Schedule a Call

Are Your Biases Keeping Diversity Out? What Hiring Managers Need to Know to Bring Diversity In

Mar 04, 2024
A clipboard with a diagram on it showing the intersection between facts and beliefs. It also shows a yellow sticky note with the words


Hiring managers hold a distinct role as the entry point into an organization. Essentially, they determine who could potentially be the “best fit” for a position.

The problem is that, whether consciously or not, hiring managers assess candidates based on their own culturally influenced value systems. So, for organizations aiming to diversify their workforce, these individuals need to understand how their biases will influence this process.


The Impact of Bias on the Hiring Process

We all tend to “prejudge” individuals based on the groups to which they belong. This prejudgment can be positive or negative and, oftentimes, we are unaware of the role it plays in the selection process.

The issue lies in our brain's innate tendency to form unconscious judgments about others. Psychologists affirm it is virtually impossible to avoid these judgments. Once made, these snap judgments hinder our capacity to genuinely assess individuals for who they are, which compromises our ability to be fair and objective.

Numerous studies have shown the consequences of implicit bias. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that resumes with "typically white" names received 50% more callbacks than those with "typically black" names. Even highly skilled candidates with "typically black" names received fewer callbacks than the average candidates with "typically white" names.

As a hiring manager, you need to recognize that your biases will significantly influence your decision-making process, potentially impacting whether the most qualified candidate is hired for the job.


How Bias Impacts the Interview and Keeps Diversity Out

Unfortunately, most hiring managers are unaware that unconscious, exclusionary practices frequently manifest during the interview process. For example, depending on a candidate’s communication style, they may be judged unfavorably simply because of the way they speak or process information.

In the United States, the prevalent communication style in many contexts is the "direct style." Consequently, candidates are anticipated to offer clear and concise responses, and those who adhere to this style are often perceived as better suited for the position.

Alternatively, some candidates may opt for a more "indirect" approach, feeling that they can more effectively convey their ideas or address the issue at hand through storytelling. This approach may pose a challenge, though, since hiring managers might mistakenly perceive the indirect communicator as veering off-topic or losing focus.

While individuals in all cultures may be more or less direct and the style they choose will depend on the context or situation at hand, hiring managers must recognize style differences before evaluating a potential candidate negatively. Put simply, they need to understand that a candidate's response style may reflect their unique thought patterns and communication preferences rather than their actual ability to perform.


Two Essential Questions to Ask Before Your Next Set of Interviews

In every interview, hiring managers have to wrestle with the following dilemma: Am I bringing the best candidate in or am I aiming for (either consciously or unconsciously) a candidate who will best fit existing organizational norms?

Interview behaviors such as being straightforward, direct, succinct, and to the point conform to typical, U.S. mainstream values. A deviation from these values needs to be seen for what it really is: a difference in style and not inability to perform.

If hiring managers do not notice, learn about, or respond appropriately to the diverse candidates knocking on their doors, they will be greatly jeopardizing their company’s ability to become a truly diverse organization.

So, before your next round of interviews, think about the following:

  • What stereotypes, biases, and prejudices do I have and how will they impact the way I evaluate certain candidates?
  • What do I need to learn about a candidate’s cultural background to ensure I can evaluate them fairly and equitably?


👉 👉 Mastering Cultural Differences offers an interactive workshop for organizations interested in ensuring individuals understand the impact of unconscious bias on several aspects of the organization. Contact me if you think your team could benefit from this training.


Subscribe to The DEI+ Newsletter!

Sign up to get weekly tips and strategies about diversity, equity, and inclusion to help you increase your DEI IQ. Emails are guaranteed short and to the point!