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Interview Guide

Building more inclusive teams starts with our hiring processes.

THE BAsics

Avoiding Bias

Interview bias occurs when the interviewer judges a candidate not only on their skills but on unspoken (and sometimes even unconscious) criteria that makes the interview less objective.

This hurts our efforts in creating more diversity within our agency.

Here are some examples of bias in the interview process:

Stereotyping Bias

Forming an opinion of someone based on their gender, religion, race, appearance or any other type of characteristic (e.g., She will be too emotional.)

First-Impression bias

Making judgements based on your first impression (e.g., how they’re dressed)

Contrast Effect

When someone interviews after a relatively weaker candidate, they may appear more qualified than they actually are. This can happen when we have back-to-back interviews without a moment to reset or refresh. If we’re not careful, we could end up preferring someone who exudes more confidence than someone who was perhaps more timid but was much more qualified. 

Negative-emphasis bias

When you get a small amount of negative information and use it as the basis of the entire hiring decision. We tend to weigh negative information heavier than positive information. (e.g., If they come from that agency, they must not be all that great.)

Halo and Horn Effects

The Halo Effect is when you let one positive fact about the candidate overshadow everything else they say or do. 

The Horn Effect is the opposite—when one negative fact influences everything else.

“Similar to me” Effect

Thinking highly of someone who’s similar to you (e.g., hiring friends or friends of friends)


We want all our candidates to leave the interview feeling positive about GSD&M. As such, we should be aware of actions and questions that may negatively impact the conversation.

  • Avoid any questions and references related to a candidate’s race, sex, age, religion, creed, national origin, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or apparent or perceived mental or physical disabilities.
  • Don’t be late or reschedule at the last minute. Be respectful of the candidates’ time.
  • Don’t dominate the conversation.
  • Don’t recommend next steps. Let them discuss with the recruiter.
  • Don’t talk poorly about anyone in or outside of the agency.

It’s human to have bias. But luckily, we can all do better when we know better.

The interview

First impressions matter, and they go both ways

Preparation can help you avoid bias and make the interview experience great for all of our candidates.

Be Prepared.
  • Do your homework. Review the candidates’ résumés, LinkedIn profiles and/or portfolios before your meeting.
  • Consider what skills are most critical for the role, and identify related questions that will help to uncover those abilities.
  • Ask the same questions of each candidate. This is critical in ensuring that you are able to make a fair comparison when providing feedback.
  • Be on time and present. If you are running late for any reason, send a quick note to the candidate or the recruiter.
  • Start with a warm greeting and give the candidate a quick overview of your role at GSD&M, then reiterate some of the basics of the role.
  • Keep questions open-ended and allow time for the candidate to form a response.
  • Do more listening than talking.
  • Take notes on the candidates’ responses that you can refer back to during the evaluation phase.
  • Allow time for the candidate to ask you a question or two.
  • Thank them for their time and offer up your contact information for any follow-ups. Do not discuss any next steps, refer them to the recruiting team for that information.

The evaluation

after the interview, your feedback is critical in helping us make good hiring decisions

The best feedback is often specific, relevant and insightful. Unhelpful feedback is vague, generalized and assumptive.

Examples of helpful feedback
  • They have/don’t have a lot of digital experience or an eye for detail (if critical to the role).
  • Their energy and drive would make them a great fit for our fast-paced retail account.
  • They were a bit reserved, and I worry about their ability to confidently lead day-to-day communication with our clients.
  • They don’t have the same work history as some of the others, but they have a lot of potential given their self-starting nature and familiarity with the client’s brand.
Examples of Unhelpful Feedback
  • He’s just not a good fit for GSD&M.
  • I love her!
  • I have a bad gut feeling about them.
  • I’m concerned she won’t work as hard as the rest of the team because she told me she’s a single mom.

Quick Feedback

Share feedback with the recruiter as quickly as possible while it’s top of mind.


Allow other interviewers to form their own perspectives. Don’t share your feedback on the candidate with them until after they’ve met.

Keep Your notes handy

Retain your notes until a final decision has been made on the role, especially if there’s a gap between interviews. You may need to refer back to these to provide clarification of feedback.


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