A Yale experiment found that male and female scientists that were trained on objective hiring still preferred hiring and paying men more.

A UChicago and MIT experiment found that applicants with white sounding names received 50% more job interview requests.

A Study by Harvard business review found that if there is only one woman and three men in your hiring pool, the woman has 0% chance of getting hired. 

Dice found that 68% of baby boomers felt uncomfortable applying for jobs related to technology and believed that they would not be as advanced as younger generations.

As human beings, we are constantly making decisions, especially in managerial and leadership positions. The number of decisions can go up to 35,000 a day! One decision every 2.5 seconds! To help us deal with taking that many decisions, our brains employ unconscious processes. These processes spare us time and effort in the decision making process but may be flawed due to unconscious biases. Unconscious biases are defined as social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.

Research shows that the hiring process at several organizations has fallen into a cycle of unconscious biases including racism, ageism, and sexism that play a big role in who gets hired. These biases may cause recruiters to favor one person or group over another without any valid reasons. If left unchecked, these biases can shape an organization’s culture and norms.

What are the Biases involved in the hiring process?

Many biases are involved in the decisions surrounding the hiring processes. to name a few: Gender Bias, Generational Bias, Confirmation Bias,  and Halo or Horn Effect.

Gender Bias: 

“unintentional preference for one gender over the other.” 

You might think that with all awareness campaigns and efforts put to abolish gender preference in the corporate world, yet researchers have found that gender bias occurred even when companies had gone through anti-bias training.

Generational Bias:

“Age or generational bias in the hiring process involves being biased against or towards a candidate based on their age.”

There is a reason why candidates of certain ages, whether “too young” or “too old” find themselves afraid to apply for certain positions or any position and that is the unconscious discrimination against them. 

Confirmation Bias: 

“Confirmation bias comes in when a recruiter or hiring manager analyzes or processes information in a way that confirms their own beliefs or assumptions about a person.”

Just like the rest of us, recruiters are guilty of passing judgment quickly and then we spend our time consciously or unconsciously trying to find justifications for our biases. Recruiters even start asking questions for which the answers support their biases. This might seem exaggerated but in fact, a study has found that within 15 minutes of the interview, 60 % of interviewers would have made a decision about the candidate. Some even before meeting them. 

Halo or Horn Effect: 

“It occurs when the recruiter forgoes proper investigation of a candidate’s background, choosing instead to focus too heavily on one positive (halo) or negative (horn) aspect of a candidate.”

How can you combat these biases in your recruitment process?

  1. Be aware of the existence of biases and educate your recruiters about them.

The first step to “solve an issue” is to recognize it is there. Once the recruiter realizes that biases are common to all of us and that they are more involved in the details of our lives than we might think or like, it will be easier for them to identify theirs. The more aware and trained they are the less they will unconsciously use these biases.

  1. Set diversity goals

Make diversity and inclusion a top priority that is clear for every employee. Set diversity goals within your company. This way, every time there is a hiring process happening within the company, recruiters can refer back to goals and see where they stand.

  1. Do blind resume reviews

The numbers I have previously laid out for you show how easy it is to be biased even before meeting the person. This happens while reading your candidate’s resumes. To avoid this debacle and make the process more objective, change the way the resumes are read. There is plenty of softwares you can use that will hide out the demographics qualities of every candidate and only display to you the most relevant data.

  1. Standardize interviews and give a work sample test

Finally, an easy step you can also implement in your process is making sure the interviewers have a set of specific questions they ask the candidates that make it to this round. This way the halo or horn effect can be limited for example. Even more, another way to avoid subjectivity is to give the participants each a chance to show you hands – on, what they can offer through work sample tests.

  1. Utilize assessments to your advantage

Assessments are an excellent way to address biases. Assessments can improve the process of hiring and selection by accurately identifying job applicants before the interview and allowing recruiters to make scientifically informed judgments and build an organization of top performing employees.

Unconscious biases will always be present to a certain extent and avoiding them fully is not possible. However, it is essential for organizations to provide adequate training programs that address these biases, and to ensure that all employees are mindful of the biases that could affect recruitment at all stages. By setting up human resources processes that embed bias awareness within them, every organization can be one step closer to ensuring that the right people are in the right place and that diversity and inclusion practices are implemented.


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