Hiring International Talents How to Avoid Bias in Recruitment

Research by McKinsey & Company shows that companies with more diverse workplaces were 33% more likely to see better than average profitsRecruiters and hiring managers often rely on their intuition while making hiring decisions. When biases creep into hiring decisions, it can not only limit the quality of your workforce, but also the culture of your company. Hence, the decision-makers who evaluate candidates should check the ability of the applicant to do the job well over assumptions that are subjective and limited in their nature. Another survey by launchpad recruits suggests that for every 1% rise in a workforce’s gender and cultural diversity, there were corresponding increases of 3% and 9% in sales revenue, respectively.


Understanding Hiring Bias


According to a Harvard Studythe bias in hiring often stems from affinity — referring or selecting a candidate who shares our same race or gender, or who went to the same school, speaks the same language, or reminds us of our younger selves. This can cause one to make decisions in favor of one person or group over others and severely hurt the recruiting, promotion, and retention efforts at your workplace.

Simply put, unconscious bias in the hiring process creeps in when you form an opinion about candidates based purely on first impressions. Or, when you prefer one candidate over another simply because one of them seems like someone you’d easily hang out with outside of work. It can be based on other factors such as the applicant’s gender, race, ethnicity, name, age, religion, sexual orientation, looks, etc.

Even early on in the hiring process, a candidate’s picture on their resume or social media profiles, their name, or their hobbies could influence your opinion about them more than you think. Hence, unconscious bias influences your decision — whether positively or negatively — using criteria that are irrelevant to the job. We at akiTalent keep researching to find out new ways to hiring better. Read on to find out some bias-free hiring methods and tools.

Strategies to De-Bias Your Recruitment Process


The recent global crisis and upheaval in the employment market make eliminating hiring bias an essential tool for survival. People, processes, and technologies can all be entry points for hiring biases. Let’s dive into some strategies to help you reduce bias in your hiring procedures especially now with the COVID-19 lense when the job seekers to recruiter ratio have further widened and with the huge number of applications. Recruiters are no longer spending more than 7 seconds on each resume!

1. Keep a neutral tone throughout the hiring process: Be it your job listings, job descriptions, or the interview — it’s important to especially keep a gender-neutral and race-neutral approach in choosing words written or spoken about the job under consideration. Focusing on the credentials rather than the candidate’s personal characteristics is one of the first seemingly simple steps to reduce bias.
2. Provide learning resources and platforms for an organizational conversation: Begin with identifying various prejudices that managers hold while screening for potential candidates. Make ample educational and training content that brings awareness to your employees. This will most definitely spark conversations, self-awareness about individual biases and eventually work towards solutions that help your organization as a whole to simplify and standardize hiring practices that eliminate prejudices and pre-conceived notions. By trying to understand where biases are coming from and how they affect our hiring decisions; we may not be able to completely discard our unconscious bias, but, ultimately, we’ll be more conscious of it when it does happen.
3. Give more weightage to the candidate’s skillsets: Questions, like Tell Me About Yourself, are asked to understand the education, work experience, and overall background of the candidate. But these questions can invariably make the interviewer draw commonalities with the candidate thus making room for biases to follow. One way to address this issue is by shifting the focus on their past performances, problem-solving skills, communication, and business savviness. Focussing on candidate skillsets can give some insight into the factors that impact their performance.
4. Give candidates a chance to prove themselves through a sample case study to work on: After initial screening, often there are a handful of candidates that more or less fit the job requisition perfectly well. Once you have the finalists, give them a time-bound (2–5 days per business requirement) case study with a scenario that they could possibly face on the job. The candidates can then be asked to present their ideas that would show how they would handle similar situations in real life. This will show you how well they fit the requirements of the role — with absolutely no impact from their ethnicity, gender, name, education, age, personal interests, or any other factor. Doing this can eliminate any scope of bias on the grounds of likeability or mutual identification.
5. Play the devil’s advocate to the selection committee: Disrupt bias by asking yourself and the decision-making team — “ what if you were to swap a candidate of color who you are less likely to hire because of their passionate way of speaking with one of your typical hires, would you have the same reaction?” This is one of the many ways you can recognize bias by flipping the situation and asking the right questions.
Widen the lens through which you hire: If you have always gone to a particular business school, university or geography — try sourcing from new talent pools that you haven’t looked at in the past. A diverse company needs to have a diverse talent pool and hence looking at new avenues becomes that much more critical in order to reduce bias.
6. Have a diverse hiring panel: Affinity bias makes us choose people that come from the same backgrounds as us hence, having a diverse panel with women and underrepresented minorities (color, sex, race, etc.) is important to prevent affinity bias.
7. Hire a skilled recruitment agency: One of the surefire ways of eliminating bias is by employing a third-party recruiter like akiTalent. They not only have a large pool of diverse and verified international talents they also pride in thoroughly vetting profiles to find the right fit through their primary screening itself.
8. Use custom automation that helps remove bias: While ATS has become the norm for every global organization, it's important to also customize the software program in a way that it blinds certain demographic characteristics to ensure a level playing field. After initial tracking, the preliminary talent pool should then be administered a second evaluation for eg: Excel, Word, and other computer-related skills. The finalists can then be invited for an interview.
9. Be careful when you set out with the goal of diversity: Diversity goals are talked about more and more in every global company, but it can also sometimes quickly become controversial and backfire if not trodden carefully because they can undermine the people who are hired making them feel that they were only hired because of the color of their skin or because you had a diversity target to reach for the year. In such cases, the backlash can also come from your traditional hires. Hence, it's important to have diversity goals but also to carefully navigate and track them in order to not upset your employees.

Equal opportunity employment is not only a legal requirement, but it has also been proven that more diverse teams create more profitable companies. The above strategies can transform your hiring process into an experience that candidates, hiring managers and recruiters will love. Bias-free, and with significantly better hiring results. Head to our website at www.akitalent.com for customized headhunting services along with legal advice and full recruitment support to the point of the signing of the job contract.

Written by: Smriti Narendran for akiTalent, Paris, France.