5 Types of Bias in Recruitment and How to Avoid It

Bias in recruitment can arise in many different ways, and, more often than not, without awareness.

Unconscious bias in recruitment inevitably leads to less diverse teams, and could potentially hold your tech company back from progressing and developing further. Instead of forming unconscious opinions on potential candidates based solely on first impressions or unrelated criteria, introducing an awareness of how to avoid this can help you to promote conscious decision-making, leading to a more effective hiring process. In this article, we will go through 5 types of bias in recruitment, and what you as a tech business leader can do to avoid them. 

1. Gender Bias

While it might sound obvious, and you as a recruiter or business owner, we hope, would never knowingly judge a person based on their gender, there might be an underlying bias within your job speculation that could lean towards attracting a certain person. When recruiting talent via online platforms, the job description you publish automatically allows the candidate an insight into your overall company culture. Make sure to choose your words carefully, as they may have a strong impact. For example, masculine descriptions like ‘determined’ and ‘level-headed’ may discourage females from applying, even if they had all of the experience and knowledge required to be a great candidate for the role. On the other hand, words like ‘compassionate’ and ‘enthusiastic’ would draw in more women than men. 

Lucky for you, there are AI-powered tools on the market that can help you put together inclusive job descriptions, eliminating any stereotypically gendered words. By removing or replacing words to your liking, you can create something balanced and neutral. This will result in a job description that welcomes applicants of all genders, opening up your talent pool and your chances of attracting promising candidates for the role. Producing the perfect job description void of any bias takes time, so don’t worry if you don’t get there right away. Play around with your wording as you take on new employees, and one day you’ll find the perfect solution as to what works best for you and your tech company.

2. Diversity Bias

If we are being honest, it has been proven time and again by countless studies that Amir and Mahomed do not get the same number of interview callbacks as Emily and Samuel. As sad as it is, we still live in a world where cultural bias is inevitable. So, we should try our best to do all that we can to limit this as much as possible when hiring for tech companies. The best way to combat this type of bias is requesting a blind resume. This means applicants must remove their names from any application material they send over to you, ensuring that you or your recruiter are judging on skills and experience alone. This will maximise your chances of including the most relevant candidates for the role in the interview round, perhaps uncovering some real tech talent that may have been overlooked due to their name. The same can be said in the case of other forms of diversity, such as age. By removing the date of birth or age from a candidate’s application, this removes any temptation on the part of the recruiter to be swayed by a younger candidate versus an older one, for instance.

Paying extra attention to diversity in your hiring process could result in significant business advantages. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about hiring for cultural add in the workplace. Read our article here on how to apply the concept of hiring for cultural add when building your tech team. 

3. Personal Bias

For this one, there is no tool we can offer you, other than your own ability to demonstrate awareness of placing your personal judgements aside when carrying out the hiring process. One such tactic we do recommend is to make sure to structure your interviews in a way that each candidate is asked the same set of defined questions, as opposed to carrying out an unstructured interview whereby a candidate’s experience unfolds organically through informal conversation. This technique can help to minimise personal bias, as it encourages employers to focus on aspects that have a direct link to their tech performance. By restricting conversation flow, you won’t start to see the candidate as a younger version of yourself, or of someone you like. 

Unstructured interviews leave more room for a conversation to turn off topic. Before you know it, you’ll be talking about how you studied at the same university and perhaps had some of the same classes and teachers. These seemingly irrelevant conversations actually play a much larger part in the hiring process than you would think. We are humans, after all, and your unconscious self will naturally gravitate towards the person you get on well with, and can see yourself becoming closer with in the future. Now, don’t get us wrong, we aren’t saying hire the person that seems to have no personality instead of the person who seems so relatable, especially if their experience and skills are on par. But, do make sure that you are aware of this potential bias when making your decision, so it won’t hinder you from confidently choosing the right person for the role. 

4. Resume Bias

Don’t just go off someone’s resume or curriculum vitae when considering them for the job. Ask your potential tech applicants to take a work sample test, whereby you can directly compare them to see if they will be effective in future job performance. These tasks should be very closely linked to the kinds of things the candidate will be doing in the job. For example, a coding task, or a quality assurance task, depending on the type of tech role you are hiring for. 

By evaluating these kinds of tests within the hiring process, your judgement to compare candidates is not only made a lot simpler for you, but it also promotes hiring off of real skill as opposed to just picking your personal favourite person out of the last two people going for the same role. It forces you as an employer to really consider the quality of a candidate’s work, as opposed to turning to unconscious bias on a whim to make that final decision.

5. Geographical Bias

Lastly, if your tech team allows for remote working, which seems to be the case for most businesses in the technology industry these days, then make sure your hiring process doesn’t limit the geographical scope of potential candidates. It’s no surprise that remote working is a great method when growing tech teams. If you need some extra convincing, read our article here about why tech teams are performing better than ever while working from home.

So, if you are allowing current employees to work remotely, and you have a flexible schedule in place to ensure your team can work efficiently and effectively from all over the world, then make sure not to let geographical bias get in the way when hiring for a new position. Whether you are hiring directly through online recruiting sites such as LinkedIn, or perhaps you are working with a tech outsourcing company, like us here at KWAN, don’t let yourself be limited by where your candidates are applying from. By opening your job position up to the world, this not only allows for a diverse and engaging tech team, but the level of talent you employ will be stronger and much more advanced as opposed to if you limited yourself to one city.

5 Types of Bias in Recruitment and How to Avoid It: Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while recruitment bias is undoubtedly difficult to avoid, and sometimes even hard to pick up on or notice at all, there are many ways that you, as a tech company owner or recruiter, can allow for a neutral and fairly judged hiring process. If you are looking for team extension services, then head over to our page, get in touch and access our database of tech experts from all around the world that will fit right into your team!