The Recruiting Intelligence Blog

This Bias Can Kill Your Recruitment Process. Here’s How To Fix It.

Aida Fazylova - Nov 12, 2019 5:15:00 AM

Savvy recruiters know to watch out for hiring biases as they seek out the best candidates. Unconscious partialities like the halo effect can derail good recruitment by overemphasizing character traits that have no relevance.

While we’ve come a long way in diminishing the effects of stereotypes and other prejudices, one subtle bias still seeps in at even the most forward-thinking companies. The like-me bias - also known as the ‘similar-to-me’ effect - has been a particularly persistent thorn in every ethical recruiter’s side.

As its name implies, the like-me bias encourages individuals to seek out people similar to themselves. This partiality can exist in terms of educational background, race, gender, as well as more intangible characteristics like work ethic, likes and dislikes, or personality.

While you’ll always want to find candidates with certain similarities - for example, every employee should agree with your company values - reducing the effects of the like-me bias in recruiting is essential. 

Spotting (And Stopping) Like Me Bias

One of the most famous studies on like-me bias was conducted across several American orchestras, where a mere 6% of musicians were female. Wanting to improve these poor numbers, the conductors implemented a blind-hiring policy, whereby the identity and gender of the applicants were hidden - literally, behind an opaque screen - as they auditioned.

The results were clear and immediate: 30% more women were hired after blind-hiring was implemented. By negating the effects of like-me bias, the orchestra was able to grow closer to gender parity and improve the quality of their performances.

These kinds of results bode well for companies as well, especially since companies with gender parity at the executive level achieve 21% more revenue. Yet companies aren’t orchestras, and a resume isn’t a performance piece. The art of hiring the best candidates without bias needs more than just anonymity to thrive.

The Chatbot Difference

One interesting yet somewhat disheartening addendum to the blind orchestra study came later on, when jurors realized the sounds of a candidate’s footsteps could give away their gender. Applicants were eventually asked to remove their shoes prior to auditioning to counteract this.

The lesson here is simple: Even when you reduce possible biases in a way that works, the potential for weaknesses in the system remain. Resolving this issue can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge when the right techniques aren’t in place.

This is why recruitment must be an iterative process, one that reduces the likelihood of human bias while consistently updating expectations based on need.

Luckily, HR departments have cutting-edge tools to help them not only improve the hiring process, but also find flaws and highlight improvements to be made. One way this process succeeds is through data collection with AI. In-depth reporting during the candidate screening process shows recruiters who’s applying from where. These kinds of insights help improve campaigns over time, thereby making bias reduction a continual process - one that can lead to greatly improved results.

For more tips on reducing bias in hiring, be sure to check out our free ebook to learn how AI can help attract more diverse candidates.

A bias-free workplace

Reducing bias in hiring leads to a more diverse workplace, which in and of itself has its own benefits. Teams that come from a variety of backgrounds have a greater depth and breadth of original ideas - not to mention the higher profits coming from more diverse companies.

Even with AI chatbots in place, recruitment is still a human-led process. The potential for unconscious errors remains, however companies with a strategy in place to create improvements are the ones that will attract the best possible pool of candidates. It may start with blind hiring, but insightful data can show hiring managers the next step - if they have the right AI tools to find the way forward.If you’d like to apply these data-driven solutions to your company’s hiring, contact us for a free demo today, and see how XOR can make the difference in your next recruitment drive.

Ready to learn more? Get the Complete How-To Guide on Recruitment Chatbots Here

Topics: Automation- Recruitment- recruiting automation

Aida Fazylova

Aida Fazylova

Aida spent over seven years in talent acquisition before she founded XOR. She also studied artificial intelligence and co-founded OpenDataScience, an online community of over 39,000 data scientists, researchers, and engineers. She is passionate about helping recruiters understand technology and build tomorrow's future of work. When Aida is not working she is exploring new hot pot restaurants around San Francisco.

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