Are you tackling some of the most common potential workplace and recruiting bias situations the right way?

In July, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new discrimination prevention guidelines, which the New York Times reported were the first pregnancy-related principles released since 1983.

The guidelines identified pregnancy-based discrimination as a form of sex discrimination and banned employers from firing, refusing to hire, demoting or otherwise penalizing employees for being pregnant — or taking action if a related medical condition was involved, such as gestational diabetes, back pain or complications requiring bed rest.

While pregnancy-related discrimination may seem like an obvious thing to avoid in the modern workplace, the changes, according to the New York Times, came about due to an increase in pregnancy discrimination filings in the past decade.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, ethics issues can often come into play specifically during the recruiting process.

There are, of course, some obvious scenarios to avoid: For instance, most employers wouldn’t even think about making a questioning or derogatory comment about a job candidate’s religion.

But how many know that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines religion, as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission puts it, “very broadly,” including organized religions; new, uncommon and informal religions — and individual beliefs that may or may not be associated with a religion?

In some cases, HR professionals can get into hot water by asking questions that are too personal during an interview: about religion, or a personal belief, or a number of other topics.

In other scenarios, even the most well-intentioned hiring managers can stumble into an ethical gray area by unintentionally assessing candidates in potentially biased ways.

The following tips can help you eliminate bias from your organization’s interviewing process.

Make sure the position is accurately depicted:

A job description should serve as a basis for the job listing you’ll eventually place, according to INC magazine, which says it’ll also give new employees a roadmap of your expectations. INC suggests potentially making a list of all associated job duties before identifying a job title for an open position to accurately determine what skills and commitments candidates will need.

Avoid honing in on one personality trait: Indiana University Human Resources lists several bias-based interview warning signs to watch out for on its website, including making a snap judgment about someone based on a clothing- or accent-based first impression.

Don’t assess a candidate too early in the interview: According to, the majority of hiring errors occur in the first 30 minutes of an interview. The job listing website recommends gauging your impression a second time roughly a half-hour into the interview, which it says may make you realize about a third of the potential employees you speak with are better candidates than you initially perceived — and another third aren’t.

Let more than one person decide: Asking all candidates the same set of questions can help keep each interview — and the decision making process — fair. To further eliminate emotional decisions and bias, HRNewsDaily suggests using a two-or-more employee hiring team and a fact-based grading system.


You may also be interested in these related articles:

Inclusion and the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

Addressing Unconscious Bias