How Science-Backed Candidate Testing Can Remove Unconscious Bias in Your Hiring Process

Unconscious bias is a pervasive issue in hiring processes, often leading to less diverse and less effective teams. Despite good intentions, many hiring managers and recruiters fall prey to unconscious biases, which can influence their decisions based on factors unrelated to job performance.

A Deloitte survey of 3,000 individuals explored unconscious bias in the workplace, finding that 39% of employees shared that they experience it at least once a month, regarding it as “frequent”.

This is where science-backed candidate testing comes in, offering a solution to mitigate these biases and create a more fair and effective hiring process.

UNDERSTANDING UNCONSCIOUS BIAS

Unconscious bias refers to the automatic, mental shortcuts and stereotypes that our brains use to process information quickly. These biases can be based on race, gender, age, appearance, and other characteristics. Even though we may not be aware of these biases, they can significantly impact our decisions and behaviors.

In the context of hiring, unconscious bias can manifest in various ways:

  • Affinity bias: Favouring candidates who share similar backgrounds or interests.
  • Confirmation bias: Seeking information that confirms pre-existing beliefs about a candidate.
  • Halo effect: Letting one positive aspect of a candidate overshadow all other considerations.
  • Horns effect: Letting one negative aspect of a candidate overshadow all other considerations.

These biases can lead to unfair hiring practices, where candidates are evaluated based on subjective criteria rather than their actual qualifications and potential.

THE ROLE OF SCIENCE BACKED CANDIDATE TESTING

Science-backed candidate testing involves using validated, objective assessments to evaluate candidates’ skills, abilities, and fit for a role. These assessments are designed based on psychological principles and research, ensuring that they measure relevant competencies accurately and fairly.

There are several types of assessments commonly used in science-backed candidate testing:

  • Cognitive ability tests: Measure general mental ability, including problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and numerical aptitude.
  • Personality tests: Assess personality traits and behavioural tendencies that are relevant to job performance.
  • Skills tests: Evaluate specific skills required for the job, such as technical abilities or language proficiency.
  • Situational judgment tests: Present candidates with job-related scenarios and assess their judgment and decision-making skills.

BENEFITS OF SCIENCE-BACKED CANDIDATE TESTING

Implementing science-backed candidate testing in your hiring process offers several benefits that can help reduce unconscious bias and improve overall hiring outcomes.

Objectivity and Consistency

One of the main advantages of science-backed candidate testing is the objectivity it brings to the hiring process. Unlike subjective interviews or resume reviews, these assessments provide standardised, quantifiable data on each candidate’s abilities and traits. This helps ensure that all candidates are evaluated based on the same criteria, reducing the influence of unconscious bias.

Evidence-Based Decisions

Science-backed assessments are developed and validated through rigorous research, ensuring that they accurately measure the competencies they are designed to assess. This evidence-based approach provides a reliable foundation for making hiring decisions, increasing the likelihood of selecting candidates who will perform well in the role.

Diverse Talent Pool

By focusing on objective assessments rather than subjective judgments, science-backed candidate testing can help identify high-potential candidates from diverse backgrounds. This is particularly important for improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as it ensures that all candidates have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.

Predictive Validity

Research has shown that science-backed assessments have high predictive validity, meaning they are effective at predicting future job performance. This is in contrast to traditional hiring methods, such as unstructured interviews, which are often influenced by unconscious biases and have lower predictive validity.

IMPLEMENTING SCIENCE-BACKED CANDIDATE TESTING IN YOUR HIRING PROCESS

To effectively reduce unconscious bias in your hiring process using science-backed candidate testing, consider the following steps:

Define Job Requirements Clearly

Start by clearly defining the competencies and skills required for the role. This will help ensure that the assessments you choose are relevant and aligned with the job requirements.

Choose Validated Assessments

Select assessments that have been scientifically validated and shown to predict job performance accurately. Look for assessments that are developed by reputable organisations and backed by research.

Train Your Hiring Team

Ensure that your hiring team understands the purpose and benefits of science-backed candidate testing. Provide training on how to interpret assessment results and incorporate them into the overall hiring process.

Combine Assessments with Other Methods

While science-backed assessments are valuable, they should be used in conjunction with other hiring methods, such as structured interviews and reference checks. This holistic approach will provide a comprehensive view of each candidate’s abilities and fit for the role.

Monitor and Evaluate

Regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your hiring process. Collect data on the performance and retention of hires made using science-backed assessments and compare it to previous hiring methods. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your process continues to reduce unconscious bias.

Many organisations have successfully implemented science-backed candidate testing to reduce unconscious bias and improve their hiring outcomes. For example:

  • Google: Google uses structured interviews and a variety of assessments to evaluate candidates. By focusing on data and evidence-based methods, they have been able to reduce bias and make more objective hiring decisions.
  • Unilever: Unilever uses online assessments, including cognitive ability tests and situational judgment tests, to screen candidates. This approach has helped them identify diverse talent and improve the overall quality of their hires.

GET IN TOUCH

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how you can address unconscious bias through  science-backed assessments and ensure that you are hiring the best talent for your organisation, get in touch with our team here, or call 03 9040 1700 to learn more.

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