Do your recruiting and interviewing skills have an unconscious bias when it comes to diversity?

Creating diverse teams requires most functions in a business to play an equitable role. But how do recruiters and talent and hiring managers – internally and externally – ensure that candidates experience a fair process, that is free from all conscious and unconscious biases?

Identifying your biases

The reality is we all have biases and are prejudice in some way. Intentional and non-intentional. Known and unknown. Seen and unseen. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) was created by a group of scientists who, through a long-term research project at Harvard University, aim to measure people’s preferences for certain social groups over others. How it works is simple: you are given two sets of pictures and two lists of words with positive and negative associations. The pictures and words flash at random on a screen, and you make your selections when the words flash up at the same time as one of the sets of pictures. The Guardian newspaper reported that “more than 4.5 million people have taken some version of the test online, and the data collected so far indicates that the majority of us have a slight preference for our own race, and that more than 80% of us have a bias against the elderly.”

Eliminating biases from your decision making

If we as human beings hold recognised preconceptions against groups or associations, how much more do our conscious or unconscious biases impact our decision making as professionals in the workplace?

For recruiters, hiring managers and talent leads who speak to candidates, our decisions should be free from prejudgment. A candidate’s suitability for a role should authentically be based on:

  • The required skills for the role.
  • Their achievements.
  • The value they could bring value to the role and the team.
  • Their passion and motivation for applying to the company.

Candidates cannot identify biases when being interviewed, but it is up to us as decision makers to ensure that we regularly do self-assessments to safeguard that our interview and recruiting methods allow us to present a diverse pool of candidates for the roles that we fill.

As a LinkedIn Learning Author Dr Tana M Session says that despite our best efforts, bias is a contributing factor in our decision-making. She even goes on to say that unconscious bias is even more precarious, as we are often unaware that it is a factor in our decisions. In her course, “Uncovering Unconscious Bias in Recruiting & Interviewing,” Dr Session walks you through how to define a number of unconscious biases, as well as how the biases can impact your decision-making and how you can combat them when recruiting and hiring qualified candidates.


By the end of her course – which you can take on LinkedIn for free – you should walk away with an understanding of:

  • The purpose and benefits of a panel interview and an interview scorecard in the recruiting and interviewing process.
  • Apply appropriate actions to minimise bias used in recruiting and interviewing.
  • Distinguish the impact different biases have on the recruiting and interviewing process.
  • Determine the key factor for negating bias in decision-making.

If you find the course to be of value to you, why not share the course with your recruiting teams? Open discussions about the course could provide an opportunity to have viable conversations that create positive solutions, to strengthen the interviewing and recruitment systems processes in your company.

Natasha Ferguson is our Talent ManagerTo discuss all things related to talent management and DEI, get in touch or connect with her on LinkedIn.

3 ways recruitment agencies can develop diverse candidate pipelines for companies in 2022

How do we develop diverse candidate pipelines for companies in 2022? Over the last 18 months, the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion has shifted the workplace. Following the death of George Floyd, discussions around talent acquisition, recruitment, and retention have challenged companies across all industries to ask questions around the cultures that have been built in the workplace. With underrepresented groups leaving companies in droves following on from his murder that year, between May and September of 2020, we witnessed these same groups being headhunted for diversity, equity, and inclusion job opportunities. Indeed, the worldwide employment website said that diversity and inclusion job postings rose by an astonishing 123%.

With organisations now implementing talent strategies to increase diverse representation across businesses, what can recruitment agencies and external suppliers that work with companies do to develop diverse candidate pipelines? Here are three recommendations to consider.

Your focus is on speed and not enough on quality

We get it. You receive a brief and the client provides you with a turnaround date of yesterday. You’re known for being able to deliver either on or before time. But you want your candidate pipelines to be more diverse of the market that is out there. Filling the role with similar talent is an assured safety measure that the client will be satisfied with. Its predicted success.You do not have to trade speed for diversity, but you will need to create time to develop new pathways to deliver a quality filled diversified pipeline.

Create time to expand and diversify your search profiles

Based on the sector you work in you probably have ‘ideal’ candidate profiles that fit the roles you fill. And while that is great, what does that mean for underrepresented groups that do not fit or fill these profiles? Because there is no ‘one’ ideal candidate, rather than referring to the one or two that come to mind when filling roles, why not take the time to create 2-3 more? Yes, the short-term investment is that it will take a few days to create and develop a selection of diverse profiles, but ultimately developing this step will provide long term quality and success for your clients in the long run.

Build diverse pipelines by building new relationships

This could become a part of your business development strategy. Within our day-to-day work, we make the time to network with existing relationships we have with clients, and we even make the time to get to know successful candidates that have been hired. But what can we do to begin building meaningful connections with diverse candidates? Get out of your comfort zone! Explore new online communities, sign up to online discussions, career fairs and external industry events that garner diverse talent. Not only will you get to know meet new talent, but you’ll also be able to gather intel that clients will appreciate.

Recruitment agencies may not work as seamlessly or consistently with company recruiters, hiring managers and talent partners as they would like. But, as industry leaders across respective sectors, accountability and external insight into the candidate market gives you, the supplier, the consent to enhance and add value to your clients when delivering your services.

Natasha Ferguson is our Talent Manager. To discuss all things related to talent management and DEI, get in touch or connect with her on LinkedIn.