7 Ways to Remove Bias from your Recruitment Practice
To ensure your recruitment process remains competitive in the modern business environment, a robust diversity strategy and stringent methodology is essential. Without a strong direction and framework in place, achieving meaningful workforce diversity and inclusion will remain a goal.
One of the biggest obstacles of diversity is unconscious bias. We tend to identify with people who are similar to us and often make decisions based on social stereotypes that have formed outside our own conscious awareness. These biases occur organically and guide the personal and professional decisions we make in our everyday lives.
In a recent Diversity Survey*, Drake International found that 67% of employees thought their organisation could improve on diversity practices when it comes to attraction and selection of candidates.
While we can all agree that people should be assessed on the merit of their character and CV, and not on our familiarity with them, discrimination and exclusion remain prevalent in modern workforces.
So how do you mitigate bias in your recruitment process? We’ve put together seven simple tips to help remove bias from your recruitment process and achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
- Conduct an audit of your recruitment practices
Take the time to review your existing recruitment practices and look for any discriminating processes. This can include ensuring there is a standardised and consistent selection procedure, updating position descriptions to reflect the core qualities and skills required in the role, and review of the channels/mediums utilised to source talent.
Also consider the language used in your job advertisements, as innocuous phrases, can have a negative impact on candidates’ perception of the opportunity.
- Implement diversity training
According to Drake’s Diversity Survey, 39% of employees had not received any training on how to reduce potential hiring bias. As most bias is unconscious and largely unintentional, it can have damaging consequences on the decisions we make when recruiting talent.
Diversity training should not be limited to HR, hiring managers and senior management also need to understand how to promote diversity and inclusion in a company’s recruitment processes and cultural values. For the training to be successful, it needs to be implemented regularly and cover a company’s entire leadership structure.
- Phone screening prior to interviewing
Phone screens are less personal and thus naturally reduces bias. Screening by phone eliminates visual clues and prompts the interviewer to focus on candidates’ experience, technical skillset and character. As a result, ‘first impressions’ become less impactful and successful candidates are those that represented a strong alignment with the nominated job.
- Develop a work skill test
Work skill tests are designed to mimic key tasks candidates will be exposed to in the prospective role. These tests provide a strong indication of future job performance and provide an interviewer with objective results.
Skill tests are key to evaluating a high-volume of applicants and provide a great point of comparison and benchmark for excellence. At their core, these tests create a shift in focus from personality, background and education to candidates’ actual performance.
- Start using panel interviews
A diverse interview panel, such as gender, age and ethnicity, will lead to more informed and logical hiring decisions. According to Drake’s Diversity Survey, only 22.3% of employers use panel interviews as a part of their recruitment process to reduce bias. Panel interviews are a great method of removing hiring decisions based on a ‘gut feeling’.
- Standardise your interview questions
Interviews lacking structure or defined questions are unreliable for predicting job success. Each candidate should be asked the same set of defined questions so employers can focus on the key skills and experience required for the role. Certain questions should also be given an additional weighting, as some will provide valuable insight into the likely future performance. Drake Australia’s Diversity Survey found only 38% of companies are using structure interviews and standardised questioning as a part of their core process.
- Use a trusted recruitment agency
If you company’s diversity goals are falling short, you may need to consider using an external recruitment agency. Free from internal biases, recruitment agencies can manage the entire screening, recruitment and shortlisting process with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
Many recruitment agencies also offer unbundled services, meaning you can select specific parts of the recruitment process, i.e. candidate screening and interviewing, that you want managed. Delivered on a stand-alone basis, unbundled services often represent a better value for money solution for companies.
A company’s success or performance is largely based on its people and culture. Companies with a diverse and robust recruitment process perform better when it comes to innovation, retention, decision making and profitability.
These seven steps should give you the insight and tools you need to kickstart your new recruitment process. We recognise that creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a journey and it starts with incremental and progressive changes.
For more information on best practice when it comes to recruitment and selection, contact Drake on 0800 111 4558.
* Drake International conducted a Diversity Survey in Australia in 2019, with 440 respondents across a broad range of roles and industries, answering a series of questions on diversity and inclusion.