Building a diverse workforce starts with talent acquisition. And while the usual recruiting process may value speed above all other metrics, identifying and growing a diverse talent pipeline — while working to create a more equal interview process for all applicants — must be a top priority for your business’s hiring and recruiting efforts.
If your company is serious about increasing diversity, you’ll need to look critically at your talent acquisition practices to determine how to improve each step of your hiring process. In reality, implicit bias can usually be found sprinkled throughout any company’s recruiting processes, giving certain candidates an unfair advantage and others an unjust disadvantage. Luckily, recruiters, hiring managers, and interview panelists have the power to rethink their company’s hiring practices and be agents of change within their organizations—with the right training.
Here’s how to ensure every employee is aware of how bias can impact the hiring process, how to avoid it, and how to create an equal and just candidate experience for all applicants.
Attracting The Right Candidates with Your Job Descriptions
Your company’s job descriptions (JDs) are often the first interaction a potential applicant has with your company. The right JD can leave an applicant excited to apply for a role, and even more excited to hear back from your team. A poorly written job description, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect, leaving an all-star applicant feeling underqualified and uninterested–potentially scaring off diverse talent.
Here are a few things to teach employees to keep in mind when they are crafting your company’s job descriptions:
- Avoid Using Gendered Language: Gendered language is made up of words that are typically associated with being feminine or masculine. For example, “collaborate” or “support” are traditionally considered more feminine characteristics, while “decisive” and “outspoken” tend to be more masculine. If your job posting skews too far to one side, you might be scaring off applicants of the other gender. To find a balance, use a tool like Textio which can check for gendered language and determine if your JDs skew too far to one side. Or, better yet, opt for gender-neutral terms or use they/them pronouns when possible.
- Rethink The Role’s Core Requirements: Most of the time applicants actually don’t need to be able to do a vast majority of the skills and experience outlined in a job description in order to do the job well. And, as studies show, men will apply to a job if they meet 60% of the criteria listed in a job description, while women and minorities are more likely to screen themselves out of the process if they don’t meet 100% of the qualifications.
“A black woman like myself knows that if there are 10 bullet points on a job description, I have to have 20 when in actual fact there are only five bullet points that are needed to be successful in this role,” stated Alexandria “Lexi B” Butler, an entrepreneur and diversity speaker. “Hiring managers and recruiters need to figure out what skills and experience a candidate really needs in order to perform a job successfully. For example, does this role really require a Bachelor’s degree? That requirement may eliminate a lot of qualified folks from your hiring process.”
Prioritizing a Diverse Talent Slate
Getting diverse talent to apply to your open roles is one thing, but getting them to advance through your hiring process can be more complicated. Some companies are taking a stand and making a commitment to present a diverse talent slate for every role they hire. For example, a business could say that for a final round talent slate with five candidates, at least one candidate must be a woman and at least one candidate must be a person of color.
If your company isn’t quite ready to take that approach, here are other ways to move diverse talent through your interview process:
- Unconscious Bias Training: We all have unconscious biases that make us more likely or less likely to pass someone along to the next interview stage. L&D teams need to ensure every employee on a hiring panel has undergone bias awareness training so they understand how their life experiences might be affecting their ability to objectively evaluate a candidate.
- Choosing The Right Software: Some applicant tracking systems (ATS) can automatically hide a candidate’s names from their resumes, as studies show that these applicants get fewer callbacks than similar applicants with white-sounding names. Removing a name from a resume can help a recruiter eliminate unconscious bias during the screening process and give minority candidates a better chance of moving forwards in the hiring process.
Building an Inclusive Interview Process
Once you’ve built your diverse talent slate, it’s time to start interviewing. Creating a fair and equal interview process can be tricky, but not impossible. Training your employees on bias awareness, remaining objective, and what not to ask during interviews is a great place to start. Here’s how else you can ensure your interviews run smoothly and fairing for every candidate:
- Create Diverse Hiring Panels: It’s important to remember that during the hiring process, candidates are interviewing you and your business just as much as you’re interviewing them. To help them picture themselves at your company, try to select a hiring panel that reflects the makeup of your organization, if possible.
For example, a female candidate might be turned off if she only speaks with men throughout her interview process, or a black applicant might second guess his decision if he doesn’t see or speak to anyone that looks like him in his conversations with the team. Representation matters, so do your best to build diverse hiring panels.
- Standardize Interview Questions: Our unconscious biases can actually make us more likely to ask harder questions to or more harshly critique the answers of a candidate we can’t identify with. To give each candidate a more equal playing field, instruct each of your interviewers to ask specific questions around 1-2 core competencies or skills. When you standardize these questions and your employees don’t go off book, they can more objectively weigh-in on a candidate’s ability to perform the job, and not the degree to which they liked them.
While finding and hiring diverse talent should be a top priority for every organization, the challenge doesn’t end there. Attracting diverse employees is meaningless if you can’t retain them. Building a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging takes time, but there’s no time like the present to start.
Try Hone’s inclusion and belonging trainings for you and your team with our free 14-day trial. You can enroll in any of our D&I classes on subjects like avoiding microagressions, leading with empathy, and leading compassionate conversations. Give your managers the skills they need to engage diverse teams and ensure every employee feels seen, valued, and heard at work.