Who you choose to bring into your company will shape the way your organization develops. Employees are, after all, the heart of any company so it stands to reason that hiring new ones can be an involved and important process. But not all hiring strategies are created equal and how you structure your approach to talent acquisition might be costing you strong candidates along the way. If your process isn’t fair to all, candidates might slip through the cracks before they even reach you. Next time you need a few new employees, take a moment before you go off to hire and think about the unintentional barriers that may be built into your process. Prioritizing fairness for all job applicants doesn’t just improve your candidate experience, but it can also help you truly find the right person for the right role.
6 strategies to improve the fairness of your hiring process
What can you do to give your candidates a fairer chance at an open role? Try some of these recommended strategies to improve hiring fairness.
Create benchmarks: If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to rely on gut instinct to make your hiring decisions. Before you start the hiring process, it’s a good idea to create a benchmark of what skills or traits will be needed in a given role. Where possible, try not to build this benchmark alone because you might be adding in your own biases into the process. Instead, canvas opinions from others to create a fair measure for all candidates. An assessment such as the McQuaig Job Survey can help collect insight from those already in the role or those with knowledge of the position to help you create a standardized benchmark that you can then fairly measure all candidates against.
Use inclusive job descriptions: There’s been a lot of talk about the power of job descriptions. How you write your job ads can impact the type of candidates who apply to your position right from the start. Using gendered or cultured language can send signals to candidates about how inclusive a company is. Picking up on those cues might cause candidates to pass you by even if they’d be perfect for the position. It’s a good rule of thumb to get a second or third opinion on your job posting before you send it out. Others might see language cues you’ve missed which can help ensure your final ad is reaching the right candidates.
Train hiring managers: You would be surprised how many hiring managers make important decisions without any sort of training. It’s usually expected that hiring skills can be learned on the fly or worse, that they aren’t even needed for a healthy hiring process. But managers who have received formal training on how to hire and interview are more likely to conduct fair interviews and make more inclusive hiring decisions. Training can include what kind of questions you can ask, the legalities of a fair job interview, and how to structure a successful hiring plan. Giving managers more support can only help when your goal is to provide a fair process for all.
Assess traits and skills: Every candidate is going to arrive at the job interview with a different set of skills and competencies. It can be time-consuming to try and learn all those factors in an interview, especially if your candidate is trained in how to interview well. Assessments are one way of collecting a lot of information quickly while keeping the playing field fair. When you get down to your shortlist of candidates, offer them all the same assessment and structure what you’ll do with the results in advance. Assessments can inform the best interview questions to use, save time by getting to the heart of who a candidate is more quickly, and bring a level standardization to the hiring process that relies on data rather than instinct.
Use behaviour-based interview questions: The questions you choose in an interview can also impact the fairness of your process. If every candidate received a different set of questions, how will you be able to accurately compare them? Maybe you’ll choose to hire one candidate because of a certain skill set only to realize other candidates shared those same skills but were never asked about them. Instead of selecting from the endless list of interview questions on the fly, it’s a better idea to plan your questions in advance. Assessments can help guide what questions will be most relevant to use and when in doubt, try to choose behaviour-based interview questions. These are question types that avoid a yes/no answer and encourage candidates to tell more of a story. The more you can get candidates talking naturally about their background and experience, the more information you’ll have to base your final hiring decision on.
Ask others: Hiring is often a solo activity but there’s really no reason it has to be. Adding multiple voices into the hiring or interview process helps to keep everything fair. You can collect opinions at any stage of the hiring process from the first discussion about open positions to the final job offer being made. Hiring as a group or panel and also help add more diverse opinions into the conversation when weighing qualified candidates. You can interview as a group or you can bring back candidate insight to vet together behind the scenes. Asking for another set of eyes is never a waste of time. Others can see things you might miss and together, your hiring team might have a better chance at uncovering the best candidate for the job.
Bringing fairness back into hiring
Now is an excellent time to take a step back and really look at your recruiting process. Are you able to provide a fair playing field for all candidates who choose to interact with your company? Or are their barriers and bias infiltrating your process that might be costing you potential employees? It’s a good idea to start with a clear vision of what you’re looking for and get others to vet your benchmark to ensure it’s a fair measure. Then look at how you advertise a new job and what job boards you post it on. Many times diversity efforts are stymied right from the sourcing phase because of the language used in a post. Also, consider how your hiring managers are being trained and what sort of tools you’ll use to support an interview. Assessments and behaviour-based interview questions can help to keep everything on a fair footing and ensure every job candidate has the chance to share relevant information with a hiring manager. Lastly, don’t hire in a vacuum. Ask for opinions and think beyond your own natural inclinations. When you take the time to plan out your hiring approach, you can make your process fair for all.