2 women interviewing a 3rd for a job

Think about the last time you interviewed someone whom you recommended for a job at your company. How did you describe this person? Perhaps you thought they would be a “good culture fit.” Chances are that your instincts were telling you this person and “the vibe” they were giving was right for your organization. Or maybe they attended the same university as you, and you had a lot in common.  

Each of these scenarios is an example of hiring bias. Hiring bias is when someone makes hiring decisions based on instinct or a “gut feeling.” It happens to everyone, especially when relying on first impressions about a candidate. But when it goes unchecked, such bias can lead to bad hires and stifle diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) within an organization.  

Addressing hiring bias is a smart business decision 

According to Great Place to Work, research on diverse and inclusive workplaces shows numerous benefits to the organization and its employees including stronger top-line performance, greater readiness to innovate, and higher employee retention. Additionally, top talent today is seeking organizations that are committed to DEIB, not only in speech, but in practice. Addressing bias in the hiring process is a smart place to start.   

Academy to Innovate HR describes inclusive hiring as a “process [that] actively recognizes diversity and embraces a wide range of qualities and perspectives that candidates bring to the organization. It’s not simply about recruiting people from underrepresented backgrounds or with disabilities in an effort to tick off a box. Instead, inclusive hiring practices aim to level the playing field for all applicants in order to fight against recruitment bias and any form of discrimination.” 

Here are three practical ways you can reduce bias and design an inclusive hiring process. 

Reimagine job postings 

Traditional job descriptions include gendered language that might draw or detract men versus women. For example, “competitive” and “assertive” are considered masculine language, while “collaborative” or “harmonious” are considered feminine. Instead of using such adjectives, define the behavioral skills and competencies that are necessary for exceptional performance. Tools such as Gender Decoder help to create more inclusive job postings by stripping out masculine or feminine terms and highlighting a position’s roles and responsibilities. 

Additionally, widen the pool of potential candidates by expanding job opening advertisements. For example, use job boards such as Diversity Job Board, iHispano, or Professional Diversity Network. Finally, ensure job postings adhere to accessibility standards by including transcripts and close captions for video and audio files and alternative texts for images. Check out Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for guidance. 

Revamp resume review 

Typically, bias rears its head the most during the resume review and interview process. Unconscious or implicit bias are stereotypes about various social and identity groups that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Every individual involved in the interview process—from the recruiter to the hiring manager—must intentionally address their own biases to ensure an inclusive hiring process.  

One way to do so is by using software like Applied, GapJumpers, and Unitive that remove age, gender, education, and socioeconomic background from resumes so managers can focus on talent only. However, even these tools can learn subjectivity from their vendor, so any AI must be monitored for algorithm bias. 

Standardize interviews 

Diverse interview panels can help reduce bias by seeing a candidate from different perspectives. And behavioral and situational interview questions focus on how the candidate might exhibit the skills and competencies needed for success in the role. Such questions include: 

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure. 
  • How do you handle a challenge? 
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it. 
  • Tell me about a time you had to collaborate with a coworker who was difficult to work with. 
  • Describe a time when you had too many to do items on your list. How did you solve the problem?

Finally, standardizing interviews might mean asking the same set of questions to all candidates to ensure the utmost objectivity. Provide interviewers a script that accompanies the questions, and metrics to help them track to what extent the candidate’s answers match pre-established skills and competencies.  

The role of strategy  

Practicing inclusive hiring must be part of an overall DEIB strategy for your organization. Start by defining what diversity and inclusion means to you. Setting objectives for DEIB initiatives such as inclusive hiring and aligning them with business priorities is key for securing buy-in and ensuring results.  

Additionally, diversity goals can keep all stakeholders aligned and accountable to results. These goals for hiring diverse employees might be part of your organization’s scorecard to ensure an inclusive hiring process is supporting overarching talent and business goals.  

Brighter Strategies works with dozens of companies to implement inclusive hiring within their workforces. We employ a DEIB lens to our work and identify the appropriate resources that support equitable and inclusive workplace practices. Our goal is to help you create an equitable, efficient, motivational work environment; increase productivity; and ultimately drive your organization towards growth and success. Learn more here. 

Inclusive Hiring Framework

Attracting, hiring, and retaining talent are critical elements of any Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan. But having a diverse pool of candidates to choose from doesn’t just happen. Paying attention to sourcing techniques, the interview process, candidate evaluation and onboarding is necessary to developing a well-rounded workforce.

inclusive hiring chart