By Perminus Wainaina
Have you ever hired someone after having an interview where you connected to them? Perhaps you went to the same school, lived in the same estate, or shared common interests.
Sometimes, your personal view may be different from what is needed in a position.
So how do you ensure you hire the most suitable candidates for a position and not let your personal feelings, preferences, or judgment interfere with the hiring process?
Jacob is the human resources manager at a textile company. Recently, the company has been looking to expand operations. As a result, Jacob was tasked with recruiting new personnel to cater for the expansion.
Jacob circulated the advertised positions in his networks. Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous applications for the positions. Once he had shortlisted, he realized the list included a few friends and a close family member.
Jacob sent me an email, seeking advice on how to conduct an interview without being biased.
Part of the email read,
“I’ve been a HR for five years, in that time, I believe I have excelled at my job… I have never interviewed a close friend or relative. Might I be biased to qualify or disqualify them due to the preexisting relationship? How do I ensure there is no favoritism or bias during the interview?”
What are the common types of biases during an interview?
1. Confirmation bias
This is the tendency to align what we see to what we already believe to be true. For example, when you believe something is true, your mind will emphasize the information that supports your truth and downplay any information that goes against it.
For example, if you believe the university you went to is the best, you could focus on the strengths of applicants from the same school and disregard the weaknesses. When you interview someone from a different school, you might focus on their weakness, just to support the fact you believe your school was the best.
Confirmation bias can affect your hiring process when you’re hiring someone from a different tribe, nationality, financial status or educational background.
2. Similar to me bias
This means you end up favoring anyone who thinks, acts like, or looks like you.
A company thrives on diversity; different minds, ideas, and personality come together in synergy to foster growth.
If a company hires one set of individuals, they end up with employees who can only see a situation in a similar way.
3. Gender and tribal bias
A recent report shows that most hiring managers lean towards hiring someone of their own gender. Again, when a company makes a decision to hire from one race or gender, it limits itself to a wider view and experience offered by the other gender or race.
In Kenya, there are companies that are known to hire from one tribe. Even though there have been strides in the recent past, most companies still have the dominance of a few tribes in their workforce.
Additionally, most traditional leaders believed only men could lead effectively.
At a HR manager’s dinner we had recently hosted, a HRM shared she was the only lady in the management team of eight.
When you look at the regional workforce, you’ll notice a trend of biases that have overtaken the job market.
How do you, as the HR, keep away from the above biases and hire the most qualified and befitting candidate?
1. Include others in the recruitment process
The decision on who gets hired rests majorly on you. However, you can include another party to help you with the process.
For example, if you’re recruiting an accounts assistant, you can have the accountant sit-in in the interview. This will help guide you on the desired and most qualified candidate.
2. Be conscious of any bias you may have
Most of the time, we don’t realize we’re biased. However, you can review if you have any of the above biases by reviewing your past experiences. Look at the people you’ve hired and try to classify if they fit into any of the mentioned biases.
When you know the bias you tend to lean to, it’s easier to make decisions as you can look to see if the decision is based on the bias.
3. Employ emotional intelligence in the recruitment process
Emotional intelligence (EQ) means being aware of, expressing, and controlling your emotions. EQ is the key to both personal and professional success.
During an interview, EQ characteristics such as empathy, self-awareness, and self-control can help you make an objective decision. Learn more about Emotional Intelligence Training and how you can use EQ to grow your management skills and career.
At the end of the day, your success, both as a manager and a professional is based on how effective you are at executing your duties. When you hire the right candidates, you stand to grow both the organization and your career.
Perminus Wainaina is an experienced HR Practioner with over 15 years experience in executive recruitment and selection, training, performance management, and Kenyan labour laws.
He has consulted for firms such as Safaricom Sacco, Oxfam, Un Women, Pacis Insurance, Windsor Golf, Muthaiga Country Club, etc. Currently, he represents the private sector at KEBS in the HR standardization committee.