If you are hiring someone to join your family business, it is important to use a method that is a reliable indicator of employee performance. Unstructured interviews are a popular choice for hiring managers, as it feels like a better flowing conversation with no set of questions prepared in advance. However, since different questions are asked in each interview, it can be very difficult to compare the candidates to each other.

Types of Bias

This approach may bring bias into the interview process. For example, we tend to like people who are similar to us, so if the manager and candidate have an experience or trait in common with each other, the manager will generally think more highly of that person over other candidates who did not share that same experience or trait.

Halo vs. Horn Effect

Another common bias is the halo effect, which is where one positive fact about the candidate creates an overall positive impression, rejecting evidence to the contrary. There is also the horn effect, where a negative fact creates an overall negative impression, rejecting anything positive about the candidate.

Recency Bias

Additionally, there is the recency bias, which is when people only remember the first and last thing other people say, leaving everything in the middle forgotten. When going back and assessing the candidates interviewed, managers often only compare the first and last things each candidate said and also likely have a stronger memory of the last couple of candidates interviewed. This could negatively impact the hiring process, as the ones who might actually be the best employees for the job may not be the ones who get hired.

Mitigating Bias

Unconscious biases impact who we do and do not hire. In order to mitigate potential biases in interviews and hiring, your family business should create a structured interview process. This process can be highly effective in hiring the best candidates for the job.

A structured interview is where the same questions are asked in the same order to each candidate. This standardized process will help eliminate a lot of the subjectivity that occurs in unstructured interviews, since there is a clear cut way to evaluate and compare each candidate and his or her responses. The first step is to write down your expectations of an ideal employee. Next, develop a list of questions and a rating scale. Take notes as you interview each candidate on each response and give a rating. After everyone has been interviewed, you can compare the candidates using the rating scale.

Since you took notes and gave ratings during the interview, you most likely will not forget the middle parts of each interview and the earlier interviewed candidates. This will allow for a more objective comparison without potential bias from a more open-ended interview.

It is also helpful to compare each candidate's responses horizontally. In other words, you first compare each candidate's response on the first question, then compare each candidate's response on the second question, and so on. This method will allow you to directly compare the same question among all candidates. This method further eliminates any need to rely on unconscious biases about people in making hiring decisions.

Implementing structured interviews is a great first step in eliminating bias during the hiring process. As a family business owner, you want to bring on the best people for the job, and in order to do so you must stay disciplined enough to stick to the predetermined questions. This will allow you to better evaluate each candidate based on the rating you gave for each question rather than on any possible biases.