11 April 2016
Avoiding unconscious bias in recruitment

A generation ago saw obvious discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or disability, but not today. However subtle aspects still persist with socio-economic background often playing an unconscious bias in the hiring process. Life experiences – whether positive, negative or neutral – heavily influence how we view and evaluate others. Our actions are directly informed by these experiences, which can lead to un-objective and unconsciously biased decision-making.

We all know that first impressions count. Interviewers form opinions about candidates within the first few minutes of meeting them leading to bias in decision-making.  Its human nature to connect with a similar personality to yours, but by adapting this during the hiring process can lead to a company filled with the same stereo types and traits of the Hiring Manager. There is always the question about ‘company fit’, but this cannot be used as a reason to discount someone for the job role. Interventions in the recruitment and selection of individuals will support managers in building diverse teams that will ultimately perform better overall than homogenous groups.

To expand your talent pool, consider the language that is included within the job description. Does it include aggressive qualities, such as: “Action-oriented,” “results-driven,” “people-person”? Try to change these to “Ability to take initiative and produce results,” “ability to collaborate effectively with a talented team” to see the difference in the candidates you attract. The first requirements describe the person whereas the second describes what it takes to do the job. By focusing on the specific job role can help you to move away from the unconscious bias.

Here are 3 simple tips on becoming an employer of choice:

  1. Review your Person Specifications: As we said before, ensure that your Personal Attributes and Job Description is free from bias – remove all unnecessary requirements that will filter the candidate you attract.
  2. Consider your recruitment images: If you want to attract applicants from a wide range of backgrounds include images and text that will appeal to a broad range of potential candidates. Research has shown that minority groups respond to adverts that reflect their social identity.
  3. Remove bias within selection tests: Ensure that the types of case studies you use as part of any selection tests do not favour any particular group. Similarly, ensure that you use psychometric tests that are free from bias.

To remind yourself to maintain neutral, you can use tools like Textio. It allows you to adjust your tone and word usage to make sure that the job descriptions are not appealing to a particular group of candidates. Volumes of research over the past few decades have established that diverse teams are more creative and perform better in problem-solving than homogeneous teams so be sure that your company fits this description in order to be as successful as it can be.

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