How To Reduce Bias In The Hiring Process

Hiring Remote

We’re sharing 7 tips to reduce bias in the hiring process so your remote company can build more diverse, inclusive teams worldwide. Use this game plan now:

If your remote company doesn’t have a strategy to reduce bias in the hiring process, you may be struggling to build more diverse, inclusive teams.

After all, the success of every D&I mission starts with recruiting. 

Before candidates ever apply for a role at your organization, they’ll look for the top signs a company is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Everything from your job descriptions to your employee benefits can attract or turn away highly qualified candidates.

Unchecked biases and non-inclusive vibes in your hiring process damage your company’s reputation and tank your candidate experience scores. They may even qualify as discrimination in some countries.

But addressing and reducing bias in your recruiting and hiring process can lead to higher employee engagement, job satisfaction, retention, innovation, and profitability.

So the tips in this guide will help your team brainstorm a game plan to welcome candidates with different perspectives and boost belonging. 🙌 

Let’s begin by answering: 

What is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias refers to preconceived notions about a person based on their gender identification, race, religion, appearance, abilities, nationality, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.

These implicit biases may prevent applicants from receiving a fair shot at employment. They also tend to favor a specific type of candidate over others.

For example, remote teams may say or think things about candidates like:

  • They’re not a native language speaker, so it will be difficult to communicate effectively.
  • Their personality won’t jive with our progressive company culture.
  • They come from a country of workaholics, so we should choose them.
  • The internet in their country can be unreliable.
  • We’ll need new protocols to accommodate their abilities, and that’s too much to take on. 
  • Familiarity with legacy systems doesn’t mean they can keep up with our tech stack.
  • Can they really commit to a full workload with a baby on the way?

The worst part about unconscious bias is that people aren’t aware of how their assumptions affect employment opportunities. This “unconscious” prejudice separates bias from overt, intentional discrimination, yet the outcomes aren’t much different.

Like discrimination, bias in the hiring process prevents remote companies from attracting diverse perspectives or hiring overseas employees. It also halts the adoption of inclusive and equitable practices during promotions and lowers retention. 

So now that we’re on the same page, let’s dive into:

How Your Remote Company Can Reduce Bias In the Hiring Process

The importance of value alignment for remote companies should not be underestimated. Job seekers are prioritizing companies that respect and value people from all walks of life.

Follow these seven tips, and your organization will become one of them:

1. Uncover Unconscious Biases On Your Team and Use Awareness Training To Unlearn Them

The first step in addressing unconscious biases is identifying and owning up to them. Assessments like the free Harvard Implicit Association Test shed light on how people make assumptions and evaluate others.

Send this survey to your employees, so they can start recognizing their own implicit biases. Then they can hold themselves accountable for unlearning those harmful associations moving forward.

Awareness training can help. Ongoing diversity, inclusion, and anti-bias education should be part of your remote company culture

2. Set Diversity Metrics and Monitor Them

Whose voice is missing from your remote teams? 

Assess your departments to see how many underrepresented people your hiring team onboarded in the last few years. Look for: 

  • Young, middle-aged, and older employees
  • People who identify as female, male, and non-binary
  • LGBTQ+ representation 
  • Neurodiverse and differently-abled employees
  • Veterans
  • Multilingual team members 
  • Multi-racial and multi-national employees

If you notice one department consisting entirely of young men from Ivy League universities, that’s a red flag. 

Your remote company’s hiring strategy should include diversity goals to ensure you’re recruiting candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. So figure out what your teams are missing and how you can attract underrepresented candidates. 

Don’t forget to check your recruiting metrics each quarter to evaluate and improve your processes.

3. Update Your Job Descriptions with an Eye for Inclusivity

Job descriptions are usually the first encounter candidates have with your remote company. Though they’re meant to show candidates what you’re looking for, they also tell candidates a lot about your organization’s inclusivity.

Research shows non-inclusive job descriptions turn away 39% of applicants [*]. So if you want to get applicants to apply for your remote job:

Use gender-neutral language. It’s probably obvious that gender binary pronouns (he/she) automatically reduce your applicant pool by more than half.

But studies also show that words associated with male stereotypes, such as competitive, leader, driven, and confident prevent women from applying. Same goes for men who read stereotypical female adjectives like supportive and nurturing [*].

Removing gender-coded words from your job postings may increase applications by 30% [*]. So consider running your job description drafts through software like Textio, which highlights non-inclusive wording and gendered language.

[image source: Textio]

Skip the huge list of must-have qualifications. An oft-quoted statistic says men apply for roles when they meet just 60% of its requirements. But women will only apply if they meet 100% of them.

Here’s the twist: research shows just 16% of new hires actually possess the skills they need for their current and future roles [*].

So requiring candidates to have experience with specific software, technology, processes, etc., can prevent top talent from applying -- even though they can be trained on the job. 

Be an organization committed to upskilling; you’ll receive more eager candidates willing to learn. 

Focus on what someone in this role needs to do. Rather than describing your ideal candidate, tell job seekers how they can thrive in this position. Attract and entice them with all the ways you’ll value the skills they bring to the table.

Don’t be an ageist. Words like recent graduate, energetic, fast-paced, and digital native discourage older candidates from applying, despite their years of knowledge and experience.

💡 Read Next: How To Write a Job Listing that Sells

These tips will help you attract candidates from diverse backgrounds rather than unintentionally exclude them.

4. Favor Skills Assessments Over Resumes

Skills-based tests and practical assessments to judge how well a candidate may perform in their potential role are becoming more popular. HR teams say these may be more accurate indicators of success than resumes, “gut instincts,” and interviews combined.

Real-world tests allow hiring teams to gauge each candidate’s chops, regardless of where they live or their native language. Plus, online assessments help weed out under-qualified candidates to speed up your recruiting process.

GapJumpers lets employers create custom tests that mimic real, on-the-job challenges candidates may face. Their motto? Performance over privilege and pedigree.

Once your candidates take their assessments, you’ll have an unbiased score to help inform your final hiring decisions. 

5. Let AI Choose Your Top Candidates with Blind Hiring

“Bling hiring” refers to using technology to mask information that may reveal a candidate’s name, age, gender, race, educational background, location, nationality, etc.

This technology stems from the fact that just a name can trigger unconscious biases about an applicant’s gender, race, or nationality. 

By integrating this tech into the best applicant tracking systems for remote companies, your team can evaluate candidates on their skills, experience, and proficiencies. 

Some organizations take data-driven hiring decisions a step further by leveraging AI-powered intelligent insights.

AI can identify the best candidates for the role based on algorithms that crunch data points faster and more comprehensively than you have time for. Then your human team can select your top choices from that intelligently-whittled list.

6. Revamp Your Remote Interviews

To conduct successful remote interviews and reduce the chances of bias, your team should:

Assemble a diverse interview panel. Try to rotate the teammates you ask to join your interviews. Multiple perspectives reduce the chance of hiring biases and provide more varied first impressions of candidates. A diverse interview panel also shows new hires what your team is really like. 

Give each interviewer a candidate scorecard and compare scores post-interview to take everyone’s impressions into consideration. 

Always use structured, standardized interviews. Structured interviews use the same questions for all candidates, so everyone’s assessed on the same playing field. You can ask your department heads for job-specific questions, but those assessing company culture fit, work ethic, creativity, etc., should be standardized across the board.

Create candidate scorecards for an unbiased rating system. Some people are amazing during interviews despite lacking qualifications. Others let their anxiety overshadow their talent.

Candidate scorecards allow you to rank how well each candidate meets your expectations for the role. This prevents biases from creeping in and influencing how fit you perceive someone to be.

To create a candidate scorecard:

  1. Open a blank spreadsheet. 
  2. Use the top row to define what you’re looking for. Place each requirement, skill, personality trait, experience, etc., in its own column.
  3. Score your candidates’ answers on a scale from 1 to 5 during their interviews. Place your score for each requirement in the corresponding column. You can also weight scores in more essential categories.

Now you have a matrix for assessing each candidate. 

When you tally up all the numbers post-interview, you’ll have an unbiased overview of which candidates scored well overall and in each category. 

Your hiring decisions will be based on an actual assessment of how well someone fits your criteria rather than how well they interview, what they look like, where they went to school, etc.

7. Show Candidates You Value Inclusivity and Belonging In Your WWR Company Profile

You probably have a section on your website or career portal dedicated to your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. But did you know you can also add this intel to your WWR Company Profile?

Job seekers can check out your company profile to learn more about your organization’s mission statement as an equal-opportunity employer. You can also share the inclusive perks you offer in your competitive remote employee benefits package.

Update your company profile, and you’ll stand out as a remote company that welcomes and values everyone.

The Time To Reduce Bias In Your Hiring Process Starts Now

Unchecked unconscious biases may be excluding the best candidates from your interviews and employment offers. But by leveraging technology and the tips in today’s post, you can make meaningful strides in your goal to attract and retain more diverse and inclusive remote teams.

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Psst! Let’s put today’s tips into practice! When you’re ready to post your remote job ad on We Work Remotely, use the advice we shared to craft an enticing job description that welcomes all qualified applicants. You’ll receive tons of incredible talent from all over the world!

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