Despite your best intentions, unconscious biases can creep into your hiring decisions.
You may disapprove of a candidate because of a tattoo or a hairstyle. Or you may find yourself favoring another because of the university they went to or because you have similar interests. Gender plays a role too. You may unintentionally favor your own gender or act upon stereotypes such as believing that men are better than women at certain type of jobs.
But if you want to attract the best talent to your company, it is important that you keep unintentional biases out of your recruitment process. When biases influence your recruiting process, you are prone to discriminating and making unfair, lazy choices.
We recommend the following strategies to prevent hiring biases:
Write an objective job description
How you describe the role will determine the kind of applicants you’ll attract. It is important that you write an inclusive and gender-neutral job posting. Overuse of masculine language or bro-speak may discourage female applicants. You could also use software programs to weed out stereotypical gendered words from your post.
Make it clear that you are an equal opportunities employer. Encourage diverse candidates to apply.
Also, avoid putting down a long and unrealistic list of job requirements. It discourages talented candidates who may not meet 100% of your listed criteria. Instead, you could mention which job qualifications are a must-have and which would be nice to have.
Opt for blind resume reviews
A blind review of resumes means that you hide characteristics, such as age, ethnicity, gender, to prevent unintentional biases from slipping in. Doing so helps you focus on skills and qualifications, and not on preconceived notions you may form about applicants based on their name or age. You could either use a software or a staffing agency for the blind resume review process.
Include a skills test
Another effective way to gauge a candidate’s competency for the job is to give them a skills test or work exercise. The tasks in the test should be similar to what the candidate will do on the job. This will help you compare, and shortlist candidates based on the quality of their work and not personal traits.
Conduct structured interviews
In a casual interview, the interviewer’s questions are spontaneous and based, perhaps, on a quick perusal of the candidate’s resume.
In a structured interview, however, the interviewer prepares a set of questions in advance. All candidates are asked the same questions in the same order. Though a structured interview may require more work on your part, it helps you assess candidates in a fair and objective manner. It reduces bias as you can simply compare different answers and pick the best person for the job.
Besides standardizing interviews, you should put together a diverse hiring panel. Involving different perspectives in the hiring process would help keep unconscious biases in check.
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