4 Tips to Reduce Unconscious Bias in Hiring

Diversity in the workplace has become one of the biggest issues faced by companies today, particularly within the Tech industry. Interviewer’s bias in hiring stands out as a potential culprit. As has been shared multiple times before, the way hiring is done today is prone to bias. Research has shown we typically make up our mind in the first 4 minutes of an interview and spend the next 50 minutes confirming our 4-minute snap judgment. What we end up hiring is a “mini-me,” people who remind us of ourselves.

A diverse workforce is believed to have multiple benefits, including improved company performance, candidate attraction and employee engagement. The explanation is that a more diverse group encompasses more experiences and perspectives on how to run a business and serve a wide variety of customer needs. Companies with diverse workforces are more likely to attract candidates and are perceived to be better at building psychological safety for employees to share, innovate and collaborate. Multiple studies are now linking quantitative data to these benefits.

The question facing many executives today is how to improve diversity in the workplace. It should start at the top of the funnel – diversity hiring. The goal of diversity hiring is to identify and remove potential biases in sourcing, screening and shortlisting candidates that may ignore, turn off or accidentally discriminate against qualified candidates.

4 Tips to Avoid Unconscious Biases in Hiring:

  1. Analyze your diversity hiring data and understand potential bottlenecks. You need to have a clear understanding of your strength and challenges in candidate diversity throughout the funnel before deciding on moves.
  2. Standardize your criteria for screening based on competency. Many of the criteria used in current screening, such as candidates’ education background, prior employer or personal connection, limit candidates to those who are alike current employees. There are a couple of tools you can use to set better screening criteria:
    • Pre-hire assessment – the candidate scores won’t differ significantly for minority groups in a well-validated assessment.
    • Blind hiring – removing personal information about a candidate from the recruiters that can lead to unconscious bias about the candidate.
  3. Intelligent shortlisting your candidates. There are existing shortlisting software tools such as Koru and Restless Bandit that learn about existing employees’ experience, skills, and other criteria, and objectively and consistently applies this criteria across all candidates, which reduces problems related to unconscious biases and accidental discrimination.
  4. Evaluate your diversity hiring metrics. Set a diversity hiring goal to evaluate whether the techniques applied above are effective and re-iterate your process.