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There is a lot of discussion surrounding bias in hiring and recruitment. Some believe that bias is an inherent part of the process of hiring new team members, while others argue that it is dangerous and can be mitigated through greater awareness and understanding. So, what is bias in hiring, and how can you overcome it as a team?
Bias in hiring refers to the tendency of employers to favor certain candidates over others. This can be based on a number of factors, including race, gender, ethnicity, and even personal connections. The problem with bias is that it can lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace, and can ultimately hinder an organization's ability to attract and retain top talent.
What about implicit vs unconscious bias? The two are the same: the tendency to make judgments or assumptions about a person based on your impressions rather than on facts. We’ve seen this example on a large scale when voters make assumptions that a candidate is uneducated because of their name, race, accent, or some other observable factor when the facts are right there indicating that they are highly educated with many years of qualifying experience. Implicit bias is dangerous behavior and it’s important to make a conscious effort to avoid it.
As a hiring manager, you’ve heard a lot about implicit bias in the workplace and are doing all you can to combat it, but you’re still only human. It can be incredibly difficult to ensure that your team is hiring people based on their skills and qualifications and not on some personal bias in the hiring process. Of course, while the team’s feelings about a person have some value, it is more important that all of the collected information about the ideal candidate is just as glowing as their personality and impression.
When you’re interviewing a new team member, the process can be long and candidates can begin to blur together after a while. So how do you avoid bias in recruitment and ensure that you’re selecting the most qualified person for the job? Using interview intelligence software like Pillar takes all of the guesswork out of the process, eliminates the threat of implicit bias in the workplace, and ensures that your candidate selection is truly based on the person’s qualifications and readiness for the role.
You are probably thinking this sounds great, but not so simple to accomplish. After all, studies have shown that both gender bias and racial bias are still occurring in the hiring process all of the time, and it’s difficult to know if members of your team are employing unconscious bias in their decision-making processes. This is not surprising considering that many companies still conduct interviews in the same old way--phone calls and group Q&A conversations--and this lack of standardization causes there to be inconsistency from one interview to the next. Not to mention that candidates are also noticing this trend! According to HCI, 72% of job seekers claim to have had negative candidate experiences in job interviews. Bias in hiring statistics show that although our workplaces actually are becoming more diverse, there are still problem areas that need to be addressed in recruitment.
Unfortunately, gender bias in the hiring process is still a problem, resulting in less diverse workspaces. The term “glass ceiling” has existed for a long time and specifically refers to the difficulty women have found in overcoming gender bias in the hiring process. Unconscious bias statistics have shown that women have a harder time than men do with advancing in their fields. Gender bias may be subtle, to some observers, but can be damaging to an individual’s career over time.
Racial bias in the hiring process is also a problem, and perhaps an even bigger one, as it is evidence of racist influence. Candidates have reported being dismissed from an applicant pool despite being exceptionally well-qualified for a position because it is apparent from the name on their application that they are a person of color. Sometimes job descriptions even contain language that indicates a racial bias right out of the gate, making candidates concerned that their applications will be dismissed without regard. When that happens, they are often unsurprised, but this should not be an acceptable expectation.
Understanding your own unconscious biases, training your team, and optimizing your interview processes by using Interview intelligence software can help to mitigate some of these concerns. Taking a conscious step toward inclusivity is necessary to make a change to some of these still disappointing unconscious bias statistics.
If bias exists within a company, and some form of bias exists in all places where humans exist, how will it affect the interview process? The interviewer’s bias, whether it is overt or unconscious, will affect every aspect of the interview process, from who is selected for interviews to how their answers are received by the team. It has been shown that bias in a company begins to infiltrate all aspects of the company’s operations if it is not actively addressed.
The first step toward a fair hiring process is learning how to decrease bias in hiring. Introducing interview intelligence into your interview process can make all the difference. This may include recording your interviews for future playback. This is helpful because most of us misremember details from events once the moment has passed, but watching a recording can allow you to review the experience from the perspective of a watcher instead of a participant.
For example, if you remembered someone answering a question really well, you may be biased toward that person in your decision-making process, but rewatching the recorded interview will allow you to move beyond your bias and instead base your decision about the candidate on the actual response they gave and not on your emotions of the moment.
As a team, it is important to work together to develop a strategy to reduce bias, both in the interview process and in your workplace. Some steps to take to make that happen could include:
-Blind review of applications where only the skills listed are reviewed, not the candidate’s names (and therefore races and genders)
-Identify your and your team’s potential biases by taking this implicit bias test from Project Implicit and Harvard University
-Careful examination of all job listings to ensure biased language is not present
-Education for hiring committees about the dangers of implicit bias and how to address it when interviewing candidates
-Utilize interview intelligence tools like Pillar to provide interviewers with real-time coaching, holding them accountable for unbiased interviews
Affinity bias in hiring is another concern that candidates often face in the hiring process. What is affinity bias? It is a kind of bias that causes people to be subconsciously drawn to others who present like them, in appearance, interests, and/or background. Also called similarity bias, affinity bias can be problematic because, like all types of bias, it limits the kinds of people that a company may hire and potentially removes qualified applicants from the applicant pool. An affinity bias example might be a hiring manager who favors a candidate who graduated from the same university as they did, causing them to dismiss other potential candidates who may be better qualified for the position. (Although this is a form of bias, this example likely causes you to cringe a little realizing that you’ve perhaps witnessed this or even done this in your own hiring process. Selecting candidates based on alma mater is surprisingly common and many people don’t realize what a faulty practice it is!)
Interview candidates have experience with all types of unconscious bias, and from the candidate's side, it can sometimes be difficult to identify. When a person is being hired for a position, they usually don’t know who the competition is or why they have been dismissed from the hiring process, but studies have shown that it’s happening. A 2017 study conducted by the University of Toronto and Ryerson University indicated that people with white-sounding names are 25% more likely to receive initial callbacks than people with Asian or Middle Eastern sounding names. (This means that approximately 25% of applicants with non-white sounding names are not even called in for an interview based on their name alone, not their qualifications or experience.) It’s important for employers or hiring managers to educate their teams about unconscious bias and provide them with the tools they need to ensure unbiased hiring processes.
It’s important to address this issue if you want your company to operate differently. Employers wondering how to reduce bias in the hiring process can use various resources to ensure that this is dealt with, from engaging interview intelligence software like Pillar to keep hiring teams accountable during interviews. Additionally, employers should provide unconscious bias in recruitment training to their employees. This type of training can help employees become aware of their own biases and learn how to avoid them when making hiring decisions. Unconscious bias training should be part of an ongoing effort to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Additional measures, such as blind resume reviews and cultural competence training, can also help reduce bias in hiring. Awareness of bias is the first step toward addressing the issue and eliminating it.
We’d love to teach you more about interview intelligence and how it can help you conduct unbiased interviews. Schedule a demo today!