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4 Steps You Can Take To Reduce Recruitment Bias

Shaun Ricci

August 30, 2017

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Recruitment bias has been a major topic in talent acquisition circles lately, including global discussions on pay gaps.

Recruitment bias can take many forms such as unconscious biases like confirmation bias and the halo effect.

Although there’s an increasing awareness that the 50% failure rate for hiring is linked to pre-existing biases, only 68% of companies are measuring diversity and inclusion in their hiring processes.

fighting recruitment bias

If we know that recruitment bias is a problem and increased diversity and transparency is a goal, how do we remove it? Is it possible?

Short answer: yes. But it requires a high degree of commitment.

Here are 4 steps that you can take to reduce bias in your recruiting.

Step 1: Learn from industry resources

There are a number of resources you can consult about how to reduce bias in your recruiting.

One of the more ambitious initiatives is the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, which has resources on affinity groups and networks, metrics to utilize, and best practice for leveraging technology.

Other resources include Google’s seven modules on reducing biases in the workplace and Buffer’s diversity dashboard, which is a great example of being transparent about your recruiting numbers.

Step 2: Reduce subjectivity during screening

It’s impossible to fully remove biases from the hiring process.

Eventually any search will be reduced to a shortlist of candidates and human-to-human interactions, which is inherently going to have some degree of subjectivity.

However, you can reduce biases a lot at the top of the hiring funnel by using technology such as artificial intelligence for resume screening.

AI used in recruiting can source and screen candidates using large quantities of data. It combines these data points to make predictions about who will be the best candidates.

As candidates become employees and perform well or poorly on the job, the AI teaches itself the qualities needed in future hires.

These data points are assessed objectively. They’re not subject to human bias such as, “He went to a school I consider great.

Reducing our subjectivity is a major way to improve hiring decisions, and AI and other technologies can be a great tool to help.

Step 3: Structure your interviews

Decades of research show that the typical job interview is mostly useless because both sides are making decisions based on the impression made in the first 10-15 seconds.

Structured interviews, on the other hand, are one of the strongest predictors of future job success. A structured interview reduces some of the subjectivity of interviewing by standardizing the process.

Laszlo Bock, the former SVP of People Operations at Google, has called structured interviews “an unsung genius.”

By asking the same questions in the same order for all candidates, structured interviews help reduce an interviewer’s confirmation bias.

Step 4: Make reducing recruitment bias a priority

Make sure people, especially senior decision-makers, care about reducing bias and understand how it impacts the bottom line.

There are dozens of studies on this. For example, there’s research that a reduction in bias leads to more empathetic workplaces and teams.

More empathetic teams increase their market capitalization roughly 23.3% per year, compared to 5.2% for less empathetic organizations.

Additionally, recruitment bias is often indicative of other biases within the company. When candidates become employees, there could be huge bottom line problems because of poor retention.

If you make sure everyone understands why this is an issue and what could be done to fix it, you’ll be much further along on fixing the recruitment bias problem.