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5 tips to eradicate unconscious bias in your hiring

by Heat Recruitment

The business case for diversity and inclusion is no secret and unconcious bias is prohibting advancement. Leaders in today’s ever-competitive landscape know full-well the bottom line benefits of hiring high-potential candidates from every corner of the talent pool. Yet, as humans, we’re quick to make snap judgements about people and allow our actions to be guided by these judgements – even if we aren’t aware we are doing it.

This is what’s known as unconscious bias, and when it rears its ugly head in recruitment, it can prevent managers from building the diverse teams they need to compete, grow and innovate. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to stamp out unconscious bias from your hiring process:

1.   Understand unconscious bias

When our brain automatically comes to a decision based on the individual differences of a candidate, it’s easy to chalk it down to “a gut feeling.” In fact, it is often our own backgrounds and beliefs that hijack the decision-making process. Eliminating unconscious bias requires all those involved in hiring decisions to develop an ability to identify this behavioural pattern before it impacts their judgement. Thorough training is a good first step in raising awareness and preventing discrimination from influencing recruitment.

2.   Rewrite your job descriptions

There’s little good in rethinking your interview tactics if your job descriptions are worded in a way that discourages applications from candidates of a certain demographic. When a job spec focuses predominantly on background and experience, for instance, it can quickly dissuade candidates who don’t have that cookie cutter career journey from applying. Having several members of staff of different backgrounds review the job spec can aid in eradicating unconscious bias from this critical part of the process.

3.   Ensure diversity in your interview panel

If you are to wipe out unconscious bias from recruitment and nurture a diverse culture, it’s essential that candidates are met with not just one interviewer but a panel of several members of staff varying in age, background, gender and race. The more people present when interviewing a candidate, the less chance one person’s bias has on impacting the final hiring decision.

4.   Test on performance

Work sample tests that mimic the responsibilities a candidate would be taking on is a common tactic used by hiring managers to gain insight into their skill-level and abilities. By asking your candidates to solve work-related problems, you have tangible evidence by which to assess their performance. Should you have any reservations despite an excellent interview and flying colours in a work sample test, you can quickly identify unconscious bias to be the culprit, put your judgement aside and come to the right decision.

5.   Standardise interview questions

A key step in eliminating unconscious bias from recruitment is to standardise your interview questions. Research shows that unstructured interviews which lack defined questions and are intended to allow for free-flowing conversations are often unreliable for predicting job success. What’s more, they tend to sway an interviewer off-track and open the door to judgements made on likeability instead of performance. While culture-fit is important, keeping your questions focused on factors that directly impact performance will fuel smart hiring decisions instead of choices based on bias.

Finding the right people for the right roles is never easy, but working with an experienced recruitment partner can enhance your chances of hiring success and reduce your long term costs.

For more information on how Heat Recruitment may be able to help you, go to our dedicated Employer page.

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By Ross Bennett