What is Recruitment Bias?

An unbiased recruitment process means the presence of inclusivity and diversity in a company’s workforce. Without recruitment bias, companies will experience increased productivity, good brand reputation, and a conducive work environment. Inclusive recruitment processes impact companies positively by helping them acquire talents from all over the world. 

Biased recruitment on the other hand, only leads to loss of valuable potential and growth, diverse perspectives and ideas, and inevitably, precious work hours. It also affects the company’s reputation negatively in the business world and makes them subject to legal repercussions such as discrimination lawsuits by offended individuals.

Recruitment bias is responsible for the unfair dismissal and underestimation of highly qualified or promising applicants during screening for recruitment. It can be intentional or subconscious on the part of the recruiter, and very often before candidates are given a chance to prove themselves during the interview, they are dismissed or perceived as unfit for the position. 

Many people try to be self aware of their own bias, but it is not always possible. An individual can still be unconsciously biased even though they profess otherwise. Unconsciously harbored bias on the part of the recruiter eventually affects their decisions made during the recruitment process. 

Forms of Recruitment Bias

Bias, whether implicit or explicit, can manifest during recruitment in the following forms:

Recruiter may develop a preference for applicants who have certification from a prestigious institution they attended or revere, because they perceive them as highly competent. Therefore, when reviewing the resume of any applicant who is in possession of this certification, they may hire such a person without regard to their qualifications.

Recruiter has a preconceived notion about candidates from a certain race, place, or religion. It is not uncommon for candidates to be intentionally rejected based on the discrimination that stems from stereotypes.

Recruiters display a certain disapproval for names which are not similar to their own. Therefore, when reviewing an applicant’s resume to be called for an interview, people with a particular kind of name which relates to an unfamiliar culture or religion may not be called back. 

The underestimation and judgment of handicapped applicants as incompetent or unable to perform certain duties which are unrelated to the role applied for. 

Beauty bias is not talked about enough, but it exists. In this case, applicants who fit the general societal standard of beauty are preferred regardless of whether they possess the necessary qualifications or not. The recruiter has a standard they prefer, and so it is impossible for them to consider anyone that falls short.

Homophobic bias is often implicit. Due to an internalized perception of LGBTQ+ individuals, the recruiter who already has some negative generalized assumptions, may exhibit discriminatory behavior during recruitment.

A way of telling if a company has biased recruitment processes is by studying their workforce for any hints of diversity. If there is none, it suggests the presence of bias in their recruitment.

How to mitigate recruitment bias

In the recruitment process, bias can only be mitigated by introducing standard strategies. These methods include:

Introducing anonymous applications where applicants send in their resumes anonymously without giving away any indication of their gender, age, race, social class, or anything that could trigger bias. 

Implement standard screening rules that are strictly based on competency and compatibility of the applicant to the job role. 

Training recruiters and other employees to develop a more inclusive culture within the organization. This would directly and positively affect recruitment to be more inclusive too.

Employing AI-powered tools like JobID that pursue inclusive hiring practices and is trained to counteract bias. 

AI uses the power of data analytics to streamline the hiring process to be even more efficient. This way, even applications that would normally be overlooked due to bias become visible.

Recruitment bias in the job space negatively affects both applicants and the employers alike. While it seems almost impossible to unlearn bias, bias in recruitment can be reformed gradually and intentionally first from promoting inclusion in diversity in the corporate space (recruiters and the corporate workspace generally) and the use of ready made tools by JOBID.

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