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Fight Unconscious Bias During Recruitment with These Tips

September 16th, 2020

Human Resources

2 min read

As much as we hate to admit it, we all have biases. We're biased when it comes to sports teams, food, and nearly every aspect of our everyday life. We can’t help ourselves. Most of the time, it happens without us even knowing it — and that’s precisely when it can become most dangerous.

This is known as unconscious bias. It’s the idea that individuals form social stereotypes about certain groups of people outside of their own conscious awareness. In fact, unconscious bias is far more commonplace than conscious bias. It often rears its ugly head when multitasking or working under
significant stress or pressure.

Sound familiar? Well, unconscious bias can be a significant factor when it comes to the recruitment process. As recruiters, we always do our very best to treat every candidate fairly and consistently. Unfortunately, in reality, we don't always accomplish this. That said, unconscious bias isn’t impossible to fight. We’re here to help strengthen your recruitment process with these tips to help combat unconscious bias.

Be Honest About Your Biases

A lot of people who have unconscious bias don’t think they have it. They'll argue that they don’t lean a certain way and that we should take their word at face value. This is a downright ignorant way of thinking. One of the most damaging byproducts of unconscious bias is that recruiters doing it refuse to recognize it.

The remedy starts with self-reflection. If you can’t identify the issue, how are you going to solve it? Of course, this takes an enormous amount of transparency with yourself. It can even be an immensely uncomfortable process at times. The goal is to seek an understanding of the root of these biases and how they're impacting who you hire and why.

Equipped with this information, you can seek ways to overcome these biases. Whether that means talking them through with a confidant or taking steps on your own, you are now in a state of heightened awareness.

Carefully Examine Your Job Descriptions

They say the devil’s in the details and that’s certainly true in the recruitment process. Job descriptions can sometimes be one of the worst culprits of unconscious bias. Words are one of the most powerful tools recruiters have in their arsenal. Based on the words you choose in job descriptions, you may even alienate a group of people unknowingly.

Words such as “competitive” and “determined” tend to fall under masculine language, while words such as “collaborative” and “cooperative” are generally considered feminine. This is why you should strive for neutrality. Find words that don’t sway in a masculine or feminine direction to ensure all candidates understand they’re welcome to apply.

Build a Consistent Recruitment Process

A lot of recruiters face this issue. When things get challenging, and work gets a little hectic, they don’t stick to their recruitment process. They’ll veer off and make poor decisions they otherwise wouldn’t even
consider. This is why it’s absolutely critical to have a tried and true recruitment process in place that you can consistently return to.

People screening software is a great tool to add to your recruitment process. They can eliminate unconscious bias by providing you with the most qualified candidates based on pure data. Sign up for a free account today to find out more about how Certn can help your organization find the best candidates for any role you’re looking to fill.

About the Author

Andrew McLeod is a millennial and C3O of Certn, a leading global data company specializing in lightning fast background checks. In addition to running one of the fastest growing tech start-ups in Canada, he advises leaders on how to thrive in the current era of disruptive technological change and how to go from idea to $1M in ARR while “living the dream”. Andrew previously disrupted the rent payment space with RentMoola, pioneered Canadian online classifieds (2007 Exit) and was a Forbes 30 Under 30 Nominee. He holds a BBA and a Masters of International Business and Law.

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