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How can we overcome unconscious bias in the recruitment process?

How can we overcome unconscious bias in the recruitment process?

Every time we make a decision, our social background, personal and cultural values, and life experiences influence our reasoning. This is a natural and unintended process which helps us to make day-to-day decisions in order to navigate life. However when it comes to recruitment, this process, known as unconscious bias, can unfairly influence the process.  This has the potential not only to disregard the best candidate, but can result in discrimination when it relates to a protected characteristic. So how can we overcome it in the recruitment process?

Take time to fully assess each candidate’s capabilities during the decision-making processes. Choosing the right candidate is more important than making a quick decision and will help you to avoid snap judgements or opinions. Keep an open mind. Remember: the things you value in a person may differ from those of someone else in the business.

Think about each person as an individual and judge them on their merits. You should avoid comparing one candidate to another until the very end of the recruitment process, when it’s time to make a job offer. To prevent selective observation, look at them from all sides and justify your appraisal with evidence.

Include a variety of people in recruitment processes. Other people’s views and input help you spot and address your own preconceptions, which in turn helps reduce recruitment bias.

Change your outlook to prevent attribution bias. Everyone should aim to assess others more positively – champion the successes and don’t magnify the weaknesses.

Improve your team’s awareness of equality and diversity by using training courses. From theatre workshops to online modules, the aim is to teach employees the benefits of a multicultural workplace. This helps you recognise any biases you hold that could prevent the building of an equal and diverse team.

Use written notes to record your impressions of candidates. Doing so helps you compare and collate ideas with others in the group, as well as questioning each other’s biases. This reduces the phenomenon of groupthink and helps you gain a well-rounded view of candidates, which in turn allows you to reach a fairer and more balanced decision.

Unconscious bias has an adverse effect on workplace chemistry and bad hiring decisions cost money. So be honest with yourself… we all have biases. By actively looking for ways to expand and revise your views you will avoid recruiting the candidate that hiring managers have some affinity for at the expense of losing the right person.

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