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With increased efforts toward diversity and inclusion in the workplace, many employers are looking for ways to rid their hiring and recruitment processes of any form of discrimination.  Some are taking proactive measures to lure more diverse applicants. While others take the additional step of implementing blind resume screening methods. However, there is still one source of bias that employer may not be addressing because they do not recognize that it exists – unconscious bias. Here is what you need to know.

What Does “Unconscious Bias” Mean?

Unconscious bias stems from social stereotypes about certain groups of people that we all form form but are often unaware of consciously. According to science, out brains make intuitive decisions before we are actually aware of it and those decisions are not immune to implicit bias. Employers, and particularly hiring decision makers may hope that logic and objectivity drive their decision making, but the reality is there is unconscious activity in our brains that affects our judgements and decisions.

How Does Unconscious Bias Impact Recruitment?

Individuals involved in the hiring process can be affected by unconscious bias when they form an opinion about an applicant based solely on first impressions and related stereotypes. Early in the hiring process, an applicant’s picture on a resume, their name, or where they are from could influence your opinion more than you are even aware. When you prefer one candidate over another simply because the first one seems like someone you would like to socialize with, or because you like the way they dress or their accent, that is an example of unconscious bias. Basically, unconscious bias impacts your decisions, both positively or negatively, based on criteria that is irrelevant to the job.

Adjusting Your Interview Process

One of the best ways to counter unconscious bias is to make adjustments to the interview process. First, it can be helpful to develop a structured interview plan for each position while developing or revising the job description. You can create interview questions that are directly related to the applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities related to the job. However, the interviewers must be disciplined about asking all applicants the exact same questions. This allows the hiring decision makers to base their decisions on informed comparisons or applicants’ capabilities rather than their first impressions. Another suggestion is to implement an interview team that discusses all applicants before a decision is made. This allows for others to potentially spot any unconscious bias that is clearly unrelated to the job requirements.

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