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3 Ways to Overcome Unconscious Bias in Your Recruiting Process

In recent years, diversity and inclusion in the corporate world has become prominent. Many organizations strive to eliminate discrimination from their hiring processes. The goal is to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Yet, the risk of unconscious bias, an often-overlooked obstacle, can interfere with this goal.

So, what is unconscious bias and how can we overcome it during the recruitment process? Unconscious bias refers to the preferences and prejudices we hold without realizing it. These biases impact our judgment and decision-making processes. If we are not aware of these, it can have significant effects on recruitment practices. One unintended consequence is decisions that favor specific candidates based on factors unrelated to their suitability for the job.

Recognizing Unconscious Bias in Recruitment

Harvard Business School defines unconscious bias as “the mental processes that cause us to act in ways that reinforce stereotypes even when in our conscious mind we would deem that behavior counter to our value system.” This can occur during recruitment. As humans we form opinions about candidates based on first impressions. Another unconscious bias is the affinity bias. This is where we gravitate toward candidates like us. Even insignificant factors such as a candidate's photo, name, or hometown can skew our perceptions and sway our decisions. Research shows that our minds often make these intuitive decisions before we know them.

Impact of Unconscious Bias on Businesses

Unconscious bias in recruitment doesn't stifle diversity. It's also a costly error for businesses. Biased hiring decisions can result in homogeneous teams, hindering innovation, productivity, and profitability. Additionally, unconscious bias can affect where we look for talent. It's about more than ensuring diversity at the selection stage. It's also about reducing bias where we source our talent, when skills gaps result in a less-than-optimum candidate pool.

Benefits of removing Unconscious Bias from the Hiring Process and Where to Begin Studies have shown that companies perform better with greater ethnic and gender diversity. Bringing together a diverse group of people allows your business access to a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. The first step in removing unconscious bias from recruitment is awareness. Completely eliminating unconscious bias may not be possible. However, building awareness and encouraging people to think more consciously when making hiring decisions is crucial. Here are several things you can include in your recruiting and hiring process to reduce unconscious bias.

  • Incorporate diverse thinking into your business objectives. Aligning the drive to reduce unconscious bias with overall business objectives is essential to moving in the right direction.

  • Review your recruitment and interview process. Begin by examining each step, from marketing techniques to onboarding. It's essential to gather data and pinpoint where problems exist. The problem may be a specific type of applicant you tend to attract or specific stages where candidates drop out. Standardizing your interview process is also an easy and important step. Ensure that interviewers ask candidates the same set of questions in the same order. Introducing a test or assessment can also help gauge skill level in an unbiased manner.

  • Training and education are key to removing unconscious bias. Running courses and workshops can help bring unconscious biases into focus. Providing training makes people aware of how they influence decision-making. Companies must consider the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need for a job. Also, be open-minded about where they can source those skills. This may result in hiring more diverse people.

Eliminating unconscious biases all at once may not be possible. However, recognizing the existence and impact of these biases on hiring decisions is the first step. Businesses can be more inclusive, diverse, and successful in their recruitment processes through understanding and minimizing unconscious bias.


Questions about where there might be unconscious bias in your recruitment process? TalentRemedy has a team of experts ready to help you find the right candidates and the experience to help you fill those open roles. Contact us at info@talentremedy.com or 703-362-0175 to set up a time to discuss how our team can support you.

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