It is clear that a lot rests on the people we recruit: ‘People are our greatest assets’ has become a cliché, but within it lies a significant kernel of truth. The decisions you make affect not only the productivity of your business, but the ease of your day-to-day life.
- There will always be bias in recruitment, the key is to be aware of it
- Be aware that certain types of recruitment, and certain interview questions, only favour a certain type of candidate
- Use social media to find out more about your candidates
Recruitment is always subject to inherent biases. You want someone who fits your organisation, but this can mean recruiting a type, which will come with its own problems. It may mean a lack of diversity in the organisation and therefore a tendency to ‘group think’. Equally, organisations tend to select for short-term fit, but may neglect to look at the type of characteristics a workforce will need into the future.
The solution is not to ignore someone’s ability to ‘fit’, but to be conscious of your own biases. Police officers are now subject to training on inherent biases, which is not designed to rid them of their prejudices, but to prevent them acting on them.
"Some HR specialists go as far as to suggest that interviews should focus solely on collecting information rather than making the decision."
With this in mind, each stage of the recruitment process can introduce some bias: For example, some studies have shown that recruitment adverts may attract more male or female candidates, depending on the language used. Also, evidence also shows that women often only apply for positions when they meet 100% of the required criteria, while men are happy to apply if they meet far fewer of the criteria. This is worth bearing in mind.
The interview process may favour more extroverted candidates, which is fine if you are recruiting for a client-facing role, less so if you are looking for a number-cruncher. Standard interview questions often focus on ambition ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ or showing off ‘what are your greatest strengths?’. You need to be sure that the type of candidates who answer successfully are the candidates you need. Some HR specialists go as far as to suggest that interviews should focus solely on collecting information rather than making the decision.
Most recruitment specialists argue that you shouldn’t do it alone. Other staff members will have to work with whoever you hire and it is only fair to include them, selectively, in the hiring process. It is also worth seeking feedback from both hired and rejected candidates to help improve your processes.
A final point would be not to neglect social media, both as a tool for recruitment (LinkedIn) and as a means to find out a little more about the candidates (Facebook, Twitter). This may give more insight into their personality than an interview ever would.