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How to remove unconscious bias from your hiring process

Every company wants to hire the best available talent, but could unconscious bias be getting in the way? We take a look at the tech and tools that can help remove bias from your recruitment process.

We all have our own unconscious biases – it’s human nature. But when it comes to recruiting the best new talent for your company it can be a hindrance.

To avoid this, companies around the world are turning to technology in a bid to boost the diversity of their workforce and ensure they hire the best individuals for their business.

We caught up with our Innovation Team to hear how new technology is being utilised to combat unconscious bias.

1. Introduce blind skills challenges

While CVs remain the most efficient way of introducing a hiring manager to prospective talent, there is certain information in CVs that can lead to unconscious bias. One way to address this is to encourage ‘blind applications’ that remove details like race, nationality, gender and age – all factors that can lead to biased decisions.

To help recruiters, start-up GapJumpers removes CVs from the application process entirely. Used by the BBC and The Guardian, GapJumpers allows employers to create bespoke tests that mimic the challenges of the job itself. Applications are then reviewed by the employers and interviews can be offered based on the scores received.

GapJumpers says 54% of its users are women, yet female workers account for 59% of the platform’s highest performers, highlighting its potential. And GapJumpers doesn’t just tackle gender imbalance; it can also eliminate bias created through educational and ethnic background, as well as age.

2. Remove gendered wording

How many of us have ever stopped and considered the inherent gender bias of the language we use every day? When it comes to crafting the perfect job description, the gender implications of words used can have a significant impact on the recruitment process.

Researchers have found that women are much less likely to apply to job descriptions that include ‘masculine-coded’ language such as “active”, “confident” and “driven.” Interestingly, the effect of feminine-coded words like “interpersonal”, “honest” and “support” on male applicants was found to be negligible.

The Robert Walters Group has created its own bespoke Adify tool to flag so-called gender bias in job adverts, which can then be removed. As Tom Lakin, senior innovation manager at Resource Solutions, our recruitment process outsourcing business, explains, “gender equality is a key priority for our clients, and Adify allows us to support our clients’ diversity goals.”

3. Make data-driven decisions

Another way to minimise the influence of your unconscious bias on your applicant selection process is to let intelligent data insights guide your decision-making process.

Tom recommends Entelo for clients “to surface new and diverse talent with the right skills quickly.” Favoured by Visa and Facebook, talent aggregator Entelo uses big data, predictive analytics and social signals to help hiring managers find and engage with talent. It allows recruiters and hiring managers to rank candidates against open vacancies and includes several features, like diversity filters and a ‘more likely to move’ function, which assesses the likelihood of candidates moving jobs.

Resource Solutions, our recruitment process outsourcing business, tested the benefits and functionality of Entelo by identifying and talent-pooling female talent underrepresented in Switzerland. By using the platform’s ‘more likely to move’ function, recruiters achieved a 60% response rate from candidates on LinkedIn – double what was expected.

4. Advertise roles through new channels

The future of online recruitment is definitely mobile, with statistics showing 82% of candidates already search for jobs on their smartphone. By 2021, experts predict 87% of all mobile internet traffic will be video, and with visual content getting an average of 1200% more shares than written content, it’s easy to see why.

A job description has long been the starting point for hiring managers, but with written content not gaining the cut-through needed on mobile devices, could the traditional job description soon make way altogether in favour of something more visual? Australian app, VideoMyJob, offers companies the chance to do just that.

The app enables a novel alternative to text-based job descriptions by allowing employers to write a script and record a video of themselves talking about the role, which can then be edited and shared on social media. Faye Walshe, Global Head of Innovation at Robert Walters Group, said: “VideoMyJob is an affordable and authentic service for even the smallest employers to create branded video job ads.”

5. Make your interview process structured

When interview time arrives, it might be tempting for hiring managers to favour an unstructured session in order to get a better feel for a candidate. But unstructured interviews can make it harder for hiring managers to fairly benchmark candidates, making it more likely that unconscious bias will creep in. Creating a structured process that tests all applicants in the same way ensures they’re all assessed against the same markers.

The simplest way to achieve this is to stick to a specific set of questions for every applicant – and remember not to diverge from them. This can help reduce subjectivity and allow candidates to be judged against others on the specific answers they give.

6. Have an interview panel

It might sound like unconscious bias can be difficult to remove without the help of the latest recruitment technology, but if you’re looking for a more human-based approach then consider introducing interview panels into your recruitment process.

Establishing a panel that includes a diverse set of colleagues (in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background and age) can ensure any personal unconscious biases are mitigated and help you to consider an applicant from a wider perspective and make a more informed decision.

Curbing unconscious bias

Ultimately, our unconscious bias is inescapable, but equipping your business with the right tools and processes can significantly reduce its impact on your recruitment process. While new technologies provide rich insights to help guide data-driven decision making, underpinning new tech with regular diversity training is key to helping hiring managers recognise and reduce their bias blind spots.

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