Eliminating Unconscious Bias in the Recruiting Process

By Vira Trevino-Garcia, Certified Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter – Recruiting Director

In the efforts to promote diversity, the recruiting process is one of the most vulnerable functions to be riddled with biases, including unconscious biases. Research consistently shows that in two resumes with the same qualifications, the resume with a name that “seems to be a white person” is twice as likely to be contacted for an interview over a resume of someone with a name that seems to be a minority. The unconscious, or in some cases conscious, bias of the recruiter makes it hard for candidates with ethnic-sounding names to advance in the process.

Biases in the job description can occur when words are used that will discourage minorities to apply. Furthermore, when a candidate from an underrepresented group does make it to the interview process, they are less likely to get called back for a second interview even when their qualifications are equal.

The first steps to deconstructing bias in the process are easily implemented by any sized organization:

  • Recognizing our own unconscious biases is a critical first step. Harvard University has a free online tool where you can discover and assess your own biases.
  • Evaluating job descriptions and vetting for language that may be discouraging, such as words that are strongly feminine or masculine, will encourage a more diverse group of candidates to apply.
  • Explore the possibility of using blind resumes to discourage any biases with names.
  • Create a structured, consistent interview process where the same questions are asked with every candidate and utilize an objective scorecard.

Removing the unconscious biases from the recruiting process is a must that every company should be doing to improve equity and hire a broader range of qualified candidates.