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5 Ways to Reduce Bias When Recruiting

Published December 6, 2020 (last updated on April 17, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

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Australian society is a multicultural society. Different cultures and worldviews are represented in Australia’s diverse population – and this diversity is most likely reflected in your customer base too. If you can expand your hiring options, you may be able to power your business through the varied perspectives of a diverse workforce.

Diversity in the workplace can bring multiple skill-sets and perspectives to the table. Moreover, a business with a diverse workforce tends to have more business success than a business without. Reducing bias in your hiring process is one way to increase the diversity of your workforce.

Many biases we have are prejudices and preferences that we aren’t aware of. Unconscious bias against race, appearance, gender, and other factors influences how we treat those around us and how we make decisions. 

What is Hiring Bias?

Hiring bias is when unconscious bias influences the hiring process. These biases cause us to make decisions favouring a particular person or group to the detriment of others.

Hiring bias can lock your company out of recruiting the best candidates for your business. What steps can you take to reduce bias?

1.    Create Awareness About Hiring Bias

As we’ve established, hiring bias is unconscious. Your managers – or yourself, if you run a small business – may not be aware that they’re letting their biases affect the hiring process. You’ll need to conduct awareness training to help them understand what hiring bias is, the importance of reducing it, and strategies to limit bias when they are hiring.

Awareness training may spark consideration of yours or others’ bias when hiring and provide an opportunity for your employees to come up with ideas on the steps the company as a whole can take to minimise bias.

2.    Eliminate Biased Language from your Job Descriptions

Job listings are crucial in the hiring process and often provide the company’s first impression of its culture. Gendered language in your job listings can substantially impact your candidates’ application pool and diversity. Research shows using masculine language, which includes words like ‘guys’ or adjectives such as ‘determined’ or ‘competitive’, results in women perceiving that they won’t fit in the work environment.  

To counter this effect, consider either replacing such words with neutral words or try to create a balance and reduce gender bias by using the same number of gendered narratives.

3.    Standardise Interviews

You can reduce unconscious bias in your hiring process by being more intentional with your interview process. Ensure that you use the same methods to shortlist all candidates, as unconscious bias can easily creep in if you use different hiring methods.

While unstructured interviews feel more personal and flow naturally, they tend to create an imbalance since each candidate is treated differently. Structured interviews, on the other hand, is a proven method to minimise bias. By asking all the candidates the same set of defined questions, the hiring managers can focus on the factors that directly impact performance.

4.    Practice Blind Hiring

Diversity recruiting requires you to level the playing field. Blind hiring ensures you’re focused on the candidate’s specific talents and qualifications, not surface demographic characteristics. Information such as the candidate’s names can bring out unconscious bias in your hiring managers.

A survey found that candidates with ethnic-sounding names had a 28% minimal chance to be called back than Anglo-named candidates. This is despite having the same country of origin, similar work histories, and educational backgrounds.

Consider creating a blind systematic process for applications and resume review. Obscure the candidate’s details to prevent unconscious bias from influencing the hiring process.

5.    Set Diversity Goals

Setting concrete diversity goals ensures the issue of hiring bias and diversity is front and centre for everyone at the organisation. However, you need to be careful when introducing diversity goals to hiring managers and employees since diversity hiring can be controversial for many companies.

It can result in backlash from traditionally advantaged groups and undermine the new employees hired in those categories. Use data to track how you’re doing against the set diversity goals. This will encourage your hiring managers to keep equality and diversity top of mind.

 Benefits Of Reducing Hiring Bias

  • A diverse workforce is more innovative, smarter and generates more revenue for the company.

  • Diverse organisations perform much better and grow faster. According to McKinsey’s report  on the effect of diversity on financial performance, organisations with a diverse workforce have a 20% chance to see above-average profits.

  • Diversity makes recruiting easy since most job seekers evaluate job offers and companies using diversity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Unconscious Bias Matter in the Hiring Process?

Unconscious bias matters during the hiring process because it is potentially locking you out of hiring the best candidate or candidates for your advertised role.

How do you Reduce Bias During an Interview?
  • Don’t ask where the candidate where they’re from, or what their background is
  • Don’t make snap judgements during the interview
  • Don’t ask where the candidate grew up or what school they want to
What are the Consequences of Biased Recruitment Practices?

The consequences of a biased recruitment practice is that the pool of potential employees is shallow and limits the quality of candidates that your business could employ.

How can Personal Bias Affect Recruitment?

Personal bias affects recruitment in several ways, as one’s emotions or personal experience comes into play and the result may be contrary to what is best for the company or the position in question.

Can Artificial Intelligence Eliminate Bias in Hiring?

Potentially, although artificial intelligence is created by humans and thus will have its own biases.

How do you Remove Bias from a Job Description?
  • Offer anonymous or blind submissions. In other words, asked candidates to submit a resume without their name so their ethnicity or national background doesn’t impact their hiring process
  • Standardise interviews and the hiring process
  • Eliminate biased language from your job descriptions

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