How to Avoid Bias and Create an Inclusive Hiring Process

by Tracy Marshall and Melanie Witman

Posted February 9, 2022

During the hiring process, we often naturally gravitate to candidates with similar backgrounds, experiences, and characteristics as ourselves. This unconscious bias can harm our ability to attract a diverse candidate pool, leading to a workplace that is homogeneous, inequitable, and lower-performing.

To ensure your hiring process is inclusive, effective, and bias-free, consider the following strategies:

Job Description

Create a job description that encourages potential candidates to ‘opt in’ instead of ‘opt out.’

  • Limit the required qualifications to the true “must haves.” A lengthy and specific list of requirements can discourage candidates from applying, even if they meet the vast majority of them and/or have significant transferable experience and skills.
  • For more advice on crafting an inclusive job description, check out this blog: “5 Tips for Writing Inclusive Job Descriptions.”
Interview process

Determine the interview and review process ahead of time – and stick to it.

  • Before interviews begin, consider creating a worksheet that identifies the main criteria you will use to assess all candidates. This will help ensure a bias-free review and places less emphasis on each candidate’s likeability.
  • All candidates should experience the same interview process, in terms of the number of rounds, who they speak with, and any assessments/projects you assign.

Folder of resumes

Be intentional about the candidate information you review and place value on.

  • Recently, one of our clients chose to have their Head of HR remove names, locations, degrees, and any other gender- or race-identifying information from the applications before reviewing them. Doing so allowed them to reduce the possibility of bias in their review, as well as focus on the aspects of the application that truly impacted the candidate’s suitability for the role.
  • Even if you don’t choose to employ this fully ‘blind’ technique, you can still be mindful about the aspects of a resume that you consider when assessing a candidate. More and more, organizations are placing less of an emphasis on candidates having specific degrees or attending universities of a certain perceived prestige, as they recognize the candidate’s skill and potential as being of greater importance.


Seek candidates who will add to your culture and team, not fit it.

  • Hiring for culture fit can prohibit diversity, stunt an organization’s growth, and prioritize one-on-one connection and chemistry to a detriment. Instead, focus on culture add – the ways in which a candidate can bring a new perspective and/or skills to an organization, which will in turn diversify and improve the culture. Find tips on how to seek and assess culture add in our article, “Why Hiring for Culture Fit Weakens Your Organization – And What to Look for Instead.”
  • Relatedly, do not limit your search to candidates with x years of direct experience. By considering candidates who possess the strengths and potential to succeed in the role, you will greatly increase your chances of having an inclusive hiring process and attracting a diverse pool. Furthermore, candidates with transferable skills and experiences will bring new (and potentially improved!) approaches to your work.


Set diversity goals and regularly assess your progress against them.

  • Begin by identifying which skills, experiences, and perspectives are underrepresented at your organization, and then set specific, measurable goals for increasing that representation within your candidate pools. This will keep you on target and committed to a great outcome and help guide your outreach and promotional efforts for new positions.  
  • Asking candidates to complete an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) self-identification form can be a great way to collect data around the demographics of your pool – and will be a helpful tool in assessing your progress towards your diversity goals. Just be sure that candidates can submit the form completely anonymously and that the information is processed separately from the rest of their application.

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Development Guild DDI recognizes that diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences are required for the greatest impact, and we are committed to supporting and strengthening DEI industry-wide—through our work as nonprofit consultants—and internally as a firm. Learn more.


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