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7 ways to remove bias from your hiring process

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by Charlotte Gurney

Bias is something that we all have. However, when it comes to a process like recruitment it can be damaging and create limitations with respect to how inclusive your workforce ultimately is. One of the main reasons for eliminating bias from your hiring process is to encourage more diversity in the workplace - which can result in a more productive and innovative staff. The most exciting talent isn’t necessarily going to appear with the gender, skin color, university results or hobbies that you might be looking for.

There are many benefits to removing bias from the hiring process and these are some of the simplest ways to do it.

1. Be brutally honest about your biases. Developing an awareness of where your biases exist is the first essential step to removing them from the equation. Look at where you might be making assumptions or leaps in judgment and ask yourself whether certain decisions are being driven by personal bias.

2. Take a test. There are a number of different tests available that can help you to identify where your biases might exist if you’re struggling to identify them yourself. The Implicit Association Test from Harvard, for example, is a great tool for acquiring some data on your own individual processes.

3. Decisions based on emotion are often bias-driven. Emotions are impermanent and change often so they are a terrible basis for decision-making. If you had to defend your decisions in a court of law, would you be able to do that or would you find yourself behaving shiftily and avoiding eye contact if you had to justify the basis for the hiring decisions you’ve made.

4. Challenge your gut reaction. Very few of us are in tune with our instinct/gut reaction - often, what we think is instinct is actually fear or an emotional response. As a result, it’s a good idea to challenge your own gut reactions about candidates. If you instinctively don’t like their accent, what they are wearing or how they spend their spare time, rethink this and make sure that bias isn’t turning you away from someone with talents that your business could benefit from.

5. Don’t make an instant decision. After an interview, take some time to reflect on what was said and how you felt about the candidate. Bias can often charge through in instant decision-making whereas sitting back and calmly reviewing the process can yield a much more measured and clear result. This doesn’t have to be intensely time consuming - just a few minutes of quiet contemplation will do.

6. Ask for input. Sometimes it’s difficult to get perspective on our own biases, especially if we’ve lived within them for many years. So, it can be useful to bring others in and get their input on the process, the candidates and the response that you’re having to potential new hires. It can be particularly useful to speak to people who hold a viewpoint that is different to yours.

7. Create a blind recruitment process. For example, when CVs are being considered you can remove information that could trigger biases, such as names, age and the university that someone graduated from. During the interview process make sure you only have information such as skills and experience to go on so that you’re not making judgments before you meet someone.

Removing bias from the hiring process creates more opportunities, not just for candidates but for businesses too.