Blog

FAQ: Bias in the Workplace

Erin Iafelice

Reducing and preventing bias in the workplace has become a significant area of focus for organizations intent on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Whether you are a seasoned recruiter or new to talent acquisition, this FAQ will help you expand your knowledge of bias in the workplace and your ability to create hiring processes that are fast, friendly, and fair at your company.

What is bias in the workplace?

Human decision-making is notoriously subjective. Despite attempts to make decisions solely on objective criteria, people find it is nearly impossible to remove bias, which is a prejudice for or against something not based on reason or experience. There are nearly one hundred recognized cognitive biases and heuristics that influence human decisions, and many of these are unconscious biases (also known as implicit bias). Bias in the workplace can result in unfair treatment in all aspects of employment, from candidate selection and hiring to decisions about promotions, pay increases, and workforce reductions.

Some of the most common biases that influence decision-making in the modern hiring process are:

  • Confirmation bias – When we seek out information to confirm our pre-existing beliefs
  • Halo/horns effect – When we assume one piece of information (i.e., a candidate worked for a top competitor) generalizes to the rest of the candidate’s skills
  • Similarity bias – When we are drawn to people who have similar superficial characteristics, like race, political perspective, or sense of humor (and one of the most influential biases in hiring, as it can be a direct line to lack of diversity)

How does bias impact hiring processes?

Bias can enter the hiring process at any time. However, some of the most common ways bias is integrated into decision-making include using paper and online resumes during candidate screening, using unstructured interviews with multiple interviewers and no consistent evaluation process, and using social media profiles to “vet” candidates before job offers.

The results are negative and real for both candidates and organizations: Bias in hiring can mean highly qualified candidates are passed over for job offers, and organizations incur the costs of poor hires in terms of low productivity, high turnover and repeated recruiting, onboarding, and training work for HR.

How can recruiters reduce or prevent hiring bias in the workplace?

Recruiters can reduce bias in hiring by using sophisticated, scientifically valid

collection and analysis of predictive data facilitated by a science-based virtual hiring platform like Modern Hire. Modern Hire integrates efficient, candidate-friendly screening tools, predictive, scientifically validated pre-hire assessments, and a range of on-demand and live interviewing technologies.

Modern Hire helps recruiting teams limit or remove bias in several ways:

  • By enabling modern data collection approaches such as questionnaires and assessments that can be quantitatively scored and validated as accurate measurement of candidates’ job-relevant competencies
  • By enabling monitoring of the score differences among protected classes of candidates to identify and correct for adverse impact, and
  • By creating an end-to-end process that utilizes the industrial-organizational (I-O) science mentioned above and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to reduce the opportunities for bias to influence hiring decisions.
  • By making available ready-to-go hiring templates, called Hiring Blueprints, which enable recruiters to use Modern Hire’s scientific and fair hiring tools in recommended workflows to fast-track hiring for more than 40 critical roles.

How does bias impact the candidate experience?

Candidates’ perception of fairness in the hiring process is a differentiator in the candidate experience. Taking steps to reduce or remove bias through validated pre-hire assessments and structured interviews, and being highly transparent about those steps, can help organizations improve candidate experiences with the hiring process.  However, the reverse is true: Perceptions of unfairness can diminish the hiring experience, leading to candidate dropout and damage to the organization’s talent brand.

The Modern Hire platform enables recruiting teams to be transparent about the hiring process through more frequent communication with candidates. At the same time, Modern Hire allows recruiting teams to present the same fast, fair, and efficient hiring experience consistently to all candidates. 

How does removing bias in hiring empower recruiters?

Removing bias in the workplace, specifically in hiring processes with a platform like Modern Hire, can create advantages for recruiting teams such as:

  • Better hiring performance, as measured by new hire productivity and retention
  • Confidence for the recruiting team knowing that they are putting forward a well-qualified slate of candidates based on predictive data, and that they are not missing top candidates due to time and resource constraints when evaluating large talent pools
  • Ability to contribute to advancing their organization’s DEI goals

Job satisfaction is another value-add. Many recruiters choose their path because they genuinely care about people and want to see them find roles in which they will succeed. With the Modern Hire platform, recruiters can use predictive data to influence the objective hiring decisions most likely to benefit their candidates and their organization.

Have more questions about identifying bias in the workplace? Learn how your organization can make hiring decisions both valid and fair by downloading  the white paper, Data-Driven Selection for a More Diverse Workforce.