Subconscious bias influences your daily decision making. As a hiring professional, this includes which candidates you decide to have join your team. Because you want fair, reliable hiring outcomes, you need to understand how your unconscious bias can affect your hiring decisions. You also must take steps to ensure your choices depend on candidates’ qualifications and fit for the role, not on implicit beliefs you may have about candidates as individuals.
Here are six ways to avoid subconscious bias in the hiring process.
1. Train Employees on Bias
Share information on subconscious bias with everyone involved in the hiring process. Have them complete surveys from the Harvard Business School’s Implicit Project and similar organizations to recognize and measure their biases. Then, use online training sources such as Google’s unconscious bias training to encourage employees to challenge and overcome their assumptions.
2. Write Gender-Neutral Job Descriptions
Include gender-neutral words in your job descriptions. Women are less likely to apply for jobs posted with traditionally masculine words such as “independent,” “driven,” or “leading.” Similarly, men are less likely to apply to for jobs posted with traditionally feminine words such as “support,” “cooperate,” or “interpersonal.” Use tools such as Textio or Gender Decoder for Job Ads to use gender-neutral words in your job descriptions.
3. Implement a Blind Resume Review System
Remove all demographic-related information from resumes. This includes candidates’ names, photos, and other information that may indicate a particular ethnic group or gender. Use a scoring system to evaluate resumes in the same manner. You may assign a set number of points for specific educational credentials, skills, or levels of experience. Assess candidates based on their resume information rather than whom they are perceived to be.
4. Standardize Interview Questions
Ask candidates the same interview questions. This provides a fair, consistent basis to evaluate their answers and qualifications. If candidates volunteer any information protected under the Employment Equity Act, including details relating to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information, remind the interview panel to disregard it.
5. Diversify Recruitment Panels
Create an interview panel of diverse employees. If only the hiring manager has a say in who gets hired, they may overlook qualified candidates in favor of ones similar to themselves. Encourage the panel to share feedback on candidates to help choose the right one.
6. Continuously Monitor Your Hiring Process
Review your hiring process on an ongoing basis. Be sure unconscious bias isn’t showing up so you get effective results. For instance, if you find you’re still receiving or hiring the same number of candidates from one gender as you were before, check whether your job descriptions still contain traditional words or phrases drawing that gender more than the other. Find ways to make the process fairer for everyone.
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