or to root it out altogether during job interview processes, recruiters need to research, be aware of latest stances of the courts on anti-discrimination, learn what can be asked as well as what cannot be asked in an interview, and discuss and share the knowledge among interviewers.
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