Avoiding unconscious bias while recruiting

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Bias in recruiting is more common than we think, and it is not usually malicious. Usually, it is subconsciously perpetrated by well-meaning professionals who enthusiastically champion the importance of diversity in organisations. There are numerous studies that prove diversity in a workplace makes tremendous business sense: it leads to better business performance, drives innovation and helps bring about a better understanding of a business’s consumer. Despite this most companies continue to struggle with both gender and cultural diversity with women occupying 18%, men of color occupying 12% and women of color occupying only 3% of c suite roles according to McKinsey’s 2017 Women in the Workplace study.

Our bias stems from our tendency as human beings to categorise our social environment, thereby creating social stereotypes about certain groups of people in our unconscious awareness

This is because we all bring unconscious bias to the workplace. Our bias stems from our tendency as human beings to categorise our social environment, thereby creating social stereotypes about certain groups of people in our unconscious awareness. Our unconscious bias stems from our beliefs about people around us and is incredibly difficult to let go of as it usually happens outside our controls and triggers our minds to make a quick judgement. However, being aware that we may be prone to a certain bias is the first step towards reducing its effect.

Reducing unconscious bias in a recruitment process can attract a much wider group of candidates and improve hiring outcomes.

Recruiters and hiring managers should be aware of these biases while recruiting:

1.

Gender Bias

Gender bias stems from the perceived mismatch between the “typical woman” and the requirements of jobs that historically were held by men and tends to occur be stronger in when recruiting for jobs where males are the majority of the workforce.

2.

Similarity Bias

Companies often prefer hiring candidates who’ve worked at specific companies or schools and may base their hiring on profiles of other successful employees. This carries the risk of restricting your talent pool to candidates with similar experiences, being prone to group think and curbing innovation.

3.

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.

4.

Halo effect

The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character. It stems from habitual tendency of people to rate attractive individuals more favorably for their personality traits or characteristics than those who are less attractive.

However, hiring diverse candidates is only the first step towards effecting positive change. Creating a culture of inclusiveness where each individual feels valued for their uniqueness is likely to create a more diverse workforce and keep it engaged, bringing about much better business outcomes for the company.

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