The Promising Technique That’s Helping Companies Eliminate Unconscious Bias

Posted by Talent Intelligence on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

Could altering a few recruiting process steps help level the playing field?

stock-photo-digital-composition-of-coupl-2222779-835521-edited.pngHiring biases are unethical, can create a poor candidate experience and could cause a company to lose out on qualified candidates; yet they can be inadvertently introduced into the interview process in a number of ways.

Unconscious bias, in particular, can prove to be an issue —  it can be difficult for individuals who are conducting interviews to correct preconceived notions if they don't realize they have them. 

To help ensure the interview process is fair, a number of companies are turning to an emerging practice — blind hiring— in which information relating to names, gender, educational background and other qualities is concealed.                                       

Could turning jobseekers into anonymous applicants be the ideal solution for eliminating bias?

Some organizations have had luck incorporating blind hiring practices into recruiting. A few options that are available to employers include:

Concealing candidate information

Studies — including this one and this one — have shown names can trigger gender and other types of conscious and unconscious bias. Removing them from resumes before interviewers review the information can help prevent stereotypes from playing a part in candidate screening stages; a number of tech solutions that hide names, photos and dates from applicant tracking system data and online job boards and remove names and faces from profiles and searches on social media sites like LinkedIn are available to help reduce the chance conscious and unconscious bias will occur.

Providing a skills test for job applicants

Some companies — Google, for example — tell candidates they may be asked to write code or perform other actions during the interview process to illustrate their abilities and areas of expertise. Data suggests it can be an effective way to evaluate candidates;  a study of 19 assessment techniques found a work sample test, involving hands-on simulations of a portion or all of a job, is one of the top three predictors of how a candidate will perform in a position. 

Using a skills-based blind hiring assessment can help reduce the risk applicants will be judged on subjective qualities, like personality — or evaluated incorrectly because they’ve provided erroneous information. Eighty-five percent of organizations say they’ve found a lie or misrepresentation on a resume or job application, according to a 2017 HireRight survey.

stock-photo-business-education-planning--1678842.pngConfirming job listings are well-worded

Joint research from the University of Waterloo and Duke University found job descriptions for positions in male-dominated areas used language typically associated with male stereotypes — such as leader, competitive and dominant — more than advertisements within female-dominated areas. Women tended to view job listings written with more stereotypically masculine wording as less appealing, indicating it might deter female candidates from applying.

Similar to the tools that can be used to remove personal information from applicant materials, technology has been introduced to help identify whether the tone of a proposed job posting skews toward one gender and provide employers with help writing a job description, based on what predictive analytics suggest would be the most relevant, gender-neutral terms.

Our blogs on the problem first impressions in interviews present and addressing unconscious bias can offer additional insight into why blind hiring practices might help companies remove conscious and unconscious bias from their interview process. 

For more on how to improve candidate experience and your organization’s hiring outcomes, read our blog posts on writing a job description that rocks, four interview process steps you should never skip, ways to identify which candidates are likely to be truly passionate about their position if they’re hired — and how to gauge whether applicants’ behavior during and after an interview indicates they’d be a questionable hire, or are just excited about the job.

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