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The Key to Successful Recruiting?

28th March 2019

We’re sure that when you’re looking to hire a new addition to your team, you always want to get the best possible candidate for the job. But hiring the wrong candidate happens more often that you might think, with 85% of decision makers admitting to making a bad hire (according to a 2017 study). Depending on the seniority of the hire, making the wrong choice in the recruitment process could be very costly for your business.

So what causes bad recruiting decisions? Unconscious bias may well play a part.

What is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias refers to forming an instant judgement about a situation or person without being consciously aware of it. Your background, experiences & beliefs can all influence the unconscious judgements you make.

In recruitment, unconscious bias may unfairly influence who you hire increasing the chance you hire the wrong person. You may not want to admit that you’re susceptible to unconscious bias and think of yourself as open minded, but statistics say you’ve almost certainly judged a candidate on a variety of factors before even meeting them. And then if you do meet them for an interview, studies have shown that you’ll decide whether that candidate has got the job within 15 minutes.

Examples in recruitment:

an interview being conducted

An example in recruitment could be that you subconsciously favour a candidate who has a degree, because you associate their degree with intelligence. But the candidate with the degree may not necessarily be more intelligent that one without.

Another type of unconscious bias in recruitment is known as the Halo Effect – which means you focus on the good qualities of an interviewee and these overshadow any bad qualities.

The mood you’re in when you review applications or interview candidates may also skew how you see candidates, potentially viewing a good candidate in a negative light if you’re in a bad mood. Those applications or CVs you view later could also be viewed in an unfairly negatively, compared to those you review first in your process.

How is it harmful?

Unconscious bias in recruitment runs the risk of hiring the wrong candidate for your business. Depending on the nature and seniority of the hire, this could be a very expensive mistake. 

It can also have an adverse effect on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and studies have shown that diverse teams perform better.

How can you reduce unconscious bias?

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to reduce unconscious bias in your recruitment process:

Step 1: Be aware that unconscious bias exists:

If you’re aware of the problem and the potential harmful consequences of unconscious bias on your recruitment efforts, you can make steps to prevent it. The more you’re aware of yourself and how you’re potentially viewing candidates with bias, you’re more likely to call yourself out on it and cast aside your pre-judgements.  

Step 2: Review applications answer by answer:

job application to be completed

If you review applications answer by answer rather than reviewing the whole applications by order of submission, you could reduce the risk of unconsciously viewing candidates negatively whose applications are submitted later.

Step 3: Have a small team of decision makers to interview candidates:

Having a small team of decision makers with different backgrounds involved in the interview process can reduce unconscious bias towards a candidate from an individual.

Step 4: Define the role & qualities/skills needed for the role before any interviews take place:

Before any interviews take place, clearly define the role you’re recruiting for and the business needs of the role with your team of decision makers. Within your team, you should also start to realistically think about the skills, qualities and any education or training that you require the successful candidate to have.  

Step 5: Structure your interviews:

interview being conducted

After you have defined your role, use this to conduct a structured interview. Ask candidates the same set of standard questions around the job description, to help ensure each candidate has an equal chance.

The benefits of having a structured interview is that you will assess candidates on criteria which you have already defined as the most important for the role you’re recruiting for, rather than assessing candidates based on personal qualities or other criteria that aren’t relevant to the candidate’s ability to perform the role.

Once you have conducted all interviews, gather your team of Hiring Managers to review all the candidates against your pre-defined criteria, and you should find it easier to make an accurate decision.

All in all…

Unconscious bias is definitely an issue that Hiring Managers need to be aware of. If not, it can lead to unfairly judging candidates on criteria that don’t affect their ability to perform the duties of the role and ultimately could result in hiring the wrong candidate.

By making steps to eliminate unconscious bias from your recruitment process, you could increase your chances of making a successful hire who stands the test of time within your business.

If you are looking for an addition to your team (whether it’s temporary or permanent), contact your local Bromak branch to see how we can help you in your search!

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