Chances are when hiring a teacher, you’ve already made a series of snap judgments about them; only looked at candidates similar to yourself; compared them to other candidates in a way that’s not helpful; or focused too heavily on one small detail.
Tips for reducing bias in the hiring process
We know the saying ‘trust your gut’, but even this can lead to biased hiring decisions as it is effectively telling recruiters to listen to their implicit bias as opposed to actual candidate quality. So how can we change the way we review, interview, and hire candidates to minimize the impact of implicit bias?
1. Expand where you post jobs
By only posting a position on one job board or in one place, it limits the number of people who have access to the position. This hinders the number of diverse applicants who could respond to it. Posting available positions in multiple places can allow a wider variety of people to see it.
2. Remove bias in job descriptions
Create clear, precise, and unbiased requirements in the job description that would not discriminate against people of a certain group. As an international recruitment agency, it’s a common thing to see in job descriptions requirements like ‘neutral accent preferred’ or ‘US applicants only’.
However, this sort of language hinders a school’s chance at hiring teachers with multiple accents and backgrounds. After all, in the real world, students will encounter many people with many different accents, therefore it’s beneficial for them to be exposed to a variety of accents and backgrounds.
3. Use a standardized interview scorecard
When interviewing a candidate, it can be a good tool to have a standardized scorecard. The Harvard Business Bureau created a scorecard to use on every candidate, which helps combat instances of the halo/horn effect. This can also help later on when the interviewer sits down to reflect on the chat.
4. Conduct several interviews and use multiple interviewers
Most people form a first impression with someone within 15 seconds of meeting them. We also latch on to the affinity bias in wanting to hire people who are like us. Holding multiple interviews with different interviewers allows an organization to have different experiences with the candidate – and this way, the interviewee is not just looked at through one singular viewpoint.
5. Standardize interview questions
Think about the way interview questions are worded and rephrase them to be as clear and standard as possible.
Instead of asking ‘tell me about a time when…’ which could put less experienced candidates on the spot with having to think about something that may/may not have happened to them, rephrase it by saying ‘what would you do in this situation?’.
This allows them to think about a hypothetical situation instead of having to reflect on a personal experience. Always make sure that you’re asking every candidate the same questions.
6. Training your hiring staff on reducing bias
The best way to change our habits and grow personally and professionally is through continuous learning. It’s important to have this conversation in the workplace and consider training your staff, especially your recruiters, about how to recognize and address implicit biases during the hiring process and beyond.
At the end of the day, we’re all human and subject to making mistakes. However, it’s important to recognize those mistakes, learn how to address and fix them, and grow into better educators and hiring managers. It’s up to us to not only make the hiring process a more inclusive, open experience, but also create a more diverse and inclusive school, staff, and future.
If your school needs help recruiting teachers, you can learn more about our international teacher recruitment service here or our U.S. teacher recruitment service here. Please reach out with any questions!