Removing Unconscious Bias from the Job Interview

By Dee Kuhn, Senior Editor

Since the beginning of 2020, Hatcher has grown to a team of 50 people, increasing our staff by just over 30%. Now with a bigger team and the rebranding of our mission, vision, and values, we’ve become even more intentional with the work we take on and in hiring the caliber of talent to deliver that work. This includes elevating our candidate application process to mirror our firm-wide culture and removing any unconscious bias from our interview protocol.  

Unconscious bias is a generalization we form without realizing it. Our brains are naturally wired to offer a fast, automatic, and impulsive response, often based on how we’ve experienced the world and driven by our emotions. This kind of bias often manifests itself in involuntary assumptions about people we see or meet, places we visit, or situations we find ourselves in, without any prior interaction.  

At Hatcher, we understand the negative impact unconscious bias can have on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. If allowed, it can affect employee compensation, recruitment, hiring, and decision making, not to mention the loss of a prospective, talented employee. 

We recognize that unconscious bias is limiting. It can limit our ability to make fair decisions, our openness and actions toward others, our inclusion of others, and our understanding of job candidates. That’s why our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce begins with the hiring process.  

Here, no two hires are alike — and no two interviews are alike. We’ve found going old school to be one of the best ways to overcome interview unconscious bias. Arranging an initial phone interview to meet with a candidate without visual engagement allows us to focus on the candidate and their contributions before meeting them virtually or in person. This way, we’ve removed one of the first opportunities for unconscious bias.  

Our interview process assesses a candidate’s technical abilities, cultural awareness, and ability to contribute to Hatcher’s purpose. We invite all candidates to share their best selves before getting into the structured interview, which follows a consistent format designed to rate candidates on the same criteria. Our structured interview questions walk us through a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses while identifying how they strategize, perform under pressure, correct mistakes, and interact with colleagues. Our goal is to understand how someone will blend easily within our culture while bringing a unique perspective.  

It’s not only about culture, it’s about the ability to be willing to learn and grow the way our community is designed. We value transparency, honesty, curiosity, collaboration, and motivation. At the end of the day, it’s not about where you were raised or went to school, it’s if you’re able to get the job done. We appreciate and celebrate differences without giving unconscious bias a spotlight in the interview process. 

Through our mission, vision, and values, we continue to refine and strengthen our diversity and inclusion practices, enacting policies and programs to advance equity for our job candidates, people, partners, and clients.

Hatcher continues to revisit DEI training, recently holding an Understanding the Impact of Unconscious Bias on Diversity and Inclusion workshop with all staff.