8 Tips To Reduce Interviewer Bias

As you may have heard, interviewing is hard. Even the best interviewers are susceptible to their biases and preferences. 

But by being aware of these biases and actively working against them, you can improve the quality of your interviews and take a step toward more inclusive hiring practices. I’ve found that following some simple rules helps me make my interviews fairer:

How to Overcome Unconscious Bias When Interviewing & Hiring
1. Implement Structured Interviews
2. Define Clear Evaluation Criteria
3. Train Interviewers on Bias Awareness
4. Use Blind Evaluations
5. Diversify Interview Panels
6. Focus on Job-Related Questions
7. Avoid Leading Questions
8. Analyze Data for Bias Patterns

1. Interview Everyone

Interviewing all candidates is the most important action to reduce interviewer bias. Interviewing everyone allows you to get a complete picture of each candidate and hire the best person for the job. 

Interviewing only those people you think are qualified also means that you have less time with them, which means that less information will be gathered during the interview process. 

The more information that is gathered in an interview, the better understanding of how well a candidate will perform in their role will result.

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2. Tell The Candidate What To Expect

Including a brief overview of the interview process and what the interviewer will be looking for in each phase can help reduce bias by giving candidates a framework for how they are expected to perform. 

You should also state that you won’t be asking any illegal questions, so they don’t have to worry about that. 

Additionally, it is helpful to let your interviewee know whether or not you’ll be bringing other people into the room (such as other team members), so they don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated by being questioned in front of an audience (this can especially affect introverts).

3. Use Structured Interviews

Structured interviews are more reliable than unstructured interviews. Unstructured interviews are often done in a disorganized, haphazard way that makes it difficult for the interviewer to stay on track and ensure that all of their questions have been asked.

Structured interviews can be used for any type of job. Some companies only use structured interviews for a specific type of job, but this isn’t necessary. 

If you want to hire someone with specific skills, it’s better to ask questions about those skills in your interview instead of trying to guess whether or not they have them based on their resume alone.

Structured interviews are more likely to be fair than unstructured ones. When an interviewer is unprepared or overly focused on one aspect of the candidate’s background (such as where they went to school).

They’re more likely to overlook other important factors that would otherwise result in a good hire (like excellent communication skills).

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4. Avoid “Brainteaser” Questions

Avoid brainteaser questions. You may have heard that some companies like to ask “brainteaser” questions during interviews. These are questions that are designed to be difficult to answer and meant to test a candidate’s problem-solving ability.

Brainteasers aren’t predictive of job performance, however, so they can hurt candidates who don’t know the answer right away or don’t get it right away. 

If you’re asked a brainteaser question, just say something like: “I don’t have an answer off the top of my head, but I’m sure we’d find a way to solve it together!” and move on with your interview in a more productive direction.

5. Avoid Leading Questions And Unstructured Interviews

Leading questions are those that suggest a particular answer, such as “Do you think that our company is doing a good job of managing its employees’ health care plans?” instead of “What do you think about our company’s management of employees health care plans?” 

Leading questions are most often used on standardized tests, like the SAT or ACT, where you want to make sure students don’t accidentally get an answer wrong based on their knowledge of what the test-makers want them to say. 

But in real life and especially when it comes to hiring decisions leading questions are problematic because they can easily trick people into giving answers they didn’t mean to give at all.

Unstructured interviews lack any kind of structure or rules for asking questions; 

They tend not only toward interviewer bias but also toward creating an environment where candidates feel more pressure during their interviews than they should have been able to expect from a well-run interview process, especially if there aren’t enough interviewers present (or none at all).

6. Ask About Past Experiences, Not Personal Traits

Some interviewers will ask you questions ranging from the seemingly innocent (“What’s your greatest weakness?”) to the downright bizarre (asked one of my friends, “What’s your favorite food?”). 

The answer to these questions isn’t always obvious, and they can put you in an awkward position.

These types of questions are a great way for employers to learn more about you as a person, but it’s important that they’re appropriate for the job and don’t lead to bias. Instead, focus on asking about past experiences rather than personal traits: 

“Tell me about an experience when you worked on a project with someone who had different values than yours” or “When did you feel like your manager didn’t trust what you were doing?”.

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7. Avoid Asking For Generalizations, Predictions, Or Hypothetical Situations (E.G., “How Would You Handle A Situation Like This?”)

These types of questions can be biased toward candidates who are better at coming up with answers on the spot or who are more confident about their answers. 

Asking for specific examples from their past work experience is a much better way to find out how someone will perform in your organization.

Interviewers must avoid these questions because they’re often not able to provide an accurate picture of what it would be like if an employee worked with them on the job. 

And even if they could, you wouldn’t want them answering based on someone else’s experience. 

It’s more important that they answer based on their own experiences and qualifications as well as those of other people involved in similar roles within your company/organization/team etc.

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8. Ask The Same Question To All Candidates

If you’re interviewing a lot of people, it can be tempting to ask questions that are different for each one. But this is a big no-no. 

If it’s important enough to ask at all, it should be asked in the same way to all candidates and if you want feedback from your interviewers, then you need to make sure they’re comparing apples with apples.

If you do want to tweak questions for specific candidates or circumstances (e.g., “If I were an interviewer on this team and didn’t know much about computer science yet but wanted to learn more so I could build software better…”).

Get them pre-approved by HR or whoever will be conducting interviews before the first candidate walks through your door!

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These tips will help you standardize each conversation, so you can make sure the structure of your interviews is fair for everyone.

Further Reading

Explore more resources on reducing interviewer bias:

10 Ways to Reduce Interviewer Bias: Discover effective strategies to minimize bias during interviews and enhance the accuracy of your hiring process.

Understanding Interviewer Bias: Gain insights into the concept of interviewer bias and learn how to identify and address it in your recruitment efforts.

Top 8 Interviewer Biases and How to Avoid Them: Dive into the top biases that interviewers may unknowingly exhibit and find practical tips to mitigate their impact.


What is interviewer bias?

Interviewer bias refers to the tendency of interviewers to form subjective opinions about candidates based on non-job-related factors, impacting the fairness and accuracy of the hiring process.

How does interviewer bias affect hiring outcomes?

Interviewer bias can lead to the selection of candidates who may not be the best fit for the role, while potentially excluding well-qualified individuals who don’t align with the interviewer’s biases.

What are some common types of interviewer biases?

Common types of interviewer biases include confirmation bias (seeking information that confirms pre-existing beliefs), halo effect (generalizing positive traits from one area to another), and similarity bias (favoring candidates who are similar to the interviewer).

How can interviewer bias be minimized?

To minimize interviewer bias, structured interview formats, standardized evaluation criteria, blind evaluations, and diversity training can be implemented to promote fair and objective assessments.

What role does awareness play in reducing interviewer bias?

Awareness is key in recognizing and addressing interviewer bias. By educating interviewers about potential biases and providing tools to mitigate them, organizations can foster a more inclusive and equitable hiring process.