5 practical ways to reduce bias in your hiring process

IN THIS ARTICLE

The traditional recruitment process is often unfair and biased. But thanks to solid research in recruitment, we know what we can do to make the recruitment process more inclusive. Here we list a range of methods and tools that will not only make your recruitment less discriminatory – you will also increase your chances of finding the candidate with the greatest potential to succeed in your organization. 

1. Make a thorough job analysis to develop a requirements profile

The first, and the most important, thing you do in a recruitment process should be a job analysis. The analysis is about identifying which behaviors are success factors for the role in question. What skills are needed? What personal qualities are important to perform well? Are there any educational requirements? 

A well-conducted analysis will help you put together your requirements profile. If you skip this step, there is a high risk that you will place value on all the wrong things and make decisions based on your gut feeling. 

Tip

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2. Focus on potential, not resumes

Do not be blinded by experience and knowledge. A resume may tell you what someone has done in the past, but it says very little about how well the tasks were performed and what the person learned. Dare to look beyond the resume and assess the candidate’s potential and motivations. With the right attitude and the right qualities for the role, you can learn a lot in a short time. 

Increase the assessment quality in your interviews

3. Say goodbye to all cover letters

The cover letter is not a good selection method. The idea of the cover letter is good, as we have known for many years that our personal qualities have a strong impact on how we behave at work. One of the main problems with cover letters is that they require the reader to make their own subjective interpretation to judge what is a “good” letter. It is then left to chance and the reader’s prejudices to decide who should go further in the process. 

Another problem with cover letters is that although everyone tends to describe themselves as, for example, “determined” and “driven”, it is impossible to judge who is more or less of anything. 

We are all biased, it’s in our nature. The important thing is to know how we are affected by our biases and what we can do about it.
Anna Åslund
CMO & founder of Asker

4. Use psychometric tests as a screening tool

Once you have thrown out the cover letter, you can also change the way you select candidates for the job interview. By having all job applicants take tests early in the process, you can do your initial screening based on objective test data (and resumes, if you like). 

Psychometric tests do not consider factors like age, gender, or education, which helps you look at your candidates more objectively. By using tests, you give people who lack the “classic background” a chance to demonstrate their competence and potential. 

5. Structure your interviews

During a structured interview, you ask predetermined questions that all are correlated to important job competencies (derived from a detailed requirements profile, see step 1 on this list). For example, questions can be behavioral or situational. Interview responses are assessed using a pre-determined scoring system. 

By asking the same questions to everyone and assessing the answers in the same way, you reduce the risk of biases, such as the halo effect and the similar-to-me effect, influencing your decisions. A structured interview has much greater reliability and validity than an unstructured one, reducing the risk of a bad hire.  

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It’s not just the role itself that may have changed. The company’s strategy and goals may look different too.
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In a structured interview you ask questions that relate to the skills and competencies that are important for the role.

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