Resumes and Interviews: Reducing Bias for Inclusive Hiring [723 words]

Unconscious bias can influence our hiring processes in ways we don’t readily recognize. This makes it hard for us to recognize qualified candidates who may not conform to our expectations. Once you’ve ensured that your job postings are inclusive, it’s time to take the next step in your selection process. This article offers four suggestions for reducing bias when ranking resumes and interviews.

Measurable Criteria for Resumes and Interviews

Have very clear scoring criteria in place before you receive the first resume. When we don’t have clear, objective criteria, we tend to go with the people that we like the best. If liking the person is important, make that one of your criteria. Just don’t make it the only criteria. Otherwise, we can tell ourselves stories about why we’re making a particular choice. Those stories may or may not be true.

We also tend to look for “culture fit.” Culture fit is great in theory, but it’s why we tend to have homogeneous organizations. So, instead of culture fit think in terms of “culture contribution.” Everybody should bring something to the team that no one else has. If you hire somebody who can bring in a different perspective, make it your mission to ensure the team is working together in harmony.

Diversify Your Selection Team

A lot of times in big companies, there are management teams or selection committees. In smaller companies, though, you can become isolated. Whenever possible, have a panel of people reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. Most of us don’t go into our selection process alone. If you typically fly solo, find a peer in another department with whom you can partner. Look for someone who is not like you in ways that are important to you: gender, race, educational background, or job function within the company.

Share your scoring criteria with your selection team or partner. Score the resumes independently, and compare your scores. This is a great way to combat the unconscious bias. If you’re looking at what you believe are objective criteria and a resume, and your partner is looking the same criteria and resume, your scores should be similar. But if one of you calculates a score of 75, and the other comes up with a score of 22, then somebody’s biases are at work.

Redact Resumes

As you go through the resume scoring process you’ll understand what your biases are pretty quickly. Then, you can work to counteract those biases through redacting. Study after study has found that superficial criteria can drastically impact the success of a candidate’s resume. Minority-affiliated names, an address is in the wrong part of town, or graduating from the wrong school can all be barriers for well-qualified candidates. When we screen resumes, we zone in on those things as biases; some of them may be relevant in certain situations, but most of them are not.

It’s really easy to have someone take a black marker and redact anything that’s not relevant to the job criteria. Then, when you get the resume, you’re seeing a first initial and a last initial, rather than a name. The person’s name could be Jose Rodriguez or Jane Reynolds or Jamal Robinson, but you only see J—- R——-. You may see the type of degree the person has, but not the year they graduated. Skills and experience may be highlighted, but specific job titles are hidden.

Standardize Interviews

Finally, make sure that interviews are standardized, so you’re asking the same questions of each candidate. If possible, have a diverse panel of interviewers. Each interviewer should have his or her own script, and then score each candidate on the same criteria.

This runs counter to what a lot of people say, but I believe phone interviews are another great way to mitigate bias. Because we tend to judge people based on very superficial things, such as how they’re dressed how, much they weigh, how much makeup they wear. These superficial things have nothing at all to do with performance on the job. If you have a panel of interviewers, try having one person who only does phone interviews. If your candidate scores very differently in a phone interview then he or she does in a live interview, explore whether personal bias is a factor.

What other steps have you taken to reduce the biases in your hiring processes?

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at

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12 responses to “Resumes and Interviews: Reducing Bias for Inclusive Hiring [723 words]”
  1. […] work for free, nor should they! It’s not an insignificant amount of time to write the posting, review resumes, screen candidates, schedule interviews, follow up, negotiate offers, verify references, and (in […]

  2. […] words encouraging atypical job seekers to contact the hiring department for assistance in the interview process, few organizations are willing to truly accommodate us. To navigate the short interview timeframes, […]

  3. […] time to shore up your selection process. Review job descriptions for bias, create a system for reviewing resumes, implement training for conducting interviews. Look in new places to be sure your talent pipeline […]

  4. Joseph Nwoye Avatar

    Hi Amy,
    Happy New Year! I just read your article on how to reduce bias in hiring. Excellent points, and thank you for all you do.

    1. Amy Waninger Avatar
      Amy Waninger

      Thanks for reading and responding!

  5. […] you redact resumes or let the biases of your managers dictate who gets an interview? How do you prevent them from […]

  6. […] you ever received a job application from someone who isn’t currently working? Were you quick to move it to the bottom of the pile? Do […]

  7. […] are currently the largest generation in the labor force. It only makes sense to adjust your recruitment process to appeal to them. Here are a few strategies that you can incorporate into your current hiring […]

  8. […] your slate of candidates is as diverse as possible. You’ve followed scoring criteria for evaluating resumes and conducting fair interviews. Now it’s time to for the hard work: making a hiring […]

  9. […] to ensure no candidate is overlooked because of my biases. Recently I have asked recruiters to scrub resumes of dates in order to ensure I don’t try to figure out how old the applicant is or how long an […]

  10. KolormeHR Avatar

    Great suggestions!

    1. Amy C. Waninger Avatar
      Amy C. Waninger

      Thank you! Do you have any to add?

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