5 Steps you can take to reduce recruitment bias
As the shortage of women within Engineering and STEM industries continues, is it time for businesses to start taking a closer look at their recruitment process for recruitment biases?
What is recruitment bias?
Recruitment biases are formed by a person’s own life experiences. We all have subconscious preferences that have been formed over our lifetimes for the way things are done, the people we spend time with, and the way we perceive the world.
Importantly, recruitment bias doesn’t just refer to race, ethnicity or gender. Biases can focus on a personal preference for introversion or extroversion, age, political preference, or any number of factors.
While it may seem silly that someone wouldn’t hire someone because of their own beliefs, the simple fact is that people make decisions with inherent biases every single day. When it comes to recruitment, these biases can have an impact on the interviewers’ perception of a candidate, which can have an impact on their ability to get a job.
In fact, one study found that by simply changing the name from John to Jennifer on two identical CVs, Senior Scientists were more likely to perceive John as being more competent, and would select him for a hypothetical position.
Obviously, to give everyone an equal opportunity, it’s important to take these biases into account during the recruitment process.
How can you reduce recruitment bias?
While there are steps that can be taken to reduce recruitment bias, businesses are often not doing enough to reduce or eliminate these predispositions during the recruitment process, so what steps can be taken to reduce recruitment bias?
- Create a person specification
Creating a specification for the person you’re hiring not only gives a clearer picture of the skills and experience that will be important for the role, but also ensures you’re hiring someone based solely on how well they fit the role.
Too often a hiring manager will have a “feeling” about a particular candidate that will affect their decision of whether or not they hire them.
Eliminating this option helps to significantly reduce the chance for biases throughout the entire recruitment process.
- Screen CVs blind
Another way to remove some biases and predispositions is to screen candidate’s CVs without any personal information.
As mentioned above, simply having a different name on identical CVs can have an impact on a person’s perception of that candidate, so removing personal information ensures hiring managers make decisions about candidates based on their work experience and achievements alone; rather than being influenced by their name, date of birth, or even the area they live in.
- Use a diverse panel
During the interview itself, using a diverse panel will help to reduce bias as it reduces the likelihood of one person’s bias affecting the outcome of the interview.
A diverse panel will also have different biases to begin with which should, in theory, help to cancel each other out to some degree.
While it may be tempting to create a large panel for all future interviews, it’s important to make sure the candidate still has a good experience.
Statistically speaking, a panel of 30 people may well be more neutral than a panel of 5 people, but that’s hardly going to be a nice experience for the person interviewing for the position!
- Structure your interviews
Bias can also occur because of a lack of structure within the interview itself.
For example, one candidate may get the chance to talk more at length about their hobbies, while focussing less on their relevant work experience, simply because they have something in common with one of the interviewers.
Ultimately, this could result in that person being offered the job because they got lucky with the way the interview was structured; even if the other candidate actually had more relevant experience for the role.
Structuring interviews consistently means everyone is given as equal of an opportunity as possible.
- Use a recruitment agency
Using a recruitment agency can help to eliminate a lot of the recruitment bias from the sourcing and screening process because their job is to find the best candidate for the role.
Agencies will also send candidates across without contact information on their CVs, meaning your managers focus is solely on the skills and experience a candidate has to offer.
Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate bias from the recruitment process, and ultimately, once a set of equally skilled candidates are selected for interviews, there comes a point where a person’s personality plays a factor in how well they will fit in with the company culture.
It is important, however, that every applicant for the role is given the same opportunity to get to that point, to ensure that these final decisions really are the best people for the business, regardless of their race, religion, or gender.
You can read more about Entech’s Equality & Diversity Policy here.