Understanding Recruitment Bias and How to Help Eliminate It from Your Hiring Process

Hiring the right person for the job can be a challenge for even the most organized of companies, but sometimes we complicate the process by allowing our unconscious bias to influence our choices. By removing recruitment bias from our hiring decisions, we not only save time, but we increase the chances of bringing on the best candidate and creating a diverse workforce. 

But what is unconscious bias in recruitment, and how do we prevent it? PandoLogic has done some research to help you learn what it is and make it a thing of the past!

What is Unconscious Bias in Recruitment and What Causes It?

Unconscious recruitment bias is allowing our first impression to shape our opinion of someone, and can include common implicit biases such as racism, ageism, or sexism. It can also be when we apply irrelevant criteria to the hiring decision, such as “This is a person I could hang out with after work.” 

Unconscious recruitment bias is sometimes based on a stereotype and is closely related to affinity bias, where we choose people that think, look or act like we do. When we allow our hiring bias to cloud our recruitment process, we’re applying a set of criteria that isn’t skill-based. Instead of judging a candidate based on their ability to do the job, we are letting common hiring biases influence our hiring decisions. 

Three Types of Unconscious Bias

There are three common types of unconscious bias: information bias, selection bias, and confounding bias. Each of these three types can have a negative impact on your candidate pool before you even get to interviews. 

Information bias can inspire you to seek out more information than is necessary to make the decision, skewing the data you have on each candidate, while selection bias brings subjective factors into the process, erroneously limiting your choices. Confounding bias is allowing a trend to affect decisions, rather than solid, consistent data.

How to Manage Unconscious Recruitment Bias

Rather than manage unconscious recruitment bias, we can aim to remove it. There are several steps that can be taken to simplify the hiring process while ensuring the best candidates are considered; typically, removing bias enlarges the pool of options and allows you to hire someone that may not have made it to the interview step prior.

Review Your Job Descriptions

Job descriptions can often be loaded with terms and verbiage that confuse or intimidate. Thoroughly reviewing your job description to ensure they are inclusive and diverse is critical. 

This will increase the number of applications you receive, reaching people you may not have prior. Studies also show that certain terms lean towards a certain gender, so researching your words to delete any that are seen as more male- or female-focused will help.

Cast a Wider Net with Job Description Placement

List your job in areas you may not have considered before. There are countless job sites beyond the large boards you are probably more accustomed to leveraging. Using a programmatic vendor, like PandoLogic, you’re able to push your job ads out to thousands of today’s leading job destinations, big sites, small sites, geographically diverse sites etc., to cast a much wider net. Expanding your sources means you’re more likely to collect a diverse applicant pool.

Once you’ve changed the wording in the description, this can be the second part of a two-step change to get more out of your listings.

Consider Blind Resume Hiring

The blind hiring approach removes information from the process that could inspire bias until the final interview stage. For example, it will remove the candidate’s name, location, information that hints at their age or other factors that could inspire bias, consciously or unconsciously. 

This gives you a pool of people to choose from based on skills and experience rather than things out of the candidate’s control.

Don’t Hold Their Interview Environment Against Them

Allowing remote interviews is always a bonus, but not everyone has a private space or quiet room in which to hold interviews, particularly if someone is out of work and living with a family member. If someone’s background is ‘messy’ or cluttered, or there are external noises, this can be held against them, when it has nothing to do with their abilities or skills and may be temporary based on their current employment situation. 

Standardize Your Interview Process

Some interviews can quickly go off the rails when the interviewer starts asking rogue questions. This makes it difficult to compare responses and make a fair decision. Standardizing the process by using the same questions in each interview eliminates that concern. 

You can also request work samples to improve fairness and lessen concern over questions that may be inadequately answered due to the candidate being nervous and not displaying their best self. Structured interviews, all employing the same methods, go a long way in removing unconscious bias.

Use an Alternative Method or Tool

One of the biggest hurdles of dealing with unconscious bias in recruitment is being aware. Once you know it’s a problem, you can tackle it, one step at a time.Using a service such as PandoLogic’s recruiting software will allow you to source candidates on a larger scale while helping to alleviate bias and uphold standards of communication. 

Let PandoLogic help you with a free demo, so we can get you on the road to building your team today!

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