“Unconscious bias” occurs when recruiters favor one applicant over another due to their prejudices. Candidates and employees who find themselves victims of unconscious bias suffer declines in morale, productivity, and general happiness at work.
Everyone has unconscious biases, and unfortunately, these biases often make their way into the hiring process. When candidates are applying for jobs, 80% view diversity and inclusion as a competitive advantage. Doing your part in eliminating unconscious bias is not only the right thing to do but will also improve your hiring process and help you attract top talent.
Today, take a step back and reflect on your hiring process. How might it be biased, and how can you fix it? We’ll dive into some common forms of bias and how to address them.
The first step to fixing your process is simply admitting there could be a problem. Implicit bias exists, and your team will need to confront it and account for it. Work to create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration among everyone involved in your hiring process. This is a great time for workshops and trainings to further educate your team.
Common Areas of Bias in Hiring
The first place to check for bias is the structure of your hiring process. Ask yourself:
- Where are my job openings posted? Are they behind paywalls? Are they on accessible platforms?
- What are the job requirements, and how might they impact people from different backgrounds? For example, a strict GPA requirement might shut out valuable candidates who had access to fewer resources.
- Am I including several recruiters or team members in each candidate’s interview process? The more perspectives, the better.
- Am I asking the same questions to each candidate? This makes it easier to compare job prospects fairly.
- Does my process give applicants the chance to showcase their skills? For some positions, asking applicants for a portfolio or to complete a short exercise is a great way to evaluate skills without making assumptions.
Consider the above as you reflect on your process. How could your process change to be more inclusive?
Steps to Address Bias and Help Eliminate Unconscious Bias
Here are some actionable steps you can take to reduce bias in your hiring:
- Enroll your team in unconscious bias training
- Consider a blind resume review (removing names from applications) as you begin your hiring. This can help to reduce racism and sexism in early candidate screenings
- Use interview scorecards or other consistent metrics to grade each candidate uniformly
- Form a diverse hiring team
- Set specific and measurable Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals. Hold yourself and your company accountable for making change
- Be transparent about the salary you are offering from the beginning of the process, rather than deciding on a number after selecting a candidate
- Consider outsourcing recruitment
Addressing bias involves a comprehensive look at every part of your hiring process from the job descriptions to the final candidate selection. Take the time to educate your team and evaluate your process for ways to improve. As you move forward, continue to modify and adapt diversity goals as needed in order to keep moving forward because getting rid of unconscious bias is good for your company culture and good for business.
This article was originally published on January 27, 2022; it has since been updated and republished on July 26, 2023.