5 Effective Ways To Reduce Hiring Bias Now

As humans, we are essentially wired to judge other people. It is nearly impossible to exist in a vacuum with zero preconceived notions – if we see someone walking towards us holding a knife, for example, we would likely feel afraid or concerned. On a much less extreme level, we may also be conditioned to judge people based on their names, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders or other more subliminal factors that characterise them. This can be dangerous during the hiring process, when qualified candidates might be rejected based on subconscious biases from the hiring manager.


5 (five) Effective Ways of Reducing Hiring Bias:

  • Blind CVs

If all identifying features – such as name, photograph, race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin – are removed from candidates’ CVs or Profile, then the chance of bias prior to the interview stage is reduced. It has been shown that ‘ethnic’ sounding names tend to receive fewer interviews than traditionally ‘white’ names. This may be due to discrimination from hiring managers, either conscious or unconscious. That said, there is still the chance for bias based on the schools or universities attended by the candidate.

  • Standardised Recruitment Processes

Another potential pitfall associated with hiring bias is different hiring standards for each candidate. Perhaps you may ask certain candidates easier questions than you would ask others. This could be caused by unconscious bias, which could lead you to unintentionally customise the interviews for each candidate. Although a bespoke model occasionally has its value, it opens a company up to the risk of accusations of discrimination – and in many cases, this could be accurate. A clear, standardised process can ensure that every candidate has an equal chance of obtaining the role, as long as hiring bias has not affected this process, as well.

  • Understand Your Own Bias

Research has shown that there are two types of bias in job descriptions: Explicit (Conscious) bias and Implicit (Unconscious) bias. Explicit biases are ones that we can control and are aware of, such as Racism for example.  Implicit biases, on the other hand, are our unconscious perceptions, stereotypes, and beliefs we have developed from our past experiences and influences and can be in direct contradiction to a person’s espoused beliefs and values. This type is often more subtle than explicit bias, more difficult to call out or identify.

As stated, bias is nearly impossible to avoid. We are adaptable creatures by nature, and our entire lives have been spent learning how to survive in any situation. The media, past experience, educated assumptions… All of these factors contribute to our own unconscious biases. It is crucial to train all employees in recognising their biases, in order to avoid relying on them during the hiring process.

  • Remove Biased Language From Your Job Descriptions

Carefully examine your writing of job descriptions and remove biased language. Everyday words like “guys” are acceptable in speech. However, using the word “guys” in job descriptions, creates gender-biased. Biased language has serious effects on diversity. In fact, Daniel Gaucher’s research showed that gendered language in job descriptions prevents women from applying. The solution is simple, use some simple tools to prevent and reduce gender bias.

  • Utilise Diversity Panels

Affinity bias is what it sounds like: we gravitate toward people like ourselves in appearance, beliefs, and background. It makes us favour people who we feel a connection or similarity to. I challenge you to look out for it the next time you meet someone. If they went to the same university as you, don’t you suddenly like them a little bit more?

Prevent affinity bias by having multiple people from varied backgrounds interact with candidates during the interview stage.

In 2014, Intel require that a panel of interviewers for any new hire include at least two women and/or members of underrepresented minorities, since then it has seen the diversity of new hires climb dramatically. In 2016, 45.1 percent were women or people of colour, up from 31.9 percent in 2014. It’s all part of Intel’s goal to create an employee population that fully represents the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities in the overall technology workforce by 2020.

Diversity Panels are powerful tools and are easy to put together. If you don’t know where to start, the Jobseekrs® Team are here to help.

As many “man made” anti-bias mechanisms remain tainted by bias, unbiased technology might be the answer. Jobseekrs® aims to combat bias in the hiring process by crafting a new and impartial job-site.

“In a nutshell, enriching your employee pool with representatives of different genders, races, and nationalities is key for boosting your company’s joint intellectual potential. Creating a more diverse workplace will help to keep your team members’ biases in check and make them question their assumptions. At the same time, we need to make sure the organisation has inclusive practices so that everyone feels they can be heard. All of this can make your teams smarter and, ultimately, make your organisation more successful, whatever your goals.”

Heidi Grant, Director of Research & Development, Learning at EY

& Associate Director of Columbia’s Motivation Science Center

AboutJamaal Brathwaite
Founder & CEO at Jobseekrs® | Innovator | Diversity & Inclusion Advocate

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