How to run a fair interview process

Every business wants to hire the best candidates on the market. However, a recruitment process that isn’t attracting a wide breadth of candidates or giving all interviewees a fair opportunity to present themselves properly could hinder your recruitment efforts and reflect poorly on your employer brand.

In this post, we provide advice on how to run a fair recruitment process, finding the candidate with the right skill set, experience and the best cultural fit.

Prepare well

Preparation involves taking the time to identify the need for a new hire. What is the role and responsibilities in the position? And what are the skills, experience and competencies of the ideal candidate to perform well, and what is a ‘nice to have’ that could potentially exclude applicants?

To make sure you hire someone that truly fits the role, include the hiring manager and team members who will be working alongside the person in this role, do they have any requirements you have missed?

Refrain from making quick judgements

Whether conscious or unconscious, bias can quickly creep in when assessing candidates from afar or when forming a first impression.

It takes determination and personal awareness to consciously choose to take an unbiased approach to each candidate and allow yourself time to get to know them and understand their experience, values and vision before making a more informed assessment.

This applies to making snap decisions or leading with preconceived ideas based on the individual’s gender, appearance, race, or socio-economic group.

Check recruitment advertising

You must conduct an objective review of all of the recruitment advertising to make sure that material doesn’t contain images or descriptions that could alienate candidates.

Research from language tool Textio has found that the use of gender-associated words influenced the gender of the person that was hired. For instance, words like, ‘analyse’ and ‘determine’ are perceived to be male orientated, while ‘collaborate’ and ‘support’ are considered female.

To encourage a variety of candidates to apply, all recruitment advertising needs to use gender-neutral roles, language and the use of superlatives such as ‘expert’ and ‘world-class’.

When working with a recruitment agency, you need to ensure that they understand your drive to create an equal and fair recruitment process and should avoid this language when communicating with candidates.

Introduce a values-based process

An excellent way to remove discrimination from the recruitment process is to adopt a values-based approach when hiring.

To do so, your business will need to have a set of core values and be able to define them. By hiring candidates that present aligned values and can provide examples of when they have demonstrated these, you remove discrimination.

This is because you are making a decision based on cultural fit, not education, qualifications, or even experience, and considering those who may not have had the same educational opportunities as others.

When using an agency, you will need to communicate these values in full, to ensure that they can apply them to the early stages of the recruitment process, shortlisting the right candidates.

Be consistent and use standardised questions

Consistency is a crucial factor when keeping the recruitment process fair.

One way you can demonstrate consistency is by asking standardised questions to each candidate that you interview, regardless of (perceived) age, gender, or race. By asking the same questions to candidates, you are providing them with an equal opportunity to demonstrate their ability, skills, values and characteristics.

It also means that you are not exhibiting any discrimination or bias, for instance, posing a question to a young female candidate about their plans for starting a family, yet not posing this to a male candidate of the same age.

Would you like to learn more about conducting a great interview? Take a look at our Guide to Interview Techniques for Employers.

Train hiring managers

To ensure the fairness of your recruitment process, provide training for those involved with training in employment law, unconscious bias, interview skills, diversity and equality opportunities.

For more information, please take a look at our Advice for Hiring Managers page.

Ask for feedback

The only way that you can understand candidate experience during the recruitment process is to ask interviewees.

By seeking feedback as part of your company hiring process, you can ask candidates how they felt at each stage. Did they think it offers a fair opportunity to each applicant and if any unfairness or discrimination was experienced or observed?

You can do this by setting up a survey to be completed and following up with a phone call or email afterwards to uncover more detail if necessary.

This feedback can be used to hone the process, as well as identify further training requirements for hiring managers.

We hope this article has proved you with practical guidance when it comes to removing bias and running a fair recruitment process. If you would like help from our experienced recruitment team or have any questions about identifying the right candidates in such a saturated market, we would be happy to help. Contact a member of the Anne Corder team here.


About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder


Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.