How to avoid bias in the recruitment process

Avoid bias in the recruitment process

How to avoid bias in the recruitment process

Diversity matters. We know this from a social, ethical and innate point of view. There’s even new research to suggest that companies with diverse workforces perform better financially. But, even knowing this, companies around the world continue to falter in their efforts to recruit a diverse workforce.

Before we look at how we can avoid bias in the recruitment process, let’s look at how it presents.


Types of bias in the recruitment process


Bias exists on a spectrum. On one end there is blatant discrimination. On the other, it can be something superficial like a candidate sharing your favourite football team.

There are four main types of bias that can present during the recruitment process:

    • Confirmation bias: looking for information that confirms your existing beliefs.
    • Anchoring bias: forming an opinion from your first impression.
    • Attentional bias: not paying attention to all pieces of information equally.
    • Halo and horn effect: letting a good or bad trait overshadow everything else.


Three ways to avoid bias in the recruitment process


1. Use gender-neutral terms


A paper, aptly titled ‘Evidence that gendered wording in job advertisements exists and sustains gender inequality’, that the use of masculine or feminine words will skew an job advert to that gender. A higher presence of masculine words, for instance, suggested to the reader than there were more men in the occupation and reduced the feeling of “belonginess”.

‘Lead’ and ‘determine’ are defined as masculine. ‘Understand’ and ‘support’ are categorised as feminine. When writing your job ad, make a point to use gender-neutral (or gender-inclusive) terms. There are a number of terms to use: assemble, initiate, plan, design, define or construct.


2. Create a sense of belonging


The addition of an inclusion statement on your job advert can go a long way in letting applicants know that they will be welcomed into the organisation. It also signals the culture of the workplace, letting the applicant known that diversity is an important commitment for the business.

This is something like, “Monica Clare Recruitment supports their employees and wider community by building an inclusive, culturally capable and diverse workforce.  We welcome applications from people that identify with a disability, LGBTIQ+, refugees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or that come from culturally diverse backgrounds.


3. Evaluate every CV in the same way


A 2003 study in Boston and Chicago put blind hiring to the test. Researchers responded to job adverts with multiples of a CV, changing only the applicant’s name with one being white-leaning and one foreign-sounding. “Clearly white” names received 50 per cent more call-backs.

While we think we have moved well away from this 2003 mindset, this bias is still concerning and something to be aware of. When reviewing any CV, focus only on the important facts like skills or experience; gender or ethnicity do not have weigh on a candidate’s capacity to complete a job. SEEK now even provide a feature that allows recruiters to remove an applicant’s name from any CVs collected.


If you are looking for a new opportunity and are interested in accessing our networks, reach out to a  team member or call the office (02) 4967 5236.