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3 steps to eliminate unconscious bias in radiology recruitment and hiring

As radiology practices work to build diverse teams, leaders must ensure they’re taking potential steps to mitigate unconscious bias in their hiring decisions, experts charged recently in JACR.

Examples of this phenomenon could include failing to target enough candidates from diverse backgrounds or asking questions during the interview that favor a certain type of individual. Imaging experts believe the specialty must free itself from preconceived notions to help get the most out of talent acquisition.

“Unconscious bias represents prescribing preferences to a subject outside of one’s awareness and can be at least partially attributed to human nature. Therefore, we must be aware of our unconscious biases to overcome them and enable improved fairness in our hiring practices,” Nikita Consul, MD, with Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Radiology in Houston, and co-authors wrote April 29. “In the private practice environment of radiology, especially in smaller firms, in which a dysfunctional team can lead to a dysfunctional practice overall, it is especially essential to find the best candidates for the team,” they added.

To start creating a healthier recruitment and hiring process, Consul and co-authors from Mount Sinai and the University of Massachusetts offered three steps:

1. Increase the numbers: A good place to get started is by actively increasing the number of candidates, broadening the search to include individuals from varying ethnic backgrounds, ages, and career stages, etc. Consul et al. recommend appointing advocates to oversee the candidate pool’s composition, building a search committee dedicated to their goals, and using clearly defined criteria to analyze contenders.

2. Holistic approach: Go beyond grades and standardized test scores to look at the whole picture of each applicant. The authors suggested using search filters with “cautionary discretion,” since they often overlook traits such as work ethic and determination. They also recommend excluding photos to prevent bias based on appearance and paying attention to documents that paint a fuller picture of individuals, such as letters of recommendation or cover letters.

3. Structured interviewing: This step of hiring should be part of a whole, not a primary vehicle to discover candidate “fit,” the authors wrote. Consul and colleagues urged practices to train all interviewers on reducing bias, and establish clearly defined, performance-based criteria for assessment. Utilizing behavioral, rather than hypothetical, interview questions may also help mitigate bias.

Read more of their advice in the Journal of the American College of Radiology here.

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