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Hiring employees to grow and scale isn't something that started today. It's been there for decades. If you ask any recruiter, “What are they looking for in a new hire,” the answer would probably be the same as it used to be in the early 2000s. 

We want to hire a great person. We want to hire someone who best fits the job. That's how they settle when asked about their primary goals around the hiring process. But do you know a vast body of research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair? A Yale University study found that both male and female scientists who took training courses on hiring objectively failed to do so. The results might shock you. They preferred to hire men over women and viewed them as more skilled. In fact, they were even willing to offer around $4000 more per year in salary!

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Let's take a few examples to learn about this better!

  • More than 60% of interviewers decide on a candidate within 15 minutes after the meeting. Surprisingly, some even do it before the interview even happens. 
  • Many recruiters progress or decline candidates based on any particular educational background. 
  • Many interviewers tend to favour candidates they build a rapport with throughout the process. 

As humans, we are hardwired to make certain decisions. That's how, subconsciously, we make hundreds of decisions every day. Your most recent one might be: Should I go ahead with this article? This often influences how we perceive reality. Hence, you must look to reduce hiring bias, or it might cost you!

Why do we say so? Keep reading, and you will find out!

Also, Read: The Unseen Barriers to Women Leadership: Offering Solutions to Break the Bias

Hiring Bias: It's time to approach this problem before it's too late

Businesses pursuing gender and racial diversity achieve 25% higher profitability than those that don't. Another study by Harvard Business Review found that diverse workforces are happier and more productive than others. However, by diversity, no one proactively goes out and hires more women or more people from minority backgrounds. What everyone means is reducing or eliminating hiring bias. 

But before we brush up on the tips to reduce hiring bias, here are some forms of bias(es) that affect your recruitment process. 

  • The Halo effect is a type of cognitive bias which influences our thoughts about a person or his/her character. For instance, many believe that a nice or friendly person might be clever, witty, or good at their job.
  • The Horn effect means the first impressions create an influence. For example, if a person is too loud, many assume they might not be good at their job. It overshadows their traits, beliefs, or actions. 
  • Leniency effect where you regard some applicants higher because of your own personal context. 
  • The contrast effect is where the brains use comparisons to keep people in context. For instance, if you like someone better than the other, you are more likely to hire them. 
  • Confirmation bias results in judging the candidate based on our preconceived notions and beliefs. In this case, you seek out information that confirms your beliefs, resulting in skewing your judgment.
  • Conformity bias results in forming an opinion when you see others favor a person. You tend to fit in. 
  • Personal similarity bias results in favoring people who we find similar to us. 

Honestly, it is quite difficult to avoid any unconscious bias completely. However, if you give enough training for bias and start being mindful of the bias, it will definitely help you in many ways. 

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Here are the top 5 Ways to eliminate bias in your hiring process:

  • Start with your job descriptions: Job listings are the first step where a candidate makes the first impression about your company's value system and vision. Even if you use certain subtle words, they might profoundly impact the application pool. Research shows that words like “competitive” and “determined” are masculine words that result in women perceiving that they don't belong here. Being mindful about the job postings while creating them will allow you to explore and find more eligible candidates. 
  • Level the playing field by going for blind resume review: If you want to avoid any demographic characteristics, you must look at what every person brings to the table. That's where software programs and technology allow you to create a blind process and improve your chances of including the most relevant candidates in your interview pool. For instance, Pinpoint, Textio, Blendoor are a few options that companies can leverage and remove bias during the hiring process. 
  • Structure interviews: Research confirms that when you go with unstructured interviews, you often hire with a bias. But having the same set of defined questions for a role will help you focus on factors that impact performance rather than other things that result in bias.  
  • Leveraging AI-powered tools: If you want accurate, unbiased, and predictive candidate data, AI could be helpful. Many companies like Nestle Novartis are harnessing the power of AI in their recruiting strategy to increase candidate engagement and eliminate bias. 
  • Set diversity goals: At the end of every hiring process, keep track of how well you did it and align it with your diversity goals. This will allow you to evaluate whether you are moving in the right direction. 

Also, Read: Maternal Wall Bias at Workplace: Here’s What Organizations Must do!

Final Thoughts: Move Beyond the Hidden Traps

Hiring a candidate who is the right fit for your company is of utmost importance if you want to grow as a brand. Your focus must be to find someone with the right combination of knowledge, experience, competency, and personal attributes. 

  • What technical skills do they have?
  • What is their education?
  • Do they have effective leadership experience?
  • Are they emotionally intelligent?
  • Are they capable of bringing a change?
  • Do they fit the job description?

You must find out everything around this information and make your final call. Not only will this help you find the best person for the job. It will also improve your diversity goals and business revenue. After all, if you will have the best people at work, you will have a competitive advantage that no one else will. So, are you all set to eliminate hiring bias today?


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