YourABA: June 2013
YourABA June 2013 Masthead

Take implicit bias out of the hiring process

It is essential to identify prospective new hires who have great skills and will fit into the culture of your firm. However, based on a vast amount of data derived from the Implicit Association Test, it is clear that ingrained, unconscious biases may cause us to perceive others based on stereotypes rather than on individual merit.

The IAT can measure your implicit attitude toward many different groups. For example, there are tests to measure your implicit bias based on race/ethnicity, skin tone, religion and many other factors.

Data from the IAT show that the advancement of women is hampered by stereotypes linking women to home and family. A study also shows that when evaluating identical résumés, participants were more likely to interview an attorney with a name more often identified with Caucasian Americans rather than a name identified with African-Americans.

So how do employers ensure that it is more likely that optimal hiring decisions are made consistently? The Young Lawyer offers these tips:

  • Have members of the interview team measure their biases by taking the IAT. Once you are aware of your personal biases, you can be motivated to change your reaction based on personal values. Remain alert to your implicit preferences and recognize that they may intrude into your judgment about a candidate.
  • Define the traits and skills required to do the job before the interview process begins and stay focused on them.
  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques. These techniques help to remove bias and subjectivity from the interviewing process, as the interviewers are probing for how the candidate reacted in various situations to help gauge whether the candidate will fit into the culture of your business. For example, ask candidates to describe a situation in which they received feedback that they did not agree with and how they incorporated that feedback into their behavior.
  • Have a deliberative hiring process. Remember that decisions made quickly without time for reflection are more prone to correlate to your stereotypes about people.

The Young Lawyer is a publication of the Young Lawyers Division.

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