A diverse workplace has many advantages. Do you also want to make a prejudice-free start? Then put your gut feeling aside and focus on competencies.
Is diversity at work necessary? Of course! Diversity creates dynamism and creativity - something that affects the work environment as well as the bottom line on the income statement. Of course, it is forbidden to discriminate against anyone based on gender, age, disability or religious belief. Yet many workplaces and industries still remain quite homogeneous. The solution? Recruit differently!
Traditional recruitment is very person dependent
The first step is reviewing resumes and selecting those suitable for a follow-up interview. The problem is that we humans are not objective. Anyone assessing a resume or interviewing a candidate does so with a filter. This filter consists of both our conscious and unconscious prejudices.
"Anyone reviewing a resume or interviewing a candidate does so through a filter of biases."
Our prejudices greatly influence our judgment of other people. A 2012 study by Eriksson, Johansson & Lagenskiöld concluded that young people who do not have children and are of European descent are more likely to find a job. The study also found that being overweight has a negative impact on your chances.
The slumbering presence of prejudice
There are several psychological mechanisms that are set in motion when we meet other people. One is the halo effect through which we attribute positive qualities to an attractive person, another one is the equality effect that makes us strongly attracted to people who are most like ourselves. Both are not useful at all when recruiting, as surely the person you'd want to hire is simply the one best suited for the job?
Should we replace recruiters with robots? No, that is not necessary either. Keeping your biases in check and using more objective methods will help treat all candidates equally. So ignore your gut feeling and focus on competencies, or in other words the qualities and knowledge that are important for the role.
5 tips for those who want to recruit without prejudice
1. Create a structured recruitment process that is the same for all applicants
In order for the process to run smoothly, the candidates must go through the same steps in the same order. This means, for example, that the candidates have to answer the same questions during the interview. This is not always the case, according to a 2018 study by Wolgast, Björklund & Bäckström. The study found that recruiters tended to ask candidates different questions, depending on their origin. While indigenous candidates were asked questions regarding the job requirements, candidates with a foreign background were asked questions about how they would fit into the group.
2. Create a good job profile
What type of person fits the role best?
One way to find out is to research what behaviours are successful for those who work or have worked in this role. Start with this when you create your job profile. Know what you are looking for in a candidate and what not, this way you assess everyone in the same way.
3. Create a relevant set of requirements
Think carefully when formulating the position requirements. Do applicants really need five years of experience? Maybe two or three years is enough, which will allow more people to sign up. You should not assign value to what is not relevant for the job. If Dutch language skills are not a requirement, then they should be irrelevant. All applicants must be assessed against the same requirements profile.
4. Introduce a personality test early on in the process
Testing is a good tool for mapping out the personalities and talents of candidates. By testing everyone who meets the requirements early on, you reduce the chance of older applicants, or people with foreign-sounding names, for example, to be excluded. Invite those who best fit your job profile for an interview. Chances are they are not exactly the same candidates that would have been selected in a resume review.
5. Ask the right interview questions
One of the better ways to predict an applicant's future behaviour is to look at past behaviour. A job interview, a good complement to a personality test, is an excellent opportunity to find out how the candidate has behaved in different situations. For example, how did he or she deal with stress, difficult customers or risky situations? Remember to ask everyone the same questions and to have a clear template defining good and less good interview answers, so that you can assess them as objectively as possible.