Three ways to reduce unconscious bias in recruitment

Every organisation wants to hire the best talent but unconscious bias can often get in the way. In our latest blog, Meraki Talent, take a look at what issues might be occurring in your recruitment process and how you can reduce the bias to ensure you hire the best candidates.

Unconscious biases (also known as implicit biases) are attitudes and thoughts that are held subconsciously and affect the way we feel and think about others around us. This can impact the hiring process meaning you are restricting diversity and potentially missing out on the best candidates for the job.

Diverse and inclusive workplaces have significant benefits. A 2020 McKinsey study found companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity significantly outperform their competitors. Moreover, in sectors where there is a skills shortage or difficulty to attract candidates such as IT, appealing to a wider talent pool is essential.

So, what can you do to reduce bias from your recruitment process?

Removing bias can be difficult but advances in understanding and technology can help combat this. There are both human and technology focused methods of reducing prejudice to help you improve your hiring process.

Here are some areas to consider:


Job Avert Writing

When writing your job adverts you might be using gender bias in your language and this can have an impact on the recruitment process. There are plenty of research studies that show women are less likely to apply for jobs that use ‘masculine-coded’ words like “driven” or “ninja”. Online tools are available to highlight gender bias language and help you provide a more balanced job advert.

When writing job adverts, it is important to consider the skills attributes that are essential for the role, rather than only listing generic skills. By including non-essential requirements, you could end up missing out on the strongest candidates. Remember, to appeal to a wider pool of candidates, it is OK to state explicitly that neurodiverse applicants are welcome. This can help in recruiting for jobs such as IT roles. 

Biases are not just limited to ethnicity or race but can exist towards any social group including areas like age, educational background, weight and many more. Most of the time hiring managers are unaware of these biases which makes it difficult to not let them hinder the recruitment process.


Consider Blind Applications

CVs are used to filter your candidates to the most relevant, but they provide information that can lead to unconscious bias. Consider removing details such as name as this can hint to nationality, race and gender, as well as removing age indicators from your applications or CVs. Moreover, if you are looking at widening participation - that can be common in graduate recruitment, law and finance - you may want to remove school and university name, or even degree classification from CVs. There will be technical solutions that can do this for you, or your HR or Talent Acquisition team might be able to remove details.  We can do this for our clients here at Meraki Talent.


Revise Your Interview Process

Many hiring managers prefer an unstructured interview process to get a better understanding of a candidate, but this can make it more challenging to benchmark candidates. A structured process enables you to compare candidates. A diverse interview panel can help reduce any personal unconscious biases that can impact your decision-making process.

Disabilities of all types also come into play with unconscious bias. For example, neurodivergent individuals are often overlooked when compared to other minority groups, and this issue exists across multiple conditions.

Traditional job interviews can be problematic for some neurodivergent conditions like autism or dyspraxia. Autistic people can be prone to sensory processing issues, meaning a panel interview can be difficult to navigate as the candidate has to focus on several people’s communication at one time.

However, there are ways to adapt your interviewing techniques to help neurodivergent individuals. For example, instead of using a panel of interviewers, you could conduct a series of shorter interviews with one interviewer at a time. Of course, this comes down to if you are made aware of conditions early on in the recruitment process.

Finally, unconscious bias can be difficult to acknowledge but if hiring managers recognise that this is likely to be a factor in their hiring process, taking steps to reduce this bias will help improve diversity in your organisation and ensure you are hiring the best possible talent for your teams.