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What is bias in the hiring process, and how do we remove it? This is a question society as a whole has been asking predominantly for the past decade. Prior to that, organizations did not focus on reducing bias in recruitment and selection. However, with the rise of global movements focused on equality and diversity, companies have been forced to take a closer look at their hiring processes.
Bias in Recruitment and Selection:
Bias is a tendency or inclination towards an individual or group that is either favorable or unfavorable based on preconceived notions. This means biases could be positive or negative depending on their specific application. In the context of hiring, "bias" generally refers to any form of prejudice or discrimination that may influence decision-making during the recruitment and selection process. This can be conscious or unconscious and can manifest in various ways, such as ageism, sexism, racism, ableism, religious discrimination, etc.
In the past, recruiters relied heavily on subjective factors such as gut feelings and personal impressions when selecting candidates for a role. This approach left many candidates - particularly those from marginalized groups - at a disadvantage. However, with advancements in technology and the availability of data, companies can now use more objective methods to remove bias in hiring completely.
In this article, we're going to talk about the types of biases that could be affecting your hiring. We'll cover how to reduce, avoid, and even eliminate biases from your screening and interview processes and show you tools like interview intelligence software that can help. But keep in mind, that as an interviewer, HR professional, or recruiter, the first step towards removing bias in your hiring process is acknowledging that it exists and understanding how it can impact your decisions.
None of us truly wants to believe we'd let bias affect our decisions. It's an ugly and uncomfortable truth to face. Still, it's essential to recognize that we all have biases - whether they're conscious or unconscious. As humans, we tend to gravitate towards people who look like us, share our beliefs and values, and even have similar interests. While this is natural, it can also lead to a homogenous workplace if left unchecked- and removing these biases will not only create more effective teams, it will create a better work culture as a whole.
Before we get into how to reduce bias in the hiring process, let's talk about some bias in hiring statistics so you understand the gravity of the problem. What percentage of interviews would you say are affected by bias in one way or another? The answer may shock you. According to a survey by PWC, 61% of job seekers have experienced discrimination during the hiring process - with 38% citing ageism as the most common form of bias. 61%!
Do you want to hear another crazy statistic? According to Zippia, 48% of hiring managers admit letting biases affect their hiring decisions. Almost half! While we've come a long way in the past decade, we still need to work harder to reduce conscious and unconscious bias in hiring.
So what can we do to reduce bias in hiring?
The first step towards reducing bias in the hiring process is acknowledging its existence. Companies must understand that no matter how unbiased they believe their recruitment and selection processes are, there is always room for improvement. Here are a few strategies organizations can implement to reduce bias in hiring:
- Remove identifying information: During the initial stages of the hiring process, such as resume screening or application review, consider removing any personal details (name, gender, age) that could potentially reveal a candidate's demographic. This will help ensure recruiters focus solely on the candidate's qualifications and skills.
- Use semi-structured interviews: Structured interviews use a standardized set of questions for all candidates, reducing the chances of bias in the interview process. This also allows for more objective evaluation and comparison of candidates.
- Train recruiters and hiring managers: Educating recruiters and hiring managers about the different types of biases that can occur in the hiring process is crucial. This will help them recognize their own biases and make more informed decisions when evaluating candidates.
- Utilize technology: As mentioned earlier, advancements in technology have made it possible to reduce bias in hiring with tools like interview intelligence software. These platforms use AI and data-driven insights to analyze interviewer behavior and provide feedback on potential areas of bias.
Using these strategies alone will eliminate 75% of interview biases, but let's take it one step further. The next step is to identify an internal champion who's passionate about diversity and inclusion initiatives. This person should act as a driving force for change, advocating for a fair and inclusive hiring process within the organization. They can take on the task of identifying training programs and solutions to help reduce bias in hiring and ensure they are continuously implemented and updated.
Now that we've covered how to reduce bias in the hiring process, let's talk about the types of bias in hiring you need to be vigilant about. As we mentioned earlier, bias can be conscious or unconscious - and both have the potential to negatively impact your hiring decisions.
Here are the most common forms of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace:
1. Affinity bias: This is when a recruiter or interviewer favors candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of demographics, experiences, or interests.
2. Confirmation bias: This occurs when a recruiter or interviewer seeks out information that supports their preconceived notions about a candidate and ignores any information that contradicts it.
3. Beauty bias: This is the tendency to favor more attractive candidates over others based on physical appearance.
4. Halo effect: This is when an individual's positive qualities in one area influence how they are perceived in other areas, leading to biased evaluations. For example, a candidate with an impressive educational background may be perceived as more competent in other areas.
5. Horns effect: On the flip side of the halo effect, this is when one negative trait or experience can overshadow all of a candidate's positive qualities, leading to biased evaluations.
6. Confirmation bias: This happens when a recruiter or interviewer seeks out information that confirms their preconceived notions about a candidate and disregards any evidence that contradicts it.
Recognizing these types of biases is crucial in order to take steps towards reducing them in your hiring process. Along with awareness, you can't eliminate biases without utilizing tools like interview intelligence and strategies such as blind screening and structured interviews. It's essential to continually educate yourself and your team on each form of bias and use the tools available to you to eliminate it.
So we've covered the most common types of hiring bias and talked about reducing bias, meaning it's time to discuss how to avoid bias in interviews specifically. We've already mentioned some strategies like using structured interviews and training recruiters, but here are a few additional tips for conducting unbiased interviews:
- Create a diverse interview panel: Having multiple perspectives during the interviewing process can help reduce individual biases and provide a more comprehensive evaluation of candidates.
- Ask behavior-based questions: Instead of hypothetical or situational questions, ask candidates about specific experiences they've had in the past. This will give insight into their actual behavior and actions rather than just their theoretical responses.
- Use assessment tools: Consider incorporating objective assessment tools like skills tests or work samples into your interview process. This will help evaluate candidates based on their abilities rather than subjective opinions.
- Give equal opportunities to all candidates: Ensure that each candidate is given the same amount of time and attention during the interview. Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions based on first impressions.
It's also essential to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all candidates, regardless of their background. This can include using gender-neutral language, being mindful of cultural differences, and addressing any potential biases that may arise during the interview process.
Companies like Google have found that creating a structured and unbiased hiring process has led to more diverse and qualified hires. This shift in focus changed their workforce and led to a more inclusive work culture for all! Meaning- more people wanted to spend more time together, solving bigger problems on teams of diverse thinkers and problem solvers. What if your company culture looked like that?
In conclusion, reducing bias in hiring is an ongoing effort that requires a combination of strategies, tools, and continuous education. By implementing these steps and remaining vigilant about identifying and addressing biases, companies can create a fairer and more inclusive recruitment process.
If you've struggled to build diverse teams and would like to remove bias from your hiring processes, book your demo of Pillar today. Our interview intelligence software is powered by AI that's programmed for diversity. In the last year alone, several of our customers have increased diversity hiring by 50%+. If you'd like to see how they did it, chat with someone on our team today!