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Strategies for Identifying and Managing Personal Bias in Hiring

To hire truly diverse teams, well-intentioned hiring managers need to do more than update their selection processes. They’ll also need to confront and change their internal biases — which we all have. Because humans are naturally inclined to align with people similar to them, these biases are often unconscious. The first step in undoing bias, according to inclusion strategist Ruchika Tulshyan, is to adopt a growth mindset and welcome the opportunity to learn and improve. Here are the additional strategies Tulshyan outlines in her Harvard Business Review article “How to Reduce Personal Bias When Hiring.”

  • Accept that you have an affinity bias.
  • Create a list of resources.
  • Understand where bias could occur.
  • Reduce peer influence in hiring decisions.
  • Flip it.

In hiring, an affinity bias might mean that you gravitate toward people who have the same gender, alma mater, or even hobbies. Accepting and recognizing your personal affinities helps you begin to overcome bias.

Educating yourself on diversity strategies by reading books, listening to podcasts, and seeking out other resources from and about underrepresented communities can help you uncover and confidently discuss bias in the workplace.

Before making hiring decisions, identify where bias might influence your choices. Think about why you prefer a particular candidate, and ask whether those reasons demonstrate any bias.

Keeping colleagues’ opinions about candidates private helps individual managers develop their own thoughts, without the impact of outside ideas.

If the candidate were of a different gender or race, would you have the same opinion? Asking questions like this helps quickly and clearly identify potential bias.

“By recognizing how we benefit from reducing our own bias — rather than focusing on the ROI for the company — we’re likely to be more motivated to take action,” the author writes. While it’s not always easy to break from the status quo, identifying bias and taking strong steps to overcome it impacts every person in the company and enriches their individual experiences, making it a worthwhile endeavor.

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