Go to top of page

Interrupt bias during recruitment

Be aware of unconscious biases at each step of the recruitment and selection process:

  • Identifying role requirements
  • Attracting applicants
  • Selecting the candidate
  • Appointing the employee

Identifying role requirements

Plan and prepare early on to identify what the right person for the role looks like and how to attract them.

Look at diversity within the team and target the difference that is lacking. For example, people with disability, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, women, multicultural, and young or older people.

Consider all suitable flexible work arrangements to promote for the role, as this will increase the pool of potential applicants for recruitment and higher duties arrangements.

For short-term opportunities while recruitment is underway, target high potential and high performing talent with diverse backgrounds and experience for higher duties to build capability of women in more senior roles.

Review the position description to ensure gender neutral language and inclusive themes are present. Women can place different values than men on job description cues when making decisions on potential fit. Gendered language is contained not just in job titles, but throughout the job description, such as ‘dominate the market place, aggressively meet targets, or drive teams to lead results’. Research shows female applicants make decisions on whether they would belong in an organisation based on gendered wording in job descriptions-irrespective of qualifications and skills match.

Recruitment agencies or specialist organisations can review the role description and provide gender neutral wording recommendations for consideration.

To demonstrate the organisation’s gender inclusive processes and behaviours identify a suitable and capable female panel member.

Panel members undertake unconscious bias training. It is not necessary that this training is undertaken before every recruitment process.

Attracting applicants

Use non-traditional advertising avenues in addition to SmartJobs, including:

Promote benefits that attract a wide and diverse pool of applicants to apply and include items in the job description and advert, such as:

If a recruitment agency is engaged, request they actively promote the flexible work arrangements during the initial screening stage.

Request only a resume and a 1 to 2 page letter outlining their interest in the role in the initial application as this will increase the overall pool of potential applicants from outside of the public service.

Track the number and ratio of diverse applicants and extend or adjust the attraction campaign to increase low representation in diverse groups.

Selecting the best candidate

Panel members can complete the Harvard Implicit Association Test to assess their unconscious biases, before they start the recruitment and selection process.

Blind shortlist (removing names or diversity specific information) when selecting applicants to progress.

Use selection tools that suit the role. Interviews are not always the best indicator of performance. Other options include work samples, presentations, assessment centres, psychometric testing, and in-tray exercises.

Track the number and ratio of diverse applicants throughout the process, identify significant ratio shifts at different selection points and consider the underlying cause/s to address. For example, if 50% of applicants were female and only 10% of those interviewed were female the shortlisting process requires review and adjustment.

If there is little to no diversity in the schedule for interview, identify at least one capable and suitable diverse candidate (e.g. female) from the shortlist for an interview and note this as a diversity initiative in the selection report. If no capable and suitable candidate is there, consider reviewing, adjusting and completing the attraction process again.

Review interview questions:

  • ensure they are not in favour of a particular gender or exclude diverse backgrounds
  • ensure they use gender neutral language
  • include a values based diversity question to ask applicants to ensure you are recruiting people who value diversity
  • structure as a two-way discussion which focuses on transferable skills rather than pre-determined words or phases.

Appoint the employee

Undertake an evaluation process with the successful candidate to determine if expectations of role and department were aligned. Or survey all shortlisted candidates to understand individual perceptions of the recruitment process.

Resources