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Matchmaking Techniques Can Help Recruiters Hook Up with Amazing Talent

Without going too far into the weeds, I believe it’s fair to say that recruiting and matchmaking share much in common. Think about dating. We “date” all the time, and that reaches beyond romantic[...]

December 11, 2018

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The Most Common Hidden Biases and How to Avoid Them

As stated in last week’s post, Hidden Biases That Affect the Hiring Process, the unconscious hiring bias of recruiters can affect the hiring process, making companies less diverse and less likely to succeed in the long run. Clearly, these biases need to be found and addressed so that recruiters are actually putting the best candidates forward from here on out.

Unconscious hiring biases form along with first impressions, so you need to remember to keep an open mind and to question your preconceived notions. Everyone ends up making assumptions about others, not just recruiters, but most people don’t have the power to influence how well a company does. Remember to think twice before making judgment calls and to let first impressions change.

Still not sure how to overcome those assumptions and hidden biases? Here are some helpful ideas for every step of the hiring process.

Tips to Overcome Unconscious Hiring Bias

Job posting:

  • Try to advertise and recruit in venues that cater to diverse audiences (job fairs at various malls, newsletters for different organizations, etc.) to widen your talent pool and appeal to different cultural and social backgrounds.
  • Be aware of how different words attract different candidates. You could be biased in the job posting simply by using “young people-person” since that is already discriminating based on age and being extroverted. You need to know that how you write can influence the process even before getting into the interviews. Try to rewrite any job descriptions that appeal to only one gender, personality type, etc.

Candidate selection:

  • Try out a system for blind auditions (no name, education, or experience, just skills-based test results) so that you can see the talent without getting bogged down in personal details that can generate bias.
  • Bypassing the piles of resumes and going straight to headhunting or referrals eliminates some bias since the candidates are familiar with the company and the recruiters have less to deal with.
  • Use a program to look at each candidate through their data points to compare them to the job opening instead of sifting through resumes by hand. This can be more fair, although you need to be aware that the biases of the programmer may be influencing the software, so don’t only rely fully on this method.

During the interview:

  • Stick to structured interviews so that everyone answers the same standardized questions. This makes it easier to compare their abilities without being influenced by superficial traits. It is also helpful to ask behavioral questions to see how they reacted in the past to possible future situations.
  • If possible, try to have many pairs of eyes on the interview, either with a transcript or with a panel interview. You could even try to have live or recorded phone or video interviews so that more people can hear the candidate and weigh in on the matter.

After the interview:

  • Take a minute to see if you are dismissing or pushing forward a specific candidate. Is this action based on actual concrete data from their resume, skills test, or interview, or is based on something else like a gut feeling or a physical characteristic? If it’s the latter, then you are being biased. Once you recognize a bias, you need to get back on track for an objective analysis.
  • You need to train yourself out of making decisions based on superficial traits (appearance, culture, comfort level during the interview, etc.) and look deeper. If you still have issues, you need to ask better questions during the interview or look into interview training. You need to avoid making snap decisions since they are not the best way to hire someone.
  • Don’t forget to test your conclusions. This is where reference checks come in. Always verify that the candidate is who and what they say they are.

Outside of the hiring process:

  • Become more familiar with different experiences, people, and cultures so that you don’t reject those who are different simply because of these traits. These biases not only limit potential hires, but they also count as discrimination.
  • Don’t dismiss a candidate just because they are different from the norm. That is exactly what you should be looking for. Does this different mindset, communication skill, or thought framework hinder them in any way? Remember, different doesn’t mean less effective or skilled. They are equally competent, just holding a different perspective.
  • If you want to know how much your unconscious biases are affecting your thought processes, Harvard released various tests to see how strong your implicit beliefs and thought associations are. Take a few of their tests to see where you land on their scale and then use those result to reframe your thoughts.

All of these changes are beneficial to both yourself and the company since unconscious biases inhibit diversity in the workforce. Remember, diversity leads to dynamic problem-solving and better decision-making since it helps to develop a better, more well-rounded team. So, keep an open mind and try to notice any biases you may have and then correct them!

Scott Giroux
Scott Giroux
20+ year veteran of all things staffing and recruiting. Proven innovator and leader adept at building long-term relationships and managing teams for growth. Dedicated to helping talent suppliers be successful by leveraging emerging technologies.
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