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Quite aside from ethical issues, bias in the recruitment process may be detrimental to your business. By favouring certain candidate profiles, you risk creating teams whose make-up is too similar. Here are some tips to avoid falling into this trap.

1. Don't look at the candidate's name first 

First impressions start with the name at the top of the candidate’s CV. From the moment a recruiter sees the applicant’s gender or cultural background, there’s a tendency to make certain subconscious assumptions.

The simplest way to avoid this is to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications before looking at their name.

“I think the best way to eliminate bias is not to read the name and instead start with the candidate’s experience. I’ve always made it a point of honour to evaluate an applicant’s CV by focusing on their expertise, regardless of who they may be,” explains Audrey Chrétien, CRHA, Division Director, Industrial, Manufacturing, at St-Amour.  

2. Do standardize your interview questions

To ensure the impartiality of the interview process, it needs to be structured and consistent, Audrey emphasizes. For example, using a pre-established interview template for each candidate is an excellent way of doing this. The questions may vary somewhat depending on the position to be filled, but the basic approach should be similar across the board.

“I suggest adopting the same interview method for each candidate by using identical selection criteria and objectives,” Audrey adds. “The interview should always begin in the same way for every candidate who is evaluated. Ideally, you should ask the same questions to everyone who applies for the same position.”
 
3. Don't focus too much on personality fit

Judging whether a candidate’s personality suits the company is a subjective factor that’s sometimes given too much importance. When it comes to making hiring decisions, Audrey encourages sticking to objective criteria such as competencies.

“You don’t have to hire someone who will become your best friend. What’s important is to work with qualified people who do their job. They don’t have to go to your house for dinner on Friday night,” she observes.

Indeed, a candidate with a different personality profile can benefit a business by providing a fresh perspective and challenging colleagues to move outside their comfort zone.

4. Do involve multiple people in the process 

To avoid biased decision-making in your recruitment process, ask for at least one second opinion from someone who’s not part of your immediate entourage or day-to-day activities.

This is where a recruitment agency can add value, since it provides an external and, above all, impartial viewpoint. It’s worth noting that this can counteract not just negative prejudices but also positive biases favouring a certain type of candidate. 

“Managers have a natural tendency to hire candidates with the same profile again and again. An agency will suggest someone different. The more rigorous the process is and the more points of view there are, the less risk there is of bias,” Audrey advises.

5. Don't close your mind to other industries

It’s a candidates’ market right now. For this reason, employers need to become more flexible about who they hire, which has various benefits.

“Companies are trying things and taking risks – for example, by hiring candidates aged 55 and over,” says Audrey. “I think that’s a good thing. Employers who don’t open themselves to diversity won’t survive the labour shortage.” 

Audrey recalls a client in the food packaging industry who needed to replace a manager. The company was struggling to find a qualified candidate within the industry. St-Amour was able to meet their needs by broadening the search and finding someone with relevant expertise in a different industry. 

In 2020, you can’t afford to be biased. It’s all about turning the labour shortage to your advantage by finding the best person for the position to be filled, regardless of their background,” she concludes. 

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