Blogpost - Managing Bias: Interviews or just your views?
“What a person sees depends both upon what they look at and also upon what their previous visual-conceptual experience has taught them to see”.
Thomas A. Kuhn
There was a person who inherited an ailment in their hand. When they were a child there was no known cure so they passed the years doing the best they could with what they had. When they reached maturity, miraculously a cure for this particular ailment was discovered but it was not widely known. A friend, who was aware of the cure, one day asked,
How’s your hand?
Yeah, it’s okay I do the best with what I have.
Would you like your hand to get better?
“Well, I don’t know you know, my father had this condition, it’s always been this way for me, so I don’t want to cause any fuss and disturb the order of things and anyway I have learnt to live with it now.
I would go as far as to say that recruitment to some degree is suffering from a broken hand working with an inherited system which is out of date and to some extent not fit for purpose. “Time and again, the research shows that interviews are poor predictors of job performance because we tend to hire people we think are similar to us rather than those who are objectively going to do a good job”. Ori Brafman, quoted in “Overcoming the ‘Sway’ in Professional Life”.
Researchers have suggested that as a result of interviews being a personal exchange between people, there is huge room for social factors – that are not related to the candidate’s ability to do the job. Recruitment decisions are vulnerable to subjectivity, biases and other influences. We need to be mindful in the moment and take steps to counteract our biases in order to introduce more objectivity.
On the other side of the fence, there’s no disputing the fact that people interview differently, self-promote differently, and negotiate their compensation differently. How do you level the playing field so you get the best people for the job?
Firstly, you can consider creating a process which enables a multi-dimensional experience, a way of assessing talent with less emphasis on candidates “selling themselves”. (This will be the subject of my next post)
Secondly, you can work towards managing unconscious bias, in all its forms and keeping it in check during the interview process.
Some top tips for doing this;
• Begin by recognising that you – and everyone else – have unconscious biases. Examine whether there are differences in the types of questions you ask different types of individuals. Take the Harvard Implicit Association Tests at, https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ , to learn more about your conscious and unconscious preferences.
• Learn to unlearn - Work to understand how the mind is hardwired and how we make decisions based on what we our previous visual experience has taught to us. Identify personal assumptions and general stereotypes which act as barriers to objectivity.
• Where you find unconscious bias, make the effort to learn more about members of that group. Unconscious bias tends to thrive on a lack of information.
• Try using memory joggers – written notes or images – to remind you of the need to remain vigilant and objective.
• Keep in mind that, unconscious bias is more likely to play a role in your decision making when you are under pressure or when there is a great deal of uncertainty. If you are under pressure, try taking a break or using another mechanism to reduce your stress.
• When taking or recommending actions, look at the basis for your decisions and ask yourself if there is objective data to support your action or if unconscious bias is at work. Did that person you just interviewed remind you of a childhood friend and did that lead you to be slightly more supportive in the interview than you would have been otherwise
• Increasing accountability can reduce the effect of bias and increases the accuracy of evaluations, so make sure there is a culture/requirement for interview note taking, and evaluators should use named forms, and each interviewer selection decision should be justified, documented and filed.
Just some ideas to get you going, until next time.....
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