5 Steps to Reducing Bias in Your Hiring Process

No one can argue the business case for having a diverse and inclusive workplace. Studies show that having a more diverse workplace positively impacts financial performance, quality of work, employee satisfaction and innovation.

According to a McKinsey & Company report, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 per cent more likely to show financial returns that are higher than industry medians.

The challenge is that we know the hiring process is somewhat subjective and that, despite our best intentions, unconscious biases relating to race, ethnicity, age or appearance often impacts our decision making.

Understanding Implicit Bias:

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. According to HR Professional, “It speaks to how our brains are hard-wired because of the various experiences we’re all subjected to: where we live, where we work, the messages we’ve processed and internalized over a lifetime.”

Because these biases occur at a subconscious level, we tend not to be aware that they exist or recognize when we’re acting on them. This can create a hiring blind spot, where decisions may be made about candidate fit based on criteria that is irrelevant to the job. For instance, you might give preference to a candidate that went to a particular university or discount someone based on their name or ethnic group.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to recognize and reduce these biases by using more objective standards.

5 Steps to Reduce Bias in Your Hiring Process: 

1. Awareness – A good first step, is to help decision makers identify their own implicit biases and recognize the blind spots in their processes. One of the most widely used self awareness tool’s is Harvard’s Implicit Association Test which measures associations between concepts and evaluations or stereotypes. Whether through formal or informal awareness training, these insights provide the foundation from which you can develop goals, policies and practices that support a more objective hiring process. 

2. Job Descriptions – Review existing job descriptions to ensure they are inclusive and use gender-neutral descriptions and words that won’t deter specific individuals from applying for the position. Research has shown that women are less like to apply for jobs that contain masculine language (i.e. adjectives like “competitive” or “determined”) or a long list of desirable qualities, as they perceive that they are not suited to the role.

3. Blind Resumes – Consider introducing a blind, systematic process for reviewing resumes that focuses on the specific qualifications and characteristics required for the position vs characteristics like name or sex that can lead to implicit biases. There are several software programs that can support you with this process like Recruiteze or Pinpointhq.

4. Pre-employment Assessments – Include a validated pre-employment assessment like PXT Select, that uses data and science to understand if someone’s personality, skills and traits match the requirements of a specific job. This helps to increase objectivity in the selection process. A well validated test does not evaluate for age, sex, race or any other criteria that can lead to biases. Pre-employment assessments also adhere to strict federal guidelines, which encourages more equitable and non-discriminatory hiring processes. 

5. Structured Interviews – Set concrete criteria for the job and implement a standardized task-based interviewing process with defined interview questions. Consider using interview panels and introducing an interview scorecard that grades candidate responses to each question on a predetermined scale to provide a basis for comparison and validation between interviewers.

Implementing all of these steps can’t guarantee a completely unbiased hiring process but are critical in equipping your organization with the right tools and processes to significantly reduce its impact. Reducing implicit bias not only helps to create fairer hiring practices; it also helps to increase the chances that the people you do select are the most likely to succeed in the job.



Lucy Arkell, General Manager

LePhair Associates Ltd.


LePhair Associates provides employee assessments, training and consulting services to businesses that appreciate their people are essential to their success. With more than 60 years of combined P&C industry experience, we have a track record of helping businesses achieve breakthrough results in company performance. Our advanced assessment information combined with customized sales, service and leadership development training programs, helps companies get the right person in the right job, develop processes to coach, train, manage and motivate them to greater success