How can you reduce bias when hiring?
In your efforts to improve your hiring decisions, we present you with 6 steps that can facilitate you on that objective.
1. Create bias awareness
The first step to improving your potential biased decisions is acknowledging that you are prone to making unconscious error-prone decisions. It is effortless for external factors to cloud our judgment. Recognizing that you or your hiring team are susceptible to bias is the first step to fixing it. Once you know that, it is essential for you to educate yourself on what types of bias there are. It could be highly relevant to specifically familiarize yourself or your hiring staff with the most common interview bias. Did you find one candidate particularly likable because you saw remarkable similarities with yourself? Or was it because you had that “gut” feeling that they will be an excellent addition to the company without putting your finger on concrete reasonings? When you know the characteristics of different biases, you can start seeing the red flags.
2. Have diversity as a business goal
At the top of your most bias-free hiring decisions lay diversity and inclusion. By incorporating diversity programs, you are actively fighting against discrimination and prejudices caused by bias. And at the forefront of those inclusion programs are great benefits for the company – innovation, improved team decision-making, reduced cost, better company reputation, etc.
That being said, knowing that diversity is a plus for your company is not enough if you want to experience its positives. When we are preoccupied with the emerging daily tasks, it is seamless to lose track of your diversity ambitions. Therefore, it is essential to set it as a goal, put down desired (and achievable) metrics, and measure the progress. How could that be implemented in a recruitment scenario? After each hiring cycle, one example is to check with the metrics if your hiring decisions brought you closer to your diversity objectives. Also, do not get discouraged – improving your diversity efforts takes time. With 70% of its staff being males, even Google experiences significant challenges with diversity.
3. Re-write job descriptions
Another area where you or your team could potentially be biased is before even screening candidates has taken place. When job postings are written, the wording you chose can discriminate against candidates or subconsciously send them a hidden message that you are looking for a specific employee stereotype. For instance, when using masculine words such as “competitive” and “driven,” the female candidates interpret it as unwelcoming for them or imagine how they would not fit the work environment. On the contrary, words like “cooperative” or “collaborative” have been shown to attract more female applications.
Here are examples of neutral words you could use instead:
- Strong – able, sound, excellent, solid
- Driven – passionate, inspired, energized, motivated
- Competitive – fair, results-oriented, comparative, enthusiastic
4. Do a blind resume reviewing
Here, you become “blind” not to all criteria but the demographics on the CV. Demographics such as age, gender, culture, and ethnicity are beyond the applicant’s control, and they should not be determinants for getting hired or not. Study shows that white–sounding names get invited more to interviews or that if there is one woman in the selection process, she has 0% to be hired. We are that prone to making false judgment calls.
What you strive for, as a recruiter, is to find the best candidate from the talent pool who has the skillset to do the job well. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are of great help for the hiring teams to stay “blind” and skill-focused.
5. Test for skills
Of course, it is a great way to see if what a candidate says they can do is test it similar to the job tasks. A scenario where there are fewer candidates left after the initial screening is an excellent way to compare candidates A, B, and C on their skillset. This is one way of staying objective and providing justifications for your hiring decisions.
6. Bring another “pair of eyes”
Whenever you doubt whether you are objective, bringing a third party is a good way to get a different perspective. With the advances of technologies, nowadays, a third party no longer only means a person. In fact, software such as ATS is neutral to demographics and can uncover hidden gems that you might have missed otherwise. Recruitment software makes the process more standardized and independent for recruiters and helps them stay objective by benchmarking to the job.
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