5 Ways You Can Limit Unconscious Bias In The Hiring Process

A successful interview after the company limited bias in the hiring process

Could you be unintentionally rejecting the right talent for your business because of unconscious bias in your hiring process?

According to the CIPD, 78% of leaders understand the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workplace, with many trying to find ways to make their recruitment process inclusive.

In my 10+ years of experience working in permanent IT recruitment, I have helped many businesses to improve their hiring processes to include inclusive recruitment practices. Here are my top tips for limiting bias in the hiring process.

Engage with suppliers who are committed to mitigating bias in the hiring process

If you choose to outsource your recruitment process, but do not check that your supplier is also equally committed to inclusive practices, then your efforts are likely to be for naught.

As your supplier will often be the one pre-screening candidates and making the shortlisting decisions, they need to be both aware of unconscious bias and take steps to limit it in the recruitment process. A recruiter is the first point of contact for many candidates, so if you want to reduce bias in the hiring process, start there. Everyone in the process needs to be on the same page with your strategy and commitment to D&I.

Finding a recruitment agency that already has processes in place to remove unconscious bias, like VIQU, is an easy way to ensure the process is inclusive. Whether you choose to use a recruitment agency or not, below I go into further detail regarding the kind of steps that can be taken to remove bias from the hiring process.

Write the job advert to appeal to the right professional, not a specific person

When drafting job adverts, many individuals accidentally use language that can unintentionally exclude people.

This is often through using gendered language. In a study conducted by Applied, adverts that used masculine-coded words saw a reduction of women applying for the role by up to 10%. Ensuring that your advert is as gender-neutral as possible is a great way to attract diverse candidates.

At VIQU, we pass job adverts through a gender decoder tool. This tool informs us if the advert has too many masculine or feminine coded words which we can try to change to something more neutral. Job adverts are normally the first thing a candidate sees. The last thing you want is to be limiting suitable candidates due to gendered language.

Furthermore, the advert should focus on responsibilities and skills preferable for the candidate rather than specifying the exact number of years of experience required. This way, candidates who have the skills aren’t put off by how many years of experience they have, but rather if they can do the job well.

Use a blind hiring process

Bias in the hiring process often starts from any perceptions or prejudices formed from information on a candidate’s CV. To give you an insight as to what this means when a recruitment company uses a blind hiring process, here are some of our actions:

  • We remove the name from the CV before we shortlist the candidate
  • We take out dates, and education to remove chances of class bias or predjudice towards a career gap
  • We don’t pass on CVs to hiring managers, just essential information necessary for the interview
  • Our screening questions are consistent and set to focus on competencies, using scenario-based queries

Unconscious bias around class, race, age and gender can rear its head when choosing which candidates go through to interview. That’s why ensuring that CVs are anonymous and contain only essential information are key inclusive recruitment practices to give the best candidates the chance of being interviewed and hired.

Include personality and skills assessments

Skills assessments are always a fantastic opportunity to thoroughly judge if a candidate is suitable for the role. Even if you don’t undergo a blind hiring process, assessing skills through assessments is an excellent way of finding out which candidates are overexaggerating their skills in their CVs and those who would be a good fit.

Personality assessments whereby candidates answer how they would react in certain situations are also a great opportunity to find out how individuals would fit into your company. Gauging how a candidate is likely to react in situations is not always easy to ascertain especially in interviews. For instance, if the role involves working with many stakeholders, the individual needs to be confident in their communication skills.

Have consistencies throughout the interviews

My top tips for limiting bias in the hiring process, in particular during interviews are:

  • Ensure there is at least one person in common during all interviews, to avoid one interviewer being stricter than another.
  • Have a set of pre-agreed questions to be asked to everyone.
  • Use a score card with an agreed upon metric to mark candidates on ability, rather than judging interviews based on how well you got on with the candidate.
  • Make sure that accessibility isn’t a barrier to candidates who may have disabilities. For instance, don’t host the interviews on the top floor of your building if the lift often stops working.
  • Consider sending questions to candidates who are neurodivergent ahead of time. In particular, for candidates who have Autism or ADHD, being asked questions on the spot can pose major difficulties. Allow them to prepare answers to at least some of the questions in advance to give you a better understanding of their suitability.
  • Ensure that any individuals involved in the hiring process, interview or otherwise, are aware of unconscious bias and your commitment to an inclusive process.

It’s very easy to be attracted to candidates who have similar likes and dislikes to yourself, but that won’t find you the best candidate and the right option for your company. By prioritising candidates who have the right skills for your job role will get you the right employee.

By ensuring that your recruitment processes are as free as possible from bias and feature inclusive practices, you are likely to find that your workplace will naturally become more diverse.

If you want any support in reducing bias in the hiring process of your company, please give us a call and we can support you.

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