Our take on unbiased recruitment
Transparency is important to us and even though we have over 20 years of experience working with unbiased recruitment methods, we are still affected by unconscious biases. So we wanted to share our approach to unbiased hiring and some practical tips, so you quickly can assess your own hiring method and identify what parts to change. Because there are many things you can do to become more unbiased and counter the things which could negatively impact our decision-making and recruitment process. Here is our take.
Explore the topic:
1. What is unbiased recruitment?
Unbiased recruitment is a process focused on identifying and selecting future colleagues based on their skills and competencies. Without taking background or appearance into consideration. When creating an unbiased process, you don’t allow unconscious biases to affect the recruitment and job-seekers can be assessed in a fair way. When done right, unbiased recruitment can promote openness and belonging which leads to a more inclusive environment.
To be able to create measurable data from your process, you need to focus on the right areas for data collection and decide on the right competence for the specific role you’re recruiting for. A common misconception is that competence consists only of theoretical or practical knowledge and this is the most common area of basing your selection decision if only looking at a resume for example. The optimal combination for defining competence is not only to look for specific knowledge and experience but also personality traits, aptitude, and motivation. A candidate's competencies should always be related to a specific task or situation and the different areas might therefore vary in importance depending on what role you’re recruiting for, meaning, one candidate might be very competent for one role, but not for another.
"With Tengai we gained a scientific way to compare and select the best candidates. I'm convinced that Tengai will contribute to a more sustainable labor market"
Åsa Edman Källströmer, CEO at TNG
2. How to create an unbiased hiring process
1. Use inclusive language in the job description
Having an inclusive job description includes leaving out gender-based language and terms, as well as industry jargon. Start with a job title that leaves out any hint of gender or industry preference. Keep it simple and focus on the job at hand. Likewise, work on eliminating masculine and feminine words from the job posting
2. Automate the screening interview
The first interview is a critical part of the recruitment funnel and a place where unconscious biases play the biggest part. But how could be detrimental for a nervous job applicant? Well, when first impressions are working as the basis for your hiring decision, most candidates will experience an unfair assessment. Today we know that humans make unconscious judgments after just 0.1 seconds. Looking at a recently published study based on 2000 managers, 33% only needed 90 seconds to decide whom they wanted to hire. The same study shows that 60% of interviewers decided on a candidate within 5-15 minutes. But first impressions can be deceiving and are usually completely irrelevant to performance and competency. Especially since they are based on factors such as a handshake, tone of voice, or lack of eye contact.
3. Have diverse hiring teams
By having recruiters with different backgrounds and experiences, the hiring process will become more inclusive and less biased. A positive side effect that occurs when bias is mitigated is diversity. Today we know that having a diverse work environment will increase both productivity and creativity. This is because companies that are dominated by one type of people will have a collective blind spot and this could add up to tunnel vision.
4. Make inclusion a part of your employer brand
Find ways to communicate your commitment to inclusion to different groups of applicants. Be honest if your organization is not yet where you want to be and let people know what your plans for supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion are.
5. Use AI to collect objective candidate data
AI can gather large amounts of data to assist recruiters in comparing applications. Humans are… human! It is difficult for a human interviewer to assess all candidates without bias or preconceived ideas about whether a candidate will fit into an organization. AI is objective so any analysis will be scientifically factual. It can also deal with volumes of work much more quickly. In an industry where speed is key to hiring the best talent, it makes sense for organizations to become early adopters of the technology as AI can reduce the time to hire by many days.
Today, several software can help assess blind resumes. In addition to chatbots that can be used to screen applicants. But until now, there haven’t been any HR-tech tools, that could take away bias from the interview. So we developed Tengai, an innovative screening meeting that combines conversational AI and an unbiased recruitment methodology. To ensure that Tengais' framework is 100% unbiased, we asked psychometric experts to test the interview and validate the assessment. The results show that Tengai can conduct objective interviews, assess work performance, and contribute to a more unbiased interview process.
We developed Tengai's interview to be rewarding, efficient and convenient for candidates.
Sinisa Strbac, CPO at Tengai
4. What are unconscious biases?
A cognitive bias is a misstep, a systematic error, in thinking, assessing, collecting, processing, or interpreting information that affects the decision or judgment we make. It’s a pattern of deviation from standards in judgment, whereby inferences may be created unreasonably. People create their own subjective social reality from their own perceptions and their view of the world may dictate their behavior. Cognitive biases are a result of human processing limitations, coming about because of an absence of appropriate mental mechanisms, or just from human limitations in information processing
Bias and prejudice are usually considered to be closely related. Prejudice is prejudgement or forming of an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case. It’s often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments towards people or a person because of their gender, political position, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, or other personal characteristics. Prejudice can also refer to unfounded beliefs and may include any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. Here are examples of common prejudice:
Ageism – discrimination due to an individual’s age, whether they are old or young.
Classism – discrimination due to an individual’s social class, “upper-class”, “lower-class” etc.
Lookism – discrimination on the basis of physical appearance and attractiveness.
Racism – consists of ideologies based on a desire to dominate or a belief in the inferiority of another race.
Sexism – discrimination due to a person’s sex or gender.
5. Common biases to look out for
1. Similarity bias. One of the most common bias effects in recruiting is that we tend to like people that resemble ourselves over people that are different from us. It’s human nature to want to surround ourselves with people we like and feel we have things in common with. And the work environment is no different. Because you want to be sure that you’ll get on with whomever you’re going to be spending a third of your day working alongside. This bias often happens when a recruiter hires candidates with similar traits or characteristics. Even when those traits aren’t correlated with job performance.
2. Confirmation bias. When we make a judgment about another person, we subconsciously look for evidence to back up our own opinions of that person. Even when we make snap decisions based on perceived truths, we spend the rest of the time, subconsciously or not, trying to justify our bias. We might ask irrelevant questions, trying to elicit answers that support our initial assumption about the candidate. This tends to happen when we want to believe that our instincts are right. Or that our assessment of the candidate is correct.
3. Conformity bias. This bias occurs when our decision-making can be affected by group peer pressure. Conformity bias can cause individuals to sway their opinion of a candidate to match the opinion of the majority. The problem is that the majority is not always right. This may cause your team to miss out on an excellent candidate because individual opinions become muddled in a group setting.
4. Beauty bias. This is the view that beautiful people are more successful. It comes down to how our brains are hard-wired. We tend to think that the most handsome individual will be the most successful. Beauty bias can be linked to the anchoring bias in that it can be common for recruiters to try and fill a role by finding a candidate who has a similar appearance to the person leaving because they subconsciously believe that’s how a person looks, affecting how they will perform in the job.
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