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3 strategies for eliminating bias and chance from the interview process

Bad hires are expensive, disruptive, and demoralizing. Replacing one costs roughly 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Up to 80% of turnover is rooted in bad hires, the Harvard Business Review reports. Yet organizations often apply more rigor to evaluating new software purchases or marketing campaigns than to honing the way they select their future workforce. 

That weakness is most pronounced in companies’ approaches to interviews. Interviews are the forum in which Brandon Hall Groups become human: a team’s best opportunity to learn who a candidate is, what she values, and how she approaches problems and makes decisions. More than two-thirds of companies identified poor interview processes as the culprit behind bad hires, according to the research firm Brandon Hall Group. 

And, at the same time weak interviews let bad candidates through, they can also keep good ones—including those who would contribute to a more diverse workforce—from progressing. Yet these critical exchanges typically unfold in private, with scant transparency or documentation.

This conclusion—that interviews are hiring’s Achilles heel—came to us independently from our observations. Ben learned this while helping scale a fast-growing startup, for Teddy, it was working with global talent teams at LinkedIn. After leaving those jobs, we spent dozens of hours speaking with talent leaders at companies of all sizes. Their experiences bore out our hypothesis. One HR executive at a corporation with a workforce of more than 10,000 didn’t even know what questions employees asked during interviews. Many raised concerns about quality, bias creeping into the process, and how interviewers were representing their companies to candidates. Everyone felt that interviews were at the same time critical and a black box. Last year we founded our company BrightHire, to address these issues.

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