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How to Avoid Bias in Hiring

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

funny motivational speakersThe Blind Audition is a tool orchestras use to prevent common biases towards hiring female musicians. The way it works is, all applicants audition behind a screen so that decision makers could not decipher gender,  and thus make gender neutral hiring decisions.

In his book, the Best Places to Work, Dr. Ron Friedman suggest organizations should use similar methods to avoid biases.

Dr. Friedman asserts that we unknowingly have biases that affect our hiring decisions and undermine our ability to chose the best candidates. For instance, in a physical interview people may carry the following biases:

  • We assume Tall People are natural leaders
  • We assume good looking people are more popular and gregarious 
  • We assume a deep voice is more trustworthy

These biases may influence who we hire, and they may not be the best candidate. Also, you would end up with a workplace full of tall, good looking people with deep voices ( and who would want that?)

Dr. Friedman suggests we instead define a testable activity that would give you an objective metric of how successful that person would be on the job. For instance, a graphic designer could design a functional landing page. Use this test first to determine success and then call for a physical interview.

Dr. Friedman also delves extensively into workspace design. 

Popular now are open offices because they take up less space and encourage and allow collaboration. On the flip side, people end up bombarded with too much going on around them, and it can be loud and distracting.

Conversely, private offices are more isolated and don't have the benefit of interaction and collaboration. 

Dr. Friedman talks about the college campus model, which provides a different environment depending on work that needs to be done. College students go to the gym to network, the library to have quiet study time and the cafeteria to collaborate. Our workspaces could be designed in a similar fashion, where the function of the work drives the use of the room.

Quiet, contemplative work is more secluded; open workspaces are designed for collaboration. 


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