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Mitigating Unconscious Bias in the Hiring Process: A Short Guide for Local Authorities

Mitigating Unconscious Bias in the Hiring Process: A Short Guide for Local Authorities

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

Understanding Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias refers to the prejudices or unsupported judgements we hold outside of our awareness. These biases often stem from our backgrounds, cultural beliefs, and personal experiences. Common perceptions such as ‘young people are good with technology’ or ‘women are more caring than men’ are prevalent throughout society, and no doubt influence our decision making on some level.

Even the most well-intentioned HR professionals and hiring managers can fall prey to the influences of unconscious bias. Recognising and mitigating these biases can positively affect our ability to attract and retain top talent from all walks of life.

A diverse workforce brings many organisational advantages, including wider cultural understanding, innovation of thought, and a broader talent pool. This has important financial implications for local government organisations looking for innovative ways to improve cost efficiencies in an era of budgetary constraint.

Unconscious Bias in the Hiring Process

There are a number of practical steps you can take to mitigate unconscious bias when recruiting, assessing, and interviewing potential employees. These steps include:

  1. Diversifying recruitment

HR professionals should seek out specialist recruitment agencies, attend diversity job fairs and events, and use a range of job boards to advertise vacancies. Agencies such as accept listings from local government authorities and other publicly funded bodies.

  1. Using ‘blind’ CVs

By redacting information on name, age, ethnicity, and gender, HR personnel can give hiring teams the best chance of focussing only on skills, experience, and potential.

  1. Encouraging collaborative hiring

Having a diverse hiring team makes it less likely for individual biases to influence the hiring outcome. A variety of perspectives can balance the decision-making process and lead to more objective assessments.

  1. Structuring Interviews

With uniform, structured interview questions in place, hiring teams mitigate the chance for bias. When each candidate receives the same questions (and in the same order), responses can be assessed objectively.

  1. Separating post-interview feedback

When hiring as a team, it is common to share feedback with the group post-interview. However, leading comments may influence others on the team – if possible, immediate feedback should be given to someone outside of the hiring team who can record the feedback objectively.

  1. Asking for feedback

If the candidate was not successful in securing the role, it can be useful to ask them how they felt during the hiring process. Were there any stages or processes they found to be biased? This feedback can then be incorporated into the hiring strategy.

  1. Balancing ‘first impressions’

As human beings, we tend to judge people on first impressions. We then seek to reaffirm these initial impressions by placing positive attributes on subsequent interactions. To help overcome these biases, write a list of pros and cons to assess individuals as objectively as possible, before sharing with the hiring team.  

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