We tend to make biased decisions on a day-to-day basis without realizing it. All that is mostly harmless and can be ignored to some extent. However, in case of the recruitment process for a company, it is an extremely bad practice. It tones down the spirit of a workplace and instills doubt in mind of the future candidates.
To help you with ensuring fairness in your evaluations and preventing favors to any particular group, we have compiled a few ways to maintain clarity in the hiring process. But before that, let’s see what biases we often make but tend to ignore.
Types of Bias We Unconsciously Make
• Overconfidence in own judgment
Often, the recruiters who have previous experiences of making good hires, go with their gut instinct and believe their judgment is the best one. They don’t rely much on what qualifications the candidate actually has. This kind of overconfidence can lead to a disastrous result by choosing an incompetent member for the company.
• Hypothetical correlation
Recruiters may grow a habit of correlating certain behaviors or events to good job performance. They tend to make this mistake from memories and expect the same outcome if the exact elements of that memory are present.
For example, in the medical sector, while the patients are exhibiting chaotic behavior, nurses are often found to say “it must be a full moon night”. The two situations have no correlation with them but the nurses believe one thing leads to the other.
The same situation happens in recruitment areas where the officials depend on surrounding elements or something equally vague to determine if the candidate is capable.
• Halo effect
Halo effect is a tendency to believe that because something happened before and brought good results, this new situation will also lead to the same consequences. We don’t need to tell you that this is wrong, but this is a very common form of bias which many of us unconsciously make.
In the hiring process as well, this scenario is very familiar where the recruiters proceed to select a candidate solely because a previous candidate they liked turned out fine. They again ignore all the technical incapabilities this applicant might have and believe in their cognitive bias.
• Horns effect
This is the exact opposite of Halo effect. Due to horns effect, one tends to focus on a single lacking the candidate has and completely ignores all other skills he might possess.
For example, an applicant attending your interview board seems to be nervous. From there, you are drawing the conclusion that this person does not have the confidence to carry out tasks.
He might well be among the top contenders for a programming contest and holder of a high CGPA, both of which would be mentioned in his CV. But you will ignore these points because you have already made up your mind that he cannot do the job.
Because of horns effect, you might be missing out on some great candidates or gemstones for the workplace. Not all people have the same treasure skills, so they should be judged fairly keeping both their strengths and weaknesses in mind.
This is also a pretty common bias evident almost everywhere. Similarity bias is the situation where you are selecting someone because that person and you share some similar characteristics. You two might be fans of the same hobby, game series or movie franchise. Naturally, this will have an effect on your final decision to some extent. But when it comes to recruiting an able team player for your business, seeking out personal similarities is never a good.
Affinity bias refers to the occurrences where the candidate is chosen because he shares the same hometown or college with the recruiters. The reasons can also include a resemblance between this contender and someone you admire. It is a pretty common practice in the recruitment industry to fall for this bias, or sometimes, to make this biased choice consciously! As social beings, we will definitely have a desire to see familiar faces in the workplace. But from a professional point of view, that is entirely wrong and unethical. The recruited candidate should be a capable member for the company first and foremost. Everything else comes second.
Don’t lie to yourself saying this is not something that would affect you. We are human beings – a born admirer of beauty. Wherever we find it, we want to capture it and make it a part of our daily lives. Similarly, in the office area, we would love to have a good-looking member around. However, good looks do not automatically translate to good technical abilities! No matter how physically attractive you find a person to be, it should not cloud your judgments in the hiring process.
If there is no particular set of measurement to rely on, many times the recruiters will judge the current CV at hand based on the previous one. If the last CV seemed better than this one, this CV is bad, and if this is better than the previous CV, we have found the winner! This practice does not work in favor of the company and does not ensure proper judgment of all the applicants.
Ways to Eliminate Bias in Recruitment
If your words are considered final in the recruitment process, you cannot let bias get into your head at all. So, you need to be completely honest with yourself, look for even the slightest possible biases you can make and confront about it to self. If you are not sure how to handle it, take help of the Implicit Association Test by Harvard, Washington and Virginia Universities. This will test your capabilities and you can know many unknown traits of yourself from its results.
2. Carefully written job descriptions
While crafting your job description, go through it to look for any biased words. They can be hinting at a particular gender, race or similar groups. In fact, there are more than 25,000 biased phrases which aim at only one gender, as discovered by Textio. However, most of these findings are based on the age-old stereotypical concepts of men and women. Nevertheless, it is good business practice to keep your job description as neutral as possible and only use words which can apply to all kinds of people. You can test the job description by evaluating it through Textio which will let you optimize it correctly.
3. Same evaluation process for all CVs
One way to remove any possibility of being biased on recruitments is setting a standard evaluation process for all CVs. You can make a checklist of all the technical requirements you want to see on the candidate’s resume and judge it based only on those criteria. Take help of other experiences HR people and software related to such processes to prepare the checklist. Then develop a scoring mechanism where all CVs will be marked depending on those points. This method will force you to not take the candidate’s name, religion, gender or photos into account.
4. Same questions for all interviews
The recruitment team of your company can sit together and come up with questions which can truly evaluate the candidate’s capabilities. While doing so, you all have to keep in mind the business needs of this job position, what particular skills it requires and similar points of productivity. There should also be some ice-breakers and casual questions, in the beginning, to make the interviewee feel at ease.
But remember to stick to these questions only when the candidate comes through the door. With the specified questionnaire in hand, you will be bound to keep your personal preferences aside and judge them all equally.
5. Diversity in interviewers panel
Having only white people or male members on the interview panel is a bias in itself. If the current powers of authority have established bias among themselves, we cannot expect the result of their candidate evaluation to be impartial!
The hiring manager needs to be the one to resolve this issue by setting up a panel promoting diversity. There should be a balanced number of male and female members, inclusion of both black and white people, presence of different religions, and so on.
6. Customized skill test
Prepare a customized skill test in line with the job position in question for all the candidates. You put in there every element of assessment you feel is necessary for the role. Then each participant will prove his or her capability through this test and all of them can be scored following a certain marking system.
7. Diversity goals
At the beginning of a fiscal year or whatever time period you prefer, make a list of diversity goals you want the company to achieve by the year-end. This will take time, but it will also let the employee diversity be in check. You can indicate if the situation is getting better or worse, and make future plans respectively.
8. Softwares for blind reviews
There are certain softwares available now which are programmed to ignore all demographic information like gender, age, race etc. They focus solely on the technical skills and relevant job experience information. With these systems, you can also get numerical analysis on the applicants at once, making a clear and concise picture of their abilities. Some of the most used ones are Gild, Textio, Doxa, Entelo and GapJumpers.
Here is a checklist you can follow the next time before conducting the recruitment process:
• List the required skills
• Include neutral adjectives only in job descriptions
• Prepare an evaluation test and its marking system
• Set a diverse interview panel
• Prepare an interview questionnaire and stick to it
• Take help of softwares to find the best candidate
Make sure you have put a tick mark on each point of this checklist and we can assure you, the resulting candidate will undoubtedly be the best one and will prove himself or herself to be an asset for your team.