For decades, studies have shown that racial bias impacts the hiring process drastically. Candidates with African American, Hispanic, and Asian-sounding names get called for interviews at rates down to half of those of their white-sounding counterparts. Data spanning several decades shows that this trend hasn’t improved measurably in over 25 years.
How Does It Happen?
As Alan Todd, CEO of CorpU, told Bloomberg: “Identifying high-potential candidates is very subjective. People pick who they like based on unconscious biases.”
Unconscious bias is a pervasive and, at times, subtle form of racism that people face every day. The term refers to beliefs individuals hold about other groups of people that are outside their own conscious awareness. These snap judgments made unconsciously in the brain manifest as subtle shifts in behavior — moving a purse to the other side when a young black man walks past or referring to groups of a different skin color as the “other.”
These biases manifest more frequently during times of stress, when operating on tight time constraints, or while multitasking. Much of this discrimination happens in the screening stage, when candidates are rejected based on the subjective opinion of the interviewer reviewing a resume and (sometimes) cover letter.
Due to the large volume of candidates, researches are forced to narrow the field based on assumptions formed with a glimpse of a resume. Unconscious bias enters this process as they race to fill a position as quickly as possible. In addition, they are managing a team of interviewers who are balancing the process with their normal day-to-day tasks. They are more likely to be rushed and multitasking while hiring as a result.
A Couple of Examples
For a dedicated HR recruiter, they are reviewing dozens (if not hundreds) of resumes and cover letters per day for a large organization. One recruiter said she spends approximately 25 seconds looking at an applicant’s documents. In that time, a recruiter will review your current role, look for a clear career progression, look for keywords related to the position they are hiring for, and ensure you meet the required criteria for the position (think degrees or geographic location.) Once they have waded through the pool of 50-100 or more applications, they will select a handful to call back for individual interviews. This process will happen in a single day — perhaps even a few hours — and any unconscious bias an individual holds can quickly enter the process in those mere 25 seconds.
For a smaller or less formal company, the hiring process may fall to the vacant position’s manager. They will bring together a team of up to 5-6 additional people to serve on the hiring and interviewing committee. That’s 6-7 people who are managing a hiring process in addition to their day-to-day work. Given that a typical hiring process takes anywhere from 25-50 hours for a single position, that workload is distributed among the team to multitask with their existing duties. This time crunch creates a perfect breeding ground for unconscious bias to negatively impact the process.
In Our Next Post…
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Appliqant is an AI-infused, blockchain driven, automated video interview platform developed by the team at Quantilus.