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One of the topics that has taken center stage over the last few years is bias in the hiring process. Bias is when a decision is made based on personal views, preferences, or beliefs. Even if the person making the decision does not realize it, their decisions can be affected by unconscious biases. This can lead to unfairness in recruitment and selection processes and have real impacts on diversity and inclusion efforts.
How to reduce bias in the hiring process:
Bias has no place in the hiring process as this decision will affect their livelihood and future. It is essential to make sure that the recruitment and selection process is unbiased. Here are some tips for avoiding unconscious bias in interviewing:
1. Use an objective criterion - To ensure that decisions about candidates are based on their qualifications rather than personal biases, recruiters should create objective criteria to determine a candidate's suitability for a position. This includes making sure there is no bias in the job descriptions, as well as creating criteria for assessing each candidate's skills and abilities.
2. Utilize structured (or at least semi-structured) interviews - Structured interviews are those that use predetermined questions asked of all candidates. This allows interviewers to focus on the same objective criteria and avoid subconsciously favoring one candidate over another due to their personal preferences.
3. Make sure hiring decisions are made by more than one person - Having someone else review the decision or act as a tiebreaker can help reduce bias.
4. Utilize diverse interview panels – Panels should be composed of people from various backgrounds and experiences to make sure all perspectives are being considered. This is especially important when it comes to diversity initiatives, as recruiters should strive to make sure all candidates are being seen without preconceived notions or biases.
5. Educate human resources staff - All personnel involved in the recruitment and selection process must be aware of unconscious bias and how it can affect decisions. Training on unbiased decision-making is essential to ensure that everyone is making informed decisions based on objective criteria.
It is important to be aware of bias in recruitment and selection so that you can create an equitable and fair hiring process. Pillar's interview intelligence software was built with this in mind. With interviewer coaching tools to help your team eliminate any unconscious biases that may be affecting their decisions, you can ensure that the most objective criteria are used and the qualified candidate gets hired.
Unconscious bias affects everyone and must be addressed in order for us to build an equitable and inclusive workplace. By understanding how unconscious bias works and implementing measures to reduce it in recruitment and selection processes, we can create a more diverse and productive work environment. With the right training, tools, and processes in place, we can create a culture of fairness and inclusion.
Let's talk about the types of biases in hiring that can affect your recruitment process. The first (and probably most well-known) is unconscious bias in hiring. Unconscious bias in the hiring process is when a decision is made based on personal views, preferences, or beliefs. It can be subtle and hard to detect, but it can make the recruitment process unfair due to favoring certain candidates over others. This type of bias can affect decisions from job descriptions to who is hired for the position - and unconscious bias is just one of many types of bias in recruitment and selection
Another type of bias is ageism, which is discrimination based on a person's age. It can manifest itself in both subtle and overt ways, such as asking questions about retirement plans or when the candidate graduated from college. Such language should be avoided as it can lead to favoring younger candidates over older ones.
Gender bias is also a huge problem in recruitment and selection processes. This includes any decisions or language that favors one gender over another, such as asking questions about a candidate's marital status or parental leave plans. Gender bias should be avoided at all costs and recruiters should strive to make sure their hiring process is fair for all genders.
Finally, there is racial bias in recruitment and selection processes. It can manifest itself in subtle ways, such as asking certain questions or discriminating against candidates with accents. It is important to make sure racial bias is avoided in the hiring process and that race or ethnicity does not play a role in who is hired for the position.
These are the big 3 to be aware of, and most forms of bias fall into one of these three categories: Age, Gender, or Racial Bias.
But there are also more subtle forms of bias that may not be as well known. For example, socio-economic status can play a role in hiring decisions if a recruiter is looking at candidates from a certain economic background. Candidates with higher levels of education and experience may be favored over those without, even if the candidate has more transferable skills or the same level of qualifications. This is why it is important to be aware of how socioeconomic status can affect recruitment and selection processes.
Here are some of the ways biases can show up in interviews:
1. Asking questions about a candidate’s family, such as marital status or parental leave plans - this type of question favors one gender over another
2. Making assumptions based on candidates' accents - this could lead to racial bias in the hiring process
3. Focusing too much on a candidate's educational background - could indicate socioeconomic bias
4. Asking questions about retirement plans or graduation dates - this type of language can indicate ageism in recruitment and selection processes.
Being aware of these types of biases is the first step to identifying their potential risk in the recruitment and selection process. When recruiters are aware of unconscious bias, they can ensure that all candidates are being assessed on the same objective criteria and that decisions are made without any form of discrimination.
Let's dive deeper into unconscious bias interview examples so you can see how they affect the process. We'll do this by going a layer deeper
At a previous company I worked for, we always made it our objective to hire from our networks. This included the schools and universities we attended, our previous places of employment, and friend groups. The challenge with this type of hiring process is that it can create space for affinity bias to creep in. Affinity bias is the tendency to favor people who are similar to us and can manifest itself in the hiring process when recruiters are drawn towards candidates who have something in common with themselves - sports, alma mater, previous places of employment, etc. This is an example of unconscious bias in recruitment.
In many ways, this type of bias can be beneficial if it increases diversity in the workplace- especially when candidates from underrepresented backgrounds are hired. However, affinity bias can also lead to a lack of objectivity in the hiring process if a candidate is favored simply because they fit the same mold as the recruiter or other team members. This is why it's doubly important to be aware of affinity biases if you're hiring from your network.
Another example of unconscious bias is confirmation bias - it is the tendency to look for evidence that confirms our existing opinions. For instance, if a recruiter has a certain idea of what their ideal candidate's educational background should look like, they may be swayed towards assessing a candidate based on that opinion rather than the skills and qualifications they have to offer. This kind of bias can lead to overlooking great candidates who may not fit into preconceived notions of what a “good” candidate looks like.
For instance, I know an orthopedic surgeon who went to Yale School of Medicine. Because of the rigorous curriculum and strenuous work ethic required of him to pass that program, he held the program in high regard and tried to hire other surgeons as he grew his practice with Yale degrees. While there's nothing wrong with hiring from your alma mater, you can quickly overlook candidate red flags if you're trying to confirm your assumptions rather than objectively assess a candidate's qualifications. This is another unconscious bias in recruitment example.
Finally, there is implicit bias in recruitment and selection processes - this type of bias is typically unconscious and can manifest itself in seemingly innocuous ways. Implicit biases are based on assumptions about certain groups of people without direct evidence to back them up. For instance, if a recruiter has an underlying assumption that all young female candidates will take maternity leave soon after they start, they may not be as inclined to hire them. This type of bias can lead to discrimination against candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and should always be taken into consideration when making hiring decisions.
Another implicit bias that became very evident during the pandemic because of stay-at-home orders and remote work conditions was name discrimination. Candidates with more “ethnic-sounding” names may have been overlooked by recruiters due to the hidden assumption that they would not be able to fulfill remote work requirements since their location or background was unknown. This is an example of implicit bias that could have been avoided if recruiters were aware of it and consciously assessed each candidate on their individual merits.
In the future, no candidate should be discriminated against because of their name, gender, identity, age, or background. With technology, the world is a far smaller place than it used to be, and it's up to us to be inclusive and encouraging of everyone. With workforce shortages and global connectivity, we can't afford to let biases limit our ability to solve the problems of the future.