Ben is responsible for client delivery work at Test Partnership and usually serves as the main client of contact. He holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and is a registered test user of ability and personality testing.
Fortunately, employing organisations the world over are finally starting to recognise the social impact of their hiring practices. Additionally, explicit prejudice against vulnerable groups is thankfully declining, as people adopt more progressive and inclusive attitudes. However, unfair hiring practices still persist, often driven by implicit and unconscious bias rather than direct prejudice. To combat this, I will outline the best ways to avoid unfair hiring practices and minimise unintended bias in employee selection.
If you goal is to minimise the impact of unconscious human bias in the recruitment process, it makes sense to insulate recruitment processes from human input as much as possible. Although most HR professionals and hiring managers mean well, no one is 100% free from unconscious bias, and this fact needs to be accounted for. This effect is most pronounced when incorporating manual CV sifting, which is notorious for introducing implicit bias into recruitment processes.
Rather than relying on CV sifting, which research shows to be both completely ineffective and incredibly susceptible to implicit biases, online assessments represent a fair and effective method of short-listing, which cannot be pervaded by bias. As a result, organisations are well advised to automate early screening processes as much as possible, using valid and reliable psychometric assessments to form shortlists.
Behavioural assessments, such as personality questionnaires, show particularly low levels of adverse impact against protected groups, making them ideal diversity and inclusion (D&I) tools. Not only will incorporating personality questionnaires increase the probability of treating diverse candidates fairly, but it will also dilute any existing adverse impact caused by other assessments in the selection process.
Personality questionnaires and other behavioural assessments are often reserved for the later stages of recruitment, minimising their ability to enhance D&I activity. However, behavioural assessments can be utilised during the initial stages of the recruitment process, helping to form effective short-lists. This will minimise the probability of losing candidates from protected groups, improving selection ratios.
Employment interviews are also a major hurdle for candidates from protected groups, as the unconscious biases of interviewers is likely to strongly influence the result. For example, interviewers could unwittingly give harder questions to diverse candidates, reducing their ability to answer questions effectively. Similarly, they could implicitly hold diverse candidates to a higher standard than other applicants, making success harder to achieve.
To minimise this, we strongly recommend using structured interviews when selecting candidates. Structured interviews involve asking the exact same questions to each candidate, standardising the process and limiting the scope of bias. Additionally, we recommend using a formal scoring criteria, protecting candidates from the subjective whims of potentially biased interviewers.
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Lastly, we strongly recommend incorporating a formal talent analytics strategy into your employee selection processes, especially for volume recruitment. As Peter Drucker once said “what gets measured, gets managed”, and this is particularly true when it comes to D&I activity. Without careful measurement of D&I performance outcomes, organisations can never be sure whether or not their strategies are working.
Moreover, using predictive analytics, it is possible to enhance the effectiveness of recruitment processes, further minimising unconscious bias and reducing adverse impact. For example, statistical techniques such as Pareto optimisation can be used to maximise both the predictive power of the recruitment process, while also minimising any adverse impact, helping organisations achieve both goals simultaneously.
Unfair hiring practices are a major cause of inequality and inequity between groups, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reducing well deserved social mobility. As a result, it is the responsibility of all employing organisations to take an honest look at their recruitment processes and find room for improvement. The first step in this process, is to accept the limitations of human decision making, and rely on more structured, standardised, and automated solutions for recruitment, insulating recruitment processes from unconscious biases and thus maximising fairness.
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