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Fight Your Unconscious Bias When Hiring

In today’s competitive labor market, we are facing the problem that managers, consciously or not, look to hire people that are similar to themselves. Ultimately, this contributes to a lack of diversity and many qualified candidates being overlooked.

A recent Indeed survey shows that when it comes to actual workplace performance, attributes such as working well with others, strategic thinking and self-direction ranked much higher as indicators of top workplace performance than a prestigious college diploma.

Consciously we know that top performers don’t necessarily have to have top degrees, but it doesn’t prevent our biases from sneaking in. Here are some ways to combat bias and build more diverse teams:

• Include a diverse set of candidates for every job - and be generous with how you define “diverse.” Diverse candidates are not just different genders. Age, race, ethnicity, education and career path are other ways to bring in different types of candidates.
• Have at least one, and preferably more, additionally managers within your company interview the top candidates. This will help to gain alternate impressions about the candidate and to mitigate the risk of ‘just like you’ hires.
• Instead of focusing on the college degree for entry level grads, look at what else they did when going to school. Were they able to successfully balance school with a job or volunteer work? Are they able to demonstrate the technical ability for the job? Outside of school activities are often good indicators of someone’s work ethic or personality.
• Train your managers regularly. It’s easy to fall into bad habits during the hiring process, especially if you are hiring a large volume of people. That’s why it’s important to properly train your managers for hiring.

It’s a tight labor market with plenty of competition for talent. It’s more important than ever to be open-minded about the type of people you bring into your organization. The most successful teams and companies have true diversity of thought, and you can’t build that without real diversity of experience.