4 Steps to Use Behavioral Interviews to Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process

4 Steps to Use Behavioral Interviews to Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process

Whether remote or in-person, interviews are an opportunity for you to gain insights into a candidate’s experience, competencies, potential, and behavior beyond their resume and references. This is also the step where our biases are most likely to creep in.

Decades of research have shown how stereotypes unconsciously influence perceptions and evaluations when making employment-related decisions. Unconscious biases can impact an interviewer’s behavior and in turn, impact the candidate’s performance rating. For example, if an interviewer anticipates a candidate is ‘good’ for the role they may offer them more second chances to answer questions or ask probing questions to generate a more favorable response.

Studies Estimate that Bias infects the Hiring Decisions of 20–40% of Employers

Marc Bendick Jr. & Ana P. Nunes

Especially given the current world events as well as the move to remote meetings and interviews, it is important to use technology and tools to your advantage and protect your company. All TalentClick reports provide personalized interview questions based on a candidate’s personality to help you ask better questions, get deeper answers, and make better hiring decisions with these added insights.

Our personalized questions are based on the ‘Behavioral Interview’ technique. A candidate is asked to provide specific cases of how they have demonstrated certain behaviors, knowledge, or skills at past jobs. Their answers provide verifiable, concrete examples that an interviewer can categorize and rate for future review. This standardizes the process across all interviewers and is 9 times more effective than standard unstructured interviews.

Follow these 4 simple steps to refine your interviews and probe deeper into a candidate’s on the job behavior:

  1. Determine anchors to standardize interviewer rating:
    Before you begin interviewing, determine behavioral anchors to standardize the way you interpret candidate answers. Anchors provide an understanding of what behaviors pertaining to that competency are classified as a 1 (Does Not Meet Requirements) versus a 5 (Greatly Exceeds Requirements). These anchors help standardize interpretation across all interviewers. A way to help develop anchors is to review critical incident reports and determine the anchor for what behavior does not meet requirements first.

  2. Pick Behavioral Questions based on assessment results
    The most powerful areas to probe into for a candidate are a combination of where they fall outside the ideal profile benchmark and the dimensions that you consider to be most important for success in the role. By looking at dimensions where a candidate falls outside the benchmark, you can probe into how this affects their on-the-job behavior: has it negatively impacted their performance in the past, or do they manage it well?

    You can find researched questions on all TalentClick reports. Here is an example of interview questions for the Impatient vs. Patient dimension to probe into on the job behavior:

  3. If their answer is vague, probe deeper:
    In an interview, a candidate may not go into sufficient detail when providing an example. If that is the case, you can  probe deeper to truly assess the competency by asking a follow-up question like: 

    • Could you please tell me more about that?
    • Could you give me some examples?
    • What stands out in your mind about that?

    Specific questions lead to more insightful answers, which in turn help you make better hiring decisions. Hopefully, by digging deeper you will be able to understand if the candidate has the skills and competencies to perform the job or not and provide a more accurate picture of their behavior.

  4. Compare answer to anchors and give a competency rating:
    Take notes throughout the interview, and afterward, you can determine if the answers satisfied your rating scale. Remember your anchors, and compare to the predetermined levels to give an objective view of the candidate.

    Did their behavioral examples meet the expectations of the job, or is this trait an area of concern? By standardizing responses it will be easier to compare behavior across all candidates, reduce bias, and select those who move forward in the selection process.

Interviewing is challenging, but by understanding behavior you can dig deeper to how your candidate will succeed in a role. If you follow these 4 steps you will be able to standardize your process, limit biases, focus more on job-relevant competencies, and save yourself time by helping make the right hiring decision the first time around.