There’s a lot of talk and focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace but, we often overlook the acts of discrimination that unconsciously occur during the hiring process. HR and recruitment teams are becoming more aware of these risks and are putting checks in place to remove any form of discrimination from their hiring process. But what happens if you are sabotaging hiring decisions in your business with unconscious bias?


What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is the automatic stereotypes about certain groups of people that we form outside our conscious awareness. In recruitment, this is when you create an opinion about someone based solely on first impressions. In the early hiring stages, we may prefer one candidate over another because you can see yourself hanging out with that person outside of work. Or their name or profile picture on their resume influenced your opinion on them – positively or negatively.

Hiring managers may choose candidates they have a good feeling about but can’t explain why they want to hire that person. Bias may be impossible to get rid of completely, but awareness can help people think more consciously.

Of course, technology and AI can help build a more objective hiring process, but at the same time, a great hiring process also needs the human factor.


Bias can be everywhere in your hiring process

Even in the early resume screening stages, bias comes into play. We progress or reject candidates based on a picture we have created in our minds of the ‘perfect’ candidate. As hiring managers advance candidates through each stage, they may move candidates forward even though they have a lingering feeling that they’re not quite right for the role. Unfortunately, this feeling may ‘haunt’ them, and the candidate ends up getting disqualified at a later stage, because of this initial first impression.


How to identify biases in your hiring process

Your recruitment process needs to be regularly monitored to gather data and pinpoint where your problems are. Ask yourself – who are your job ads attracting? Do candidates drop-off after a certain stage? If you find some disconnects, are they associated with certain people or teams within your organisation?

There is no easy solution to removing bias from your hiring process. Not even with technology. What we can do though, is understand where our prejudices come from and be more aware of how they affect hiring decisions.


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