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Why Recruiters Can’t Face The Battle Against Bias Alone

The battle against bias is a continual fight. Recruitment bias is the inclination or prejudice against an individual person or group of people. This involves making judgements on the basis of unfair thoughts and beliefs — outside of a candidate’s control.

Recruiters and the battle against bias

Conscious and unconscious bias

Conscious bias is above the surface, it’s easier to recognise and harder to avoid. Unconscious bias lies below the surface and can go undetected and even unnoticed by hiring teams for longer periods of time.

Unconscious bias is a consequence of human perception, emotion, stereotypes and personal experiences that influence major hiring stages — from screening, and interviewing to making the final decision. These hidden beliefs can cause many difficulties in creating a fair and completely inclusive recruitment strategy.

It has always been widely recognised that awareness is a vital component in reducing unconscious bias. This is because, being aware means hiring teams are mindful of their motives, aware of diversity and aware of their hiring behaviours. With the intention to squash any potential bias motives occurring, before they have the chance to take full effect. Whilst this technique is a great first step in reducing bias, more can be done.

Inclusive recruitment

To help tackle inequality and encourage diversity, inclusive recruitment is a necessity in any recruiter’s toolkit. Given that a diverse workforce encourages, innovative thinking, increased productivity and improved employee performance — inclusivity is a no-brainer!

According to recent findings published by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, 85% of employers recognise that increasing diversity should be a priority. However, only 42% of employers do not have any strategies in place to reduce unconscious bias when recruiting.

Hiring innovation

A major effort to reduce recruitment bias is through technology. There are different automated hiring solutions available to assist in the reduction of bias occurrences. A few specific tools are highlighted below:

1. Candidate screening

Anonymised job applications involve the removal of any identifiable candidate information. As human input will always be slightly prone to unconscious bias, some employers already request that applicants must not disclose information such as their name, because of the influential connotations associated with who the candidate is, their gender, nationality, etc.

Whilst removing a name is a step in the right direction, CV screening technology guarantees the complete removal of candidate info. Hiring algorithms are designed to search, match and present a ranked result of ‘best fit’ applicants to employers. By considering a candidate’s skill and experience as determining factors in their progression to the next hiring stage.

2. Consistency

Standardising the hiring process entails equal treatment for every single job applicant. One that is composed of these consistent hiring practices:

  • An initial fair screening process, one that preferably incorporates technology.
  • A strong interview structure, including the same set of questions for each candidate surrounding the skills and abilities of the role.
  • A group backed the final hiring decision, to ensure each reason to hire follows the same rationale. This works best when based on evidence from an interview scoring system.

Because without this, inconsistencies will occur. Particularly when manually screening job applications and conducting unstructured job interviews. As both are highly suspectable to bias and open interpretation into what makes a good hire.

Instead, it is far more inclusive and fair to create a standard set of skills a successful candidate must meet. Through job application screening software, standardisation becomes the norm.

If all potential employees undertake the exact same hiring process, there is little room for ‘exceptions’ from the hiring manager. Including unfair decisions based on affinity bias generating unconscious favouritism towards like-minded people.

3. Incorporating new sourcing techniques

Identify talent with technology. Automated candidate search and discovery technology will enable hiring teams to dig deep within their own existing talent database and automatically match existing talent to live vacancies. Presenting historic candidates with a second chance and new job opportunity that may be better suited to their current skills.

A previously rejected candidate should not be subject to future bias. Without candidate discovery technology it presents the potential risk of hiring managers not looking favourably upon these applicants. Recruiters can become transfixed on identifying a failed candidate as a ‘negative’ trait, often allowing it to cloud their judgement on future hiring decisions.

However, this is not entirely accurate. Candidates have time to build upon their skill set and return for a new opportunity if matched correctly through automated initiatives. Something which can be difficult to achieve and manage through human input alone.

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