Tools & Tips

Three strategic steps you can take to reduce bias during candidate screening

Overcoming bias in the screening stage requires not just the right technology but an overall strategy as well. Here are three strategic steps you can take to reduce bias during candidate screening.

1) Identify If a Bias Exists During the Screening Stage

Identify if a bias exists in your candidate screening by comparing the demographics of the qualified candidates who apply to your company to the people that get hired. Ideally, they should be similar.

Companies that fall under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) (e.g., 100 or more employees, government contractors with 50 or more employees and at least $50,000 in contracts) are required to collect data on the demographics of both their applicants and employees.

To ensure a lack of adverse impact, many companies will include a (voluntary) survey asking applicants about their ethnicity, race and gender during the application process. In addition, companies are required to submit an annual report on the race and gender of their employees.

If you find a discrepancy in the demographics of your applicants compared to new hires, the next step is to figure out why.

2) Examine the Reasons for Disqualifying Candidates at the Screening Stage

The best way to assess if a bias exists is to examine why candidates get disqualified at the screening stage. There may be reasons for disqualifying minority candidates unrelated to bias, for example, their work authorization status.

If, however, the qualifications of minority candidates are similar to non-minority candidates and they’re still getting rejected at a higher rate, that’s a problem. The key here is to have good data collection practices. Minority candidates getting rejected at a higher rate due to vague descriptions such as “not a good fit” likely won’t cut it with the EEOC or OFCCP.

If after analyzing your numbers, you’re still confused why minority candidates are getting disproportionately rejected at the screening stage, then you might have an unconscious bias problem on your hands. At this point, you should consider a technology solution.

3) Invest in Technology That Helps Reduce Bias During the Screening Stage

An unconscious bias is a mental shortcut we use to process information and make decisions quickly. These biases are automatic, outside of our awareness, and pervasive: Wikipedia lists more than 180 biases that affect our decision making, memory and social interactions.

Activities like resume screening that require processing large amounts of data very quickly and making decisions about people are especially susceptible to unconscious bias.

via Bias in Hiring Isn’t Going Away—Here’s How to Combat It

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