Hiring Foreign Nationals? How to Avoid Bias in Hiring Decisions

Last Updated on February 23, 2023


Today’s human resources leaders face unprecedented recruiting challenges. From increasing wage pressures to the skills gap, talent acquisition teams find themselves tasked with finding exceptional candidates who aren’t readily available in the domestic labor pool. As a result, many companies are hiring foreign nationals to help bridge the skills gap because the global labor pool offers a diverse mix of candidates with a variety of skills. However, some recruiters might unintentionally, or intentionally, be making biased hiring decisions — and these are problematic. 

If these biases are left unchecked, they can negatively shape a company’s culture and reputation. If you’re hiring foreign nationals, the following tips will help to avoid bias in hiring decisions and help to ensure a diverse, healthy work environment.

1. Standardize Recruiting Process

According to Harvard Business Review, unstructured interviews have been rated one of the worst indicators of on-the-job performance from interviewees. These unstructured interviews lack defined questions meant to highlight an applicant’s expertise and relevant experience. 

As such, the interview process should rely on structured interviews to help avoid bias. This means managers interviewing every candidate for an open position will be asked the same set of questions. Examples of structured questions include: 

  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • What is your biggest professional experience? 
  • Why should we hire you?

2. Conduct a Work Test

Structured interview questions are desirable for the first round, but as a candidate advances, companies may want to think about him or her take part in sample work tests and compare tests between the final candidates. 

HR should design these tests to mimic tasks the position would entail. From the hiring perspective, sample tests essentially force managers to consider the quality of work, not other factors, such as gender, age or race.  

3. Strive to Meet Diversity Goals or Strategies

To shine a brighter spotlight on biased hiring decisions, companies may wish to tackle the issue head-on by setting diversity goals. 

Diversity goals shouldn’t just be limited to culture and race. Diversity in the workplace also means hiring foreign nationals that come from different countries and have different socio-economic and education levels. 

Not only is diversity important for creating a desirable workplace, but companies that emphasize gender, racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to achieve financial returns about their national industry medians, according to a study from McKinsey & Company. 

As companies continue to grow, companies find that bridging the talent gap increasingly relies on hiring foreign nationals. But to avoid bias in hiring decisions, companies would benefit from emphasizing diversity and modifying their recruiting and interview process. 

Hiring a foreign national employee? Read Envoy’s Essential Sourcing & Screening Guide.