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How to Eliminate Unconscious Bias When Hiring Remotely?

Recruit CRM Published on Mar 28, 2022

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One of the major changes the tech industry had to make, due to the pandemic, was moving large chunks of the hiring process online. With almost everything going digital, it was the logical step to take.

Two years later, there has been an explosion of automated tools for every step of the hiring lifecycle.

In addition to that, remote work is here to stay. There are newer models of work now where people want to have the choice of working full-time remotely or opting for a hybrid workplace.

The 2021 study by Owl Labs shows that 1 in 3 employees are willing to quit their jobs if they can no longer work remotely post-pandemic.

Remote hiring processes and hybrid models of work have been a boon to both recruiters and employees. You may wonder, is there a flip side to this.

Unfortunately, remote interviewing has also led to certain bias-related challenges—mostly of the unconscious kind.

Read more: Gender diversity in leadership positions: How can Executive recruiters take care of this?

4 Types of Biases That Creep up in Virtual Hiring

diversity hiring bias

The first step to eliminating bias is to understand the different kinds of biases that you can fall prey to. Here are some ingrained prejudices that affect your recruiting decisions:

1. Location Bias

Diversity and inclusion in tech usually bring to mind terms like race, gender, and marginalized communities.

Come the pandemic, there is one more important element to add to the list—location diversity.

Most companies still follow archaic hiring practices with several in-person interviews, keep candidates waiting months for a decision, and expect long hours from new hires.

In a post-pandemic world, these requirements exclude people who can’t easily travel to and from the interview location, need to move across the country for a job, or cannot afford to live in an expensive location.

Organizations that don’t encourage remote interviewing are unconsciously enabling location bias. You could be losing out on skilled talent and hurting your diversity efforts due to this.

2. Proximity Bias

Studies show recruiters tend to unintentionally favor in-person interviews over remote candidates.

A great example of proximity bias, it is a mental blind area for most employers. There is a natural tendency towards building stronger impressions of people who are right in front of you.

Consequently, managers may also harbor preconceived notions like employees close to them are better workers and more productive than their remote/hybrid counterparts.

3. Affinity Bias

Remote interviewing or not, you tend to better relate to a person who has something in common with you.

The candidate could be hailing from the same city as you or attended the same school but it does subconsciously color the impression you form of them.

Ideally, such characteristics should not influence your hiring decisions and can lead you off-kilter when it comes to finding the right candidate for the job.

4. Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias occurs when you form an impression of a candidate based on social stereotypes or their resume and look for ways to prove it. When it comes to remotely interviewing candidates, this bias can spiral out of control.

In-person interviews were designed to minimize any kind of distractions during the interview. But with the candidate interviewing from home anything has the potential to go wrong.

Technical difficulties, disruptive sounds, and interruptions can cloud your judgment and end in you making an irrational hiring decision.

What Can Recruiters Do About Reducing Bias in Hiring?

hiring bias

If done right, remote processes have the potential to minimize bias in the hiring process. Automated remote hiring tools can help you provide a fair and objective evaluation of each candidate.

1. Strip Candidate Resumes of Any Identifiable Information

One way to deal with location bias is to simply not know where the candidate is currently staying. Hide any and all personal information from resumes like gender, ethnicity, college degree, and location.

This also improves your diversity hiring as you wouldn’t automatically form any first impression of the candidate based on gender or other background factors.

Depend only on testing the candidate for their skills and competency and how well they suit the job you’re hiring for.

2. Make Skills Assessments a Must

Virtual coding assessments are a great way to take bias out of the equation. Any good tool offers features like the ability to create highly accurate coding assessments with minimal technical knowledge, objective evaluation based on standard scoring parameters, and auto-generated performance reports.

So there is little to no decision-making that is colored by some kind of bias.

A remote hiring platform like HackerEarth goes one step further and provides recruiters with an option to hide any kind of personally identifiable information—and voila! An end-to-end bias-free assessment for finding candidates solely based on the right skill fit.

3. Select the Right Remote Interviewing Tool

Remote interviewing tools need to be candidate-friendly so it enables them to put their best foot forward. The tools should come equipped with a built-in real-time editor that is collaborative as well as offers objective feedback.

Instant feedback and recorded interviews from the tool will reduce the tendency to compare candidates’ performance with the most recently evaluated candidate. It mitigates hasty impressions and decisions by allowing the recruiter to revisit the interview with a fresh mind.

Another vital element of any remote interviewing tool should be having the option of a panel of interviewers instead of just one. Now the tool can only do so much—it falls on your shoulders to bring aboard more women, people of color, and people working remotely whose collaborative evaluation is a lot fairer and unprejudiced.

4. Have a Structured Remote Interview Process in Place

Consistency is as crucial as ever when it comes to hiring remotely. Structured interviews help greatly in reducing unconscious bias during the assessment phase. Having a standardized interview process in place ensures that objective measures prevail in decision-making.

Structured interviews help hiring managers to directly compare candidates’ job strengths instead of getting distracted by irrelevant information.

Allow each candidate to take the same assessment and answer the same questions—this enables you to provide a  more objective remote hiring experience rather than simply judging a candidate based on their resume.

Read more: What should recruiters look for in CVs when hiring remotely?

Remote Hiring is the New Way Forward

remote hiring bias

If you turn it on its head, remote interviewing and hiring processes can be the golden ticket to a fair, objective, and unprejudiced hiring experience.

Recruiters don’t have to pour through hundreds of applications, manually assess candidates for skill fit, or even write up feedback and performance reports of the multiple interviews they conduct in a single day, all the while trying to stay conscious of any bias that may be creeping in.

Let technology do the hard work and allow it to make hiring uncomplicated for you. Rely on accurate assessments and scoring of each candidate to make decisions based on their skills and expertise for the role.

Remote hiring casts a wider net in the hunt for talented individuals, and you may just find your perfect fit who will be a keeper! Say no to bias and have a truly equitable hiring process.

Written by–

Blogger-in-Chief at HackerEarth, Ruehie Jaiya Karri writes about the challenges of tech recruiting, and the ways in which companies can improve their hiring by focusing on skills, and weeding out biases. Here's her Twitter.