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Perspective: Preventing Bias in the Hiring Process

April 05, 2022 3:00 AM | Administrative Manager (Administrator)

By Eustacia A. English –  NRWA DEI Columnist

In November 2021, we discussed The Hiring Process: What Bias Looks Like. We discussed the challenges of unconscious bias, which could be intentional or unintentional, and also touched on 13 different types of unconscious bias in hiring.

Recruiting diverse talent is a challenge for many organizations. The focus is usually on finding new talent pools rather than addressing other barriers to building a more inclusive hiring environment. Today, we will bring the topic full circle and discuss ways to develop a more inclusive hiring process for diversity recruiting efforts.

Increasing diversity hires and removing unconscious bias goes beyond just sourcing from more diverse pools. Candidates from underrepresented talent groups face barriers that may prevent them from successfully completing the hiring process. The hiring process must be reevaluated to address any hidden barriers and biases. Let’s discuss changes organizations can make to support inclusive hiring.

Define Job Requirements Based on Work Outcomes, Not Credentials
Most hiring leaders define hiring needs based on traditional profiles of educational backgrounds and prior work experience. However, this approach excludes candidates who would otherwise be capable of performing the job. Many diverse candidates get screened out of the process as a result. Recruiters and hiring leaders should adjust their job descriptions to describe the outcomes a job must achieve rather than define the qualifications needed to achieve them.

Create More Inclusive Job Posts
Neutral wording within job postings is essential. Certain language can attract candidates of a particular gender, race, or other backgrounds, making other candidates feel like they shouldn’t even bother applying. Biased language in job posts could unintentionally discourage women, racial minorities, and people with physical disabilities.

For example, dominant wording such as “seeking a competitive and driven candidate” often appeals to men, while wording like “cooperation and teamwork” more often appeal to women.

Job posts can inadvertently exclude disabled applicants through words such as “speak” or “carry.” Ensuring that your job postings are gender-neutral in wording will assure great candidates across the board to apply.

Implement Blind Resumes
I love the idea of implementing blind resumes during the interview process. A blind resume includes removing the candidate’s name and address and also withholding social media checks (LinkedIn) prior to the first interview. This prevents the outward appearance—such as name, address, and any personal interests—from playing a role in the hiring process before the hiring manager can assess more important criteria, such as skills and experience.

Lead with Skills Tests
Leveraging technology to reduce bias is an excellent way to see which candidates will succeed in a given role — no matter their past education or work experiences. Reputable companies all conduct skills tests to remove bias toward personality traits or physical characteristics. My company has been doing this for a few years, and the outcome has made a difference in our hiring practices.

Tailor the EVP for Underrepresented Talent Segments
As companies continue to compete for the best talent and work toward becoming more diverse and inclusive, it’s important to understand a candidate’s employee value proposition (EVP). Inclusive branding is key to ensuring an inclusive company culture is front and center for potential candidates to see. Candidates from underrepresented groups are looking for organizations with an authentic and inclusive company culture.

Create a Diverse Hiring Panel
People tend to want to hire people they like and who are similar to them. By lacking diversity in interview panels, companies are more susceptible to the panel being impacted by their biases and hiring people just like them. Having differences of opinions in an interview panel will allow companies to hire the best people because they truly are the best, not just because they are similar to themselves.

As a recruiter and a woman of color, I make it my duty to incorporate these things within my own organization. I’ve seen too many candidates not given an opportunity for one reason or another. If you would like to introduce any of the suggestions mentioned, stakeholder buy-in is really key to eliminating any roadblocks. I have been fortunate to work for organizations that held the same passion as I do.

As always, wishing you all continued peace, love, happiness, and blessings.

Eustacia English writes the Perspective column, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year HR and talent acquisition veteran and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at LinkedIn.com/in/ecampbell05.

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