3 Tips to Reduce Bias in Recruitment

Steve Lowisz
We all have unconscious biases, it’s human nature. And as recruiters, it’s our responsibility to recognize and reduce these biases wherever possible.

So, what are some steps we can take to reduce bias in recruitment?

1. Consider if the job description will deter certain candidates from applying.

Studies show that women are more likely to apply for a job when they feel they meet 100% of the requirements, as opposed to men who will apply if they feel they meet just 60%.

Let’s say a client has 8 years of experience required in the job description; it may be in your best interest to look deeper to see if it is truly necessary. After all, years of experience does NOT equal skill. An arbitrary requirement such as this could be dissuading quality female candidates from even throwing their hat into the ring. Can someone with 4 years of experience be just as qualified as someone with 8?

Research also shows that women may perceive they do not belong in a work environment when job descriptions are filled with traditionally masculine language like “competitive” or “dominant”. Using less gendered keywords will yield a more diverse candidate pool.

2. Use the same process to evaluate every CV.

Come up with a consistent process to review and score each CV objectively. Having a scoring process that focuses on pertinent information will provide you with measurable data and will remove a great amount of bias.

Although your CV scoring may have different criteria depending on the role, some general examples of items you could tally up include a relevant work history, relevant skills, or if the CV is targeted specifically to the position, versus if it’s more of a one-size-fits-all document.

You could even take it a step further and do a “blind” resume review process. There are online tools you can purchase that will remove information that could potentially trigger an unconscious bias such as a candidate’s name, age, or photo.

3. Standardize Interviews.

Unstructured interviews are unreliable for predicting success. It heavily relies on learning about the candidate through organic conversation, which leaves a lot of room for bias to seep in. 

Some candidates may receive certain questions that others are never asked, or perhaps you’ll find yourself bonding with someone over a shared interest that is irrelevant to the job. Although unintentional, those candidates are automatically placed at an unfair advantage.

Having a structured set of questions to ask every candidate in the same order can make things more consistent and equal. Take the time to consider questions that are directly relevant to the job, and decide what a great answer looks like, what an okay answer looks like, and what a poor answer looks like.

Minimize bias, increase diversity. 

By minimizing instances where unconscious bias can place candidates at an unfair disadvantage, your candidate pool is bound to become more diverse.