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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Does an unbiased interview exist? YES!

While most of my blogs are about academic articles and their application to Human Resources, this was a topic that I had to write about. In a conversation with some friends, some great points came up and I thought,"This would be a perfect topic for my blog!" I hope you enjoy.

On August 19th, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released an amendment to Executive Order 11246. This amendment extends protection of discrimination based on sex to include gender identity and those who identify as transgender. While it only applies to Federal contractors, this is a huge accomplishment for those individuals who identify as transgender because it means they have the ability to live their lives as they see fit. I imagine its only a matter of time until this protection extends to all employers in the United States. 

When I was discussing this with some friends, we spoke about how some people are unable to look past their personal bias when it comes to physical image. In reality, one's personal looks shouldn't matter as long as they perform the job effectively (with the exception of personal hygiene). However, can you truly enforce interviewers to objectively evaluate interviews? In an ideal world, I would say yes but some people are unable to look past their biases. Some ways to overcome these subjective opinions are by using the following methods:
  • Structured interviews
  • Interview questions based on job requirements
  • Score based interviews
  • Behavioral anchors
  • Multiple interviewers
  • Training for managers on effective interviews and the expectations of an interview.
These common practices can be effective in reducing the likelihood of adverse impact. However, it is not fool-proof. Want a fool proof interview practice? Well, your answer lies in the classical music industry.

Allison Gessner, Oboist
My good friend, Allison Gessner, is an amazing oboist. She tells me all about her auditions and what they entail. Whenever she goes to an audition, she has no face-to-face contact with the evaluators. Instead, she is placed behind a curtain so they focus on her musical skills (which are amazing, I might add). 

When my friends and I were talking about objective interviews, I thought of Alli's audition stories. Why aren't companies using this when interviewing candidates? If we interview without seeing them, can we avoid any personal bias (which would be especially helpful when trying to accommodate gender identity)? We achieve this partially by conducting phone interviews, but do we lose that objectivity when people are brought on site for a face-to-face interview?

We often state that face-to-face interviews are crucial for determining if someone fits an organization's culture. However, does blind interviews inhibit determining organizational fit? I don't have the answer but its something to consider. 

I realize that this article could be controversial but my objective is raise some questions to ensure that employers avoid adverse impact during an interview. All I can say is that I am a huge supporter of organizational diversity and I am excited to see this protection added for gender identity.

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