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Monday Musing: Combating Bias by Redesigning the Interview Process

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

This week’s musing isn’t even going to take me the usual 15 minutes. 

Here, read this: How to Take the Bias Out of Interviews.

I’ve written about challenge-based hiring and blind auditions as techniques to reduce hiring bias, but I’ve still been angsting about last steps in the process. At some point, in the museum or association realm, you are going to come face-to-real-world-face with your finalists. (Though I did read one interesting article lately about interviewing candidates who present themselves as VR avatars, enabling them to mask their personal characteristics.) How to you, as a manager/decision maker, avoid falling prey to unconscious bias? As the article I link to reiterates, we all have a tendency to hire people “like us,” which both limits diversity and reinforces the gender segregation of many professions.

This article offers some excellent advice for structuring face-to-face interviews, if you are going to use them at all. The author recommends:

  • Using standardized, structured interviews
  • Posing the same questions, in the same order, to each candidate
  • Compare the candidates’ answers horizontally–that is, Q1 to Q1, Q2 to Q2, etc
  • Abandon panel interviews and have each interviewer talk to each candidate individually
  • Have evaluators submit their assessments before a meeting where candidates are discussed

The article notes “While it’s exceedingly difficult to remove bias from an individual, it’s possible to design organizations in ways that make it harder for biased minds to skew judgment.” So let’s get with it folks. It may be impossible to eliminate unconscious bias from our organizations, but we can re-engineer our hiring practices to rob those biases of their power. 

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