How to Remove Unconscious Bias From Your Hiring Process

Carolyne Njeri

How to Remove Unconscious Bias From Your Hiring Process
Hiring biases can prevent you from scoring the best talent for your skill gaps. But there are actionable steps you can take towards a more fair hiring process.

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It is not a secret that the hiring process is riddled with biases. This can range from racial and gender discrimination, ageism, to a host of other prejudices that close doors on people who would otherwise be qualified for a vacancy. But not only does hiring bias hurt those that it leaves out, it may also keep a company closed off from new perspectives that would lead to its growth. According to research, employees working at large companies that propagate biases are three times more likely to be disengaged at work and 34% of those who perceive bias in their workplace report to have withheld solutions and ideas. But besides low productivity, some extreme forms of biases may attract legal action leaving businesses vulnerable.

Types of biases

Aside from the common biases that we are aware of; racial, gender and age, there are many other ways in which biases manifest in the workplace, sometimes in ways you may not even realize are prejudicial.

 

Affinity bias– Hiring people who have similarities with you, for instance if they went to the same school or come from the same town as you.

Perception bias– Judging a candidate based on preconceived notions from your interactions with people from the same group as them, like assuming that someone of Asian descent is automatically good with numbers.

Confirmation bias– Seeking out information or drawing unsupported conclusions about a candidate because you want to fit them into your own assumptions.

Conformity bias– You make the decision to hire a candidate because it seems like everyone else prefers them and you don’t want to voice a different opinion.

Halo effect– Where confirmation bias focuses on the negative, the halo effect comes into play when a recruiter identifies a good trait in a candidate and lets this one aspect blind them to other shortcomings that the candidate may have.

 

Though it seems that these biases are many, the good news is, there are ways that you can recognize and eliminate them in your recruitment process, ensuring that you hire the best possible talent. In this blog, we share several of these actionable steps to help you remove these blind spots from your business hiring processes.

  • Acknowledge that biases exist

The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging its existence.  You need to understand what prejudices may be at work in your company to realize how they influence your employee screening process. For recruitment managers, awareness training can be beneficial in opening their eyes, allowing them to accept that they may be biased (many people are in denial about their biases) and help them work towards improvement.

One of the many diagnostic tools you can use to identify bias in your workplace is to administer a survey. Project Implicit, a Harvard-run initiative, checks for biases around 90 different topics, and is readily available on the internet. An analysis from the results of this survey over the past 20 years has brought to light the extent of biases in the job market. For instance, it showed that 76% of respondents preferred white people over black people of the same calibre, and that 70% relate men with science and 75% relate women with the arts.

By running such exercises you can identify what kind of prejudices exist in your workplace, and from there curtail a suitable course of action to remedy it.          

  • Assess your hiring process 

Hiring is a highly subjective process. This is why it is important to make it a collective effort. Instead of having one person run your interviews, build a team of 2-3 people instead. A diversified opinion may help bring more inclusivity to your recruitment, as the risk of bias is reduced significantly. And at each stage of your recruitment, Forbes advises you to carry out culture, bias, diversity and inclusion audits to maintain its integrity and transparency.

Another step may be to use a third party to help you bring on new talent. And since recruitment agencies have lost their efficiency over the years, shifting to online freelance marketplaces with enterprise solutions should be your next big move. With platforms like Ureed Enterprise, whose primary concern is connecting you with freelancers that add the highest value to your business, you’re guaranteed that your potential employees are going to match your needs to a tee. The transparency of online marketplaces, as well as their expertly selected talent team of talent acquisition specialists, promises a thorough & bias-free talent sourcing process.

  • Check the wording on your job descriptions

Are you wondering why your job postings on Ureed.com are attracting pitches from certain demographics only? Then it may be time to rework your descriptions. This research paper shows that some “gendered” wording (masculine and feminine-themed words) may be an unacknowledged reason behind the maintained inequality in the job search.

Words like “competitive” were shown to attract more male candidates than those that used words like “collaborative”,  which drew more women than men. Subtle differences like these may affect the perception of candidates towards the company and their prospective roles, and either persuade or dissuade them from applying.

  • Standardise your screening process

Although it may sound impersonal to dish out the same questions to all your candidates, it ensures that your interviewing process is thorough and that all your potential employees have the same experience. While open-ended interviews may help you get to know your candidate better, they may favour those who have interests similar to yours, creating an unfair advantage. According to The Harvard Business Review, unstructured interviews aren’t even reliable, as they are not good indicators of future job performance.

  • Use blind applications

Reviewing resumes whose personal details like names, age and address have been removed will ensure you focus only on the skills and experiences that a candidate has presented rather than perceived information. This levels the playing field and increases your chances of including relevant candidates in your hiring pool. It is very important to remember that the essence of hiring is assessing the skills that a potential employee brings to the table, rather than how well their social background fits into the company culture.

  • Maintain accountability

Your commitment to diversifying your workplace should be ingrained into your workplace policy. Employees may not respond well to lip service when it comes to making them feel included despite their diverse backgrounds. Walk the talk by holding yourself, your hiring managers and other top executives accountable if the rules on inclusion and sensitivity at the workplace are not adhered to. 

Also, your company’s public image may be hurt if you’re known to hire the “token” employee from a different background just to give the illusion of inclusivity.

In conclusion…

Although biases are commonplace, their impact on the employee recruitment process may deter the growth of a business or even tarnish its reputation. It is therefore important to make diversity a key gambit in your company’s strategy if its survival in our conscientious times is to be guaranteed.

At Ureed.com, we’re committed to diversity. This is why we connect you to thousands of freelancers from all over the globe who possess the skills to take your business to the next level. Use our platform Ureed Enterprise to make your next hire your best hire!

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