Removing bias to hire the best talent

James Moorhouse, Director, ABN Resource

A key issue that stops the best people from getting hired for your company is bias.

Bias can come in many forms but two of the most prevalent when hiring is unconscious bias and confirmation bias.

Unconscious bias, where your life experiences give you beliefs or views about other people that might not be right or reasonable, is a natural part of human function. But they can skew your judgement when hiring, leading to stereotyping and not giving the applicant a fair or reasonable opportunity to showcase their qualities for the job. Confirmation bias makes you look for things to support, rather than reject your preconceptions. Typically this makes you ignore conflicting evidence, and interpret evidence in a way to confirm your belief.

The good news is that once you know about biases, you can make changes to your recruitment strategies to mitigate their effect.

Start with the right job advertising A well-crafted advert or application process should highlight what is great about working at your company and should use inclusive language, avoiding gendered terms to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Form a diverse group of decision-makers Utilise a diverse group of decision-makers at every stage of the hiring process. Research from Applied, a Diversity Recruitment Tool, suggests the biggest bump in hiring accuracy occurs when three different people are involved in recruitment decisions from the firm. With this interview panel size results improve from 66 per cent to 85 per cent chance of picking the right hire. It is important the feedback on a candidate is submitted without conferring, to avoid falling into collective biases or groupthink.


Utilise structured interview and review methods Use standardised interview questions and scorecards to gauge the specific skills and traits of a candidate. This will reduce bias as the interviewer evaluates the candidate on questions that are predetermined and directly related to the position. A sign of bias can be when you ask irrelevant or off-topic questions as you are searching for an answer to confirm your preconceived ideas on the candidate.

Get more information with the right hiring assessment tools

Hiring assessments linked to a relevant competency framework means candidates can be evaluated without bias. In this way, they have the chance to demonstrate their ability to perform the duties of a position through job simulations and show they possess the work skills and personality traits necessary to succeed through different behavioural and psychometric tests.

Fill your vacancies more effectively The cost of a bad hire is 3 times the salary paid. Removing bias will get you the right hire, show you are a more inclusive employer and will create a more diverse workforce within your company. A wider pool of qualified talent will fill your vacancies more effectively, making your hiring easier with more choice at interview and ultimately will deliver better results and growth at your company.

It is worth noting that whilst organisations are looking to attract the best talent, so potential employees are looking more keenly at prospective employers to demonstrate inclusivity and diversity in their core activities and operations. The mutual benefits can only be positive.


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