Uncovering Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and Interviewing

by Jul 25, 2022

Based on our episode, Uncovering Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and Interviewing with Dr. Tana M Session


Most of the time credibility is being questioned in a team meeting, leading a project, and our recommendations having to prove above and beyond our areas of expertise. Regardless of how much education, experience, certifications you may have and oftentimes that’s a strategy that people of color will actually put into place to help them be successful and remove some of those barriers if they will go and get the extra certification and all the stuff. There are so many barriers for them in terms of success or opportunities.



  • Your power, your truth, your healing, your worth and ultimately your destiny are the pillars to it.

Start learning how to own your power. Taking your power back, you have to forgive yourself for the decisions or choices that you made along the way that’s been stumbling blocks to you personally and professionally.

  • Learn how to forgive others. 

That’s some space that you don’t want to take with you as you’re looking to grow and develop and become successful. Sometimes, we have to forgive people who may never ask for an apology.

  • You have to understand that you are worthy of success. 

Success looks different for every single person and so as a result of that not comparing yourself to others. Sometimes we’ll get stuck in imposter syndrome. When that may not be your destiny, that may not be your purpose.

Things that happened in the past were for a reason and they’ve gotten you to where you’re at. If you’ve made some bad decisions or made a wrong turn, it wasn’t a wrong turn. It was just it’s gonna get you where you’re at.


Understanding Unconscious Bias 

Every single one of us is guilty of unconscious bias. You’re not a bad person if you do. Everyone has unconscious bias just the way our brain is made, it works like a computer. It’s these spontaneous judgments that we make about people, places or situations that we may or may not be familiar with. Our brain looks for these little mental shortcuts and are oftentimes tied to an attitude or a stereotype that we may have. 

We get to talk to people, spend time with them, get to know them as a person, personally and professionally. Then, all of a sudden those biases start to kind of fade away but until we build that relationship, relational and social capital, we lean on bias to help us make those decisions. 


Avoiding Unconscious Bias

  • Self-awareness is key 

Understanding and accepting more importantly that we all have a bias and it could be a good thing or a bad thing. It just really depends on the situation. So there’s certain biases that are predominant in recruiting. You have like the horn effect like a similarity you have these different types of biases that will play into decision making. 

  • Understanding when those biases come in 

Having others that can help you check your bias. Understanding is important to get the perspective of others, hold people accountable and have checks and balances in place to see when bias is kicking in and then what is that bias, is it valid or is it a fallacy?

  • Diversity means something different for every organization

Diversity may mean physical identity, people of color, sexual orientation, and race. Diversity is so wide and deep. Understand what diversity means for you because this is a word we’ve been using pretty heavily.

  • Having honest conversations 

It’s challenging. As well, how comfortable are you being uncomfortable because that’s where the work is going to start. Having these courageous conversations about it and then also identifying what steps are you going to take to bring in not just diverse talent but ensure that they feel included and they belong. Make sure that employees feel comfortable, included and psychologically safe through:

  • Having inclusive language 
  • Building relationships
  • Friendly interaction
  • Effective communication

We’re complex creatures as humans. We want to learn about others’ experiences and show up as allies for them and opportunities where we have power, privilege, and influence of change to do so.


Inclusion or diversity first?

You can do them all in parallel. So, you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Inclusion says you’re working on your culture and you’re ensuring that any policies practices, systems infrastructure, talent management, talent performance, recruiting, onboarding, exiting and all of these things are being viewed through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging that should be happening regardless if you’re recruiting diverse talents.

Diversity can happen if you’re being intentional about it. It’s going to take a little longer because that means you’re going to recruit from different areas. You’re going to have to build relationships with different associations or individuals even to encourage them to come through your funnel. Then, ultimately hire them and bring them onboard. When they get there, they should feel the work is being done. That should be part of their lived experience. If it’s not, then you’re missing the mark. 

So you can say, diversity and inclusion or inclusion and diversity. Whichever way you want, but the work should all be happening in tandem.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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