At DiSRUPT B Corp recruitment agency, we understand that unconscious bias can play a significant role in the recruitment process, often leading to less diverse and inclusive workforces. To tackle this issue, we have developed a training and technology process to reduce unconscious bias during interviews for our DiSRUPT clients.
We explore the various types of unconscious biases in the interview process and discuss how DiSRUPT's approach, alongside Includability, a standard for inclusive workplaces, can help organisations create more diverse and inclusive environments.
What is unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias refers to the unintentional and automatic preferences or judgments we make about others based on factors like appearance, race, gender, or background.
In the recruitment process, these biases can significantly impact the selection of candidates, leading to a less diverse and inclusive workforce. While technology has been touted as a potential solution to addressing these biases, training interviewers and HR managers is a more effective long-term strategy. We explore various types of unconscious biases that affect the interview process and discuss the merits of training over technology in combating these biases.
10 ways unconscious bias can affect the interview process
- First Impressions: Interviewers may inadvertently form opinions about candidates based on initial appearances, such as clothing, grooming, or body language. These opinions can impact their evaluation of the candidate's qualifications, potentially leading to unfair decisions.
- Stereotyping: Stereotyping involves unconsciously attributing specific traits or characteristics to a candidate based on their race, gender, age, or other demographic factors. This can result in biased decision-making that favours certain groups over others.
- Name Bias: Name bias occurs when interviewers subconsciously favour candidates with names that are familiar or easier to pronounce. This can result in discrimination against individuals with unique or foreign-sounding names, limiting diversity in the workplace.
- Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek information that confirms pre-existing beliefs about a candidate, leading to an overlooking of contradictory evidence or focusing on irrelevant factors. This can result in an unfair assessment of the candidate's abilities and qualifications.
- Halo/Horns Effect: The halo/horns effect refers to the influence of a single positive or negative trait on the overall evaluation of a candidate. This bias can overshadow the candidate's other qualifications and skills, leading to an unbalanced assessment.
- Similarity Bias: Similarity bias occurs when interviewers favour candidates who share similar backgrounds, interests, or personalities. This can result in a homogenous workforce and limit diversity within the organisation.
- Nonverbal Communication Bias: Nonverbal communication bias involves the interpretation of a candidate's nonverbal cues, such as eye contact or body language, based on cultural differences or personal experiences. This can lead to biased evaluations and unfair treatment of candidates.
- Anchoring Bias: Anchoring bias is the reliance on the first piece of information learned about a candidate (e.g., a CV or pre-interview conversation) and allowing it to influence the overall assessment. This can result in an unbalanced evaluation of the candidate's qualifications.
- Overconfidence Bias: Overconfidence bias refers to the tendency of interviewers to overestimate their ability to evaluate candidates objectively, leading them to overlook potential biases in their decision-making.
- Groupthink: Groupthink occurs in panel interviews when interviewers conform to the opinions of the majority or a dominant figure in the group. This can suppress individual perspectives and reinforce unconscious biases.
Natalie Denham-Bradley, COO at Unleashed on how organisations can take steps to counter bias:
Bias in Talent
“Bias in talent management and acquisition is common. It is a deeply personal experience for everyone involved and, without taking the right steps to acknowledge and address bias, unavoidably shaped by human nature. Bias can undermine diversity and inclusion goals for an organisation, create poor people experiences and damage employer reputation and brand.
Bias in People
“We can start by ensuring those involved in hiring or talent discussions are educated to be aware of how bias can influence their decision making as individuals or as a group."
Bias in Process
“Making changes to processes themselves can also protect from the negative effect of bias on candidate experience and EDI outcomes. Organisations should provide training for hiring and talent reviews; use consistent and measurable criteria for assessment and talent identification including skills and behaviours; anonymise applications; provide balanced shortlists and interview panels and use data to include new and diverse talent with the right skills in talent discussions."
Bias in Data
“Data collection is the best way to measure whether processes are being impacted by bias and allows data led decision making around interventions to correct and minimise the effect of bias. EDI metrics for both candidates and employees should be discussed with leadership teams alongside the organisations EDI goals, so everyone is informed and supported in driving progress.”
DiSRUPT Recruitment Agency: A Mix of Training and Technology
DiSRUPT RPO service is designed to help organisations address unconscious bias in the interview process through a mix of training and technology. Our training programmes raise awareness of unconscious biases, develop empathy and understanding, improve communication and cultural competency, and encourage open-mindedness and critical thinking.
We incorporate technology solutions, such as Video Interviews and blind recruitment processes, to support and enhance our training efforts developing them to fit your business and candidates effectively.
Michael Blakley, co-founder of Equitas on bias in interviews:
“The amount of bias that can come into play during interviews is frightening. Beauty bias is one of the big ones, scoring attractive people more favourably. Accent bias, people with "working class accents" or ethnic minority accents can sometimes be marked or scored down by interviewers (Amol Rajan has an incredible documentary that touches on accent bias and classism), and the final one I always highlight is affinity bias, being more favourable with people who share similar interests, backgrounds, or experiences. Highlighting some of the most common biases can help hiring managers and interviewers make a start on their journey to fair hiring. Those who really care will research more, look at the bias codex, seek training and courses or even start to consider what technology (like the Equitas platform) can we use to minimise bias.
The thing to be mindful of is that no two candidates are ever the same and that while you try to be consistent in approach people's needs may differ and you just have to use a common-sense approach when interviewing them with a bit of structure to make sure you minimise bias when conducting interviews.
After the interviews is when you should score them (not during) and if you take away one thing it should be to score candidates on the quality of their content (notes or transcription of the interview), not what they look like, not what they sound like, nor their background.”
How can Includability, The Standard for Inclusive Workplaces, help you with your hiring process?
Includability is a standard that focuses on diversity and inclusion (D&I), mental health, wellbeing, sustainability, and leadership and governance. By adhering to the Includability standard, organisations can create more inclusive work environments that value the unique contributions of each employee.
Challenges and Best Practices in Implementing Unconscious Bias Training
Resistance to Change
Implementing unconscious bias training may be met with resistance from employees who are sceptical or defensive about the need for change. At DiSRUPT, we approach these challenges with empathy, open communication, and an emphasis on the benefits of diversity and inclusion for all employees.
Ensuring Long-term Impact and Commitment
To be effective, unconscious bias training must be an ongoing effort, with organisations continually reinforcing the importance of diversity and inclusion and providing resources for continued learning and improvement. DiSRUPT is committed to supporting organisations in their long-term journey towards inclusivity.
Incorporating Continuous Learning and Improvement
DiSRUPT believes in the importance of regularly evaluating the effectiveness of unconscious bias training programs and being open to incorporating feedback and making adjustments as needed. This focus on continuous improvement can help ensure that training remains relevant and effective over time.
Jo Major, Founder, Diversity in Recruitment on how to focus decision making in the hiring process:
“Bias – despite what the snake-oil sellers tell us, you can’t train away unconscious bias. It’s already fully uploaded in the hard drive of our brains by the time we are in primary school. Yes, training helps us understand its existence and the many forms it takes, but controlling and mitigating bias in hiring takes action and fundamental changes in how we run recruitment processes.
After we’ve learnt to understand how it’s showing up for our hiring teams through training, we then learn how to counteract that with an inclusive process that ensures decision-making is focused on critical skills and experiences, not how we feel about candidates. That could mean anonymising CVs, taking out ‘chemistry check’ style interviewing, pre-planning competency and behavioural questions, building scoring frameworks, assessing value alignment rather than perceived fit, scrapping psychometrics and evaluating critical job criteria, to name but a few effective ways of managing our preferences and hiring habits.”
Leveraging Technology as a Supplementary Tool
While training should be the primary method of addressing unconscious bias, technology can still play a valuable role as a supplementary tool. DiSRUPT RPO incorporates technology solutions like Video Interviews and Interview intelligence software to identify potential biases in the interview process, helping organisations refine their training programmes and target specific areas for improvement.
Addressing unconscious bias in the interview process is critical for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Using DiSRUPT B Corp recruitment agency and making the commitment to the Includability standard, offers a comprehensive approach to tackling this issue by combining training and technology. By investing in ongoing training programmes and leveraging technology solutions, organisations can foster a more inclusive culture and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Continuing to Tackle Bias After Interviews
Bias doesn’t stop once the interview process is over, and a job offer is made. Tackling unconscious bias must continue during onboarding and beyond to ensure your employees are being challenged in their roles and not being overlooked.
Technology can play a part to gather employee data and pinpoint where bias is stopping staff from progressing in their careers or feeling a strong sense of belonging.
With the support of Ambassadors and Partners with in the Includability Community we can create lasting change and champion inclusive recruitment for a brighter future.
Meera Somji, Co-Founder of Clusivity on using tech to reduce bias during onboarding:
“Having bias doesn’t make you a bad person. Instead, bias is natural. Bias creeps into all of our decision-making and our organisational processes. It ends up negatively influencing who we hire, who we promote, and who we retain.
The easiest way to tackle bias is to measure where it exists. The Clusivity platform is designed to ask the people who know best - your employees. With a simple survey platform, we can identify exactly which groups of your employees experience bias. Clusivity takes a holistic and intersectional approach. We cover gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and disability/health conditions. Our analytics engine pinpoints where bias is stopping your staff from progressing in their careers or feeling a strong sense of belonging.
Data on bias is only helpful if you know what to do with it. We provide the right training and introduce the right tools to help you to interrupt bias. Our survey tool will measure your progress on an ongoing basis, so that you can celebrate building a more inclusive workplace with your employees, customers and communities.”
Why Choose DiSRUPT Recruitment Agency In Reading Berkshire?
Join DiSRUPT Agency today to learn how your company can use training and technology to reduce bias in your hiring processes and beyond. Our B Corp status helps us attract top quality candidates for your roles, and our Includability community of experts can help you release the potential of that talent from interview to onboarding. All of which increases your retention rates and reduces your recruitment costs.