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Three strategies for avoiding bias in recruitment

July 19, 2021
July 19, 2021

There’s no denying that bias is a negative force in any workplace, even when prospective employees are being interviewed and considered to join an existing team. This blog post focused on addressing and preventing bias is taken from the HealthStream article, “Understanding the Cost of Bias at Your Organization,” based on a webinar presented by Jeremy Short, a HealthStream subject matter expert on bias, diversity, and inclusion. As part of his presentation, Short shares the importance of acknowledging that as a part of basic human nature we all have bias. At heart, bias is a prejudgment that occurs to help the human brain sort and categorize our world and the environments we encounter. Bias creates useful shortcuts for faster decision making based on past experiences and upbringing, or on information that your brain has told you ahead of time. What’s essential to understand is that biases can be positive or negative.

Bias can have a negative impact on successful recruitment

An important area in which to reduce bias is recruitment. Start by understanding that you cannot eliminate bias completely in this area, because recruitment will always have a subjective component, especially in interactions like face-to-face conversations. However, there are three important strategies for reducing the impact of bias on recruitment.

  1. Standardize interview processes – Create a standardized process for the candidates who interview in your organization. Every candidate needs to have a consistent experience, with touch points established to help someone meaningfully advance through the process. You should be asking the same number of questions and spending the same amount of time with every prospect, so that your assessment of each of them is roughly the same.

  2. Establish hiring criteria – Before you start reviewing, be clear about what you are looking for in a candidate and know the most important criteria before making a hiring decision. The reality is that if you’re not clear about what you’re looking for, you’re going to rely heavily on “fit.” The door is opened further to the harmful effect of bias when we allow decisions to include ill-defined characteristics like job fit, workplace fit, or culture fit. If you are clear about what you’re looking for in a candidate and your hiring criteria at the outset, you limit the influence of any considerations that aren’t applicable to the hiring criteria.

  3. Train managers about bias awareness – Train your managers, and anyone included in the interview process, on the negative impact of bias to raise their awareness. The more you hear these words, the more you think, and the more you understand your own biases. Get past the idea that you don’t have biases—you do! Move on to “Okay, now, what are they? What can I do about it?” That’s the most significant and important piece in that process.

Create an inclusive culture to manage and address equity

A workforce and organization that understands the importance of recognizing unconscious bias, diversity in the workplace, cultural competence, and health literacy not only improves peer-to-peer and caregiver-to-patient relationships, but also has the power to influence your organization’s culture, place in your community, and bottom line. Explore HealthStream solutions that support workforce diversity and inclusion.