How Can IT Managers Hire Without Bias?

To increase diversity in IT, IT managers need to take the bias out of the hiring process
To increase diversity in IT, IT managers need to take the bias out of the hiring process
Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

Just in case you have somehow not gotten the message, if you want to build the best IT team that will be able to help you succeed in your career, you are going to want to use your IT manager skills and make it as diverse as you possibly can. Having all of those people with different backgrounds ensures you that you’ll get the different opinions and solutions that a team needs in order to be successful. However, there’s a problem here. The hiring process that you use is broken – it has bias built into it and you’ll never get the diverse employees that you so desperately need. What’s an IT manager to do?

Know What You Want Before You Start

When you are trying to fill a positon on your team, before you meet with any of the candidates you are going to want to do some homework just like you’ve been taught in your IT manager training. What you are going to have to do is to make some decisions about what characteristics of a candidate are going to be the most important to you for this position. What you are going to be trying to avoid is an implicit bias that could lead you to rationalize why you like one candidate over another.

What you need to do is to make a decision about what characteristics are the most important for this position. What matters more: where the candidate went to school or how many years of experience they have under their belt? Having determined what is the most important characteristics to you before you start the interviews will allow you to make a better decision when you run into candidates that have different but equal qualifications.

Use A Script When Interviewing

One of the biggest problems that an IT manager is going to run into during the interview will be that they may feel a connection to candidates that are more like them. You will have realize that this can happen and take steps to prevent it. If you do connect with a candidate, their level of stress will decrease and they will probably do better during the interview. However, for those candidates that you don’t connect with, their stress will be higher and they’ll do more poorly during the interview just because of a lack of a connection with you.

The way to avoid having this problem is for you to create a script for the interview. If you do this, then you can ensure an equal and a fair interview for all job candidates. When you ask each candidate the same set of questions or have them all perform the same task, the candidate who is truly the best fit for the position will naturally stand out.

Create Metrics To Make Decisions

Let’s face it, it can be a real challenge to determine if a candidate is the right person for a job. We’ll talk to multiple candidates all of whom have a number of compelling features and in the end we’re going to be left scratching our heads trying to determine which of them would be the best fit. In order to provide ourselves with a way to measure the different people who will be applying for the job, we need to create a common set of metrics that we can use to measure and compare each of the candidates.

The challenge here is that if we wait too long and try to piece together a set of metrics after we’ve met with the candidates, then it will be too late. What will happen is bias will start to creep into the evaluation system. There will be candidates that we bonded with because of similarities to us and we’ll rank their features as being higher than all others. What needs to be done is the metrics that we’ll use to evaluate candidates have to be written down before the interviews start. Only by doing it this way can we ensure a fair and unbiased approach to filling this position.

What All Of This Means For You

As an IT manager, you’d like to be able to assemble the most diverse IT possible. The more diverse your team is, the better they are going to be at using things like IT team building to come up with novel and different solutions to the most complex problems that you will be facing. However, you have a problem on your hands. There are bias built-in to the way that you interview and hire people for your team. You need to be able to see these bias and then implement ways to overcome them.

Knowing what you want before you meet with the first candidate is critical. It is all too easy to bond with one of the candidates and then decide that their characteristics are what this position needs. If you share things in common with one or more of the candidates, they will start to relax and do better in the interview. Likewise, candidates that you don’t have anything in common will be more stressed. This is why you need a script for how you will conduct the interview in order to ensure that you treat everyone the same way. Many candidates can seem qualified for a job, just in different ways. This is why before starting the interview process you need to create a list of metrics that will allow you to fairly compare each candidate to each other.

If you can create a truly diverse team, then that team will be able to creatively solve the most complex problems. However, before you can create a team like that, you are going to have to first eliminate the bias that exist in the hiring process. These bias can be almost anywhere. Take the time to make sure that your candidate evaluation system gives everyone a fair chance and you’ll end up with a world-class IT team!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think putting all resumes into a common form would help to eliminate any bias in evaluating them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Pick up just about any trade rag these days and you are going to run into a story talking about the fantastic new things that are going to be possible very soon because of the arrival of new artificial intelligence technology. There are all sorts of startup firms out there that are raising a lot of money because they say that they are getting ready to do the next big thing with artificial intelligence. Over 140 artificial intelligence companies have been bought by other companies over the past five years and 40 such companies have been bought this year alone. What does this explosion of AI mean for IT managers?