Employer Branding

How Can Employers Avoid Bias in the Recruitment Process?

AI, Gamification and even blind applications are just some of the ways companies have tried to banish bias from the recruitment process. Ultimately the hiring process is finally decided by a human so is it possible not to have any bias in the recruitment process?

Our panel of diversity and inclusion experts are back to give us their tips on reducing bias in the recruitment process.

Natasha Broomfield-Reid

We all have biases. Most people don’t admit to having biases, and many organisations prefer not to acknowledge them, but denying they exist doesn’t means that they go away. By having self-awareness and identifying our own biases and how they affect our behaviour, we can begin to slow down our thinking and challenge our decisions. Consider the reasons behind your decision-making process and challenge them, especially when discounting individuals who are different from yourself or the majority of people in the role/ industry.

Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Head of Development at Equal Approach.

Caroline Stokes

Be aware how human it is that it exists. We can all learn to understand what our biases are, and to make an effort to stretch themselves in interviewing – even hiring – talent that really make sense, vs the comfortable route you would typically choose. There’s a lot of self work here, and everyone needs to do it.


Caroline Stokes, Executive Headhunter & Coach. Founder of FORWARD.

Nicola Crawford

The recruitment process should always encourage applications from a cross-section of society; companies should make their equality and diversity policies (or anti-discriminatory policy) clear and easily available to those who are interested in applying.

The goal of the group is to promote diversity in risk management, to harvest the unique experiences, skills and perspectives that women can bring to optimize decisions and build positive risk cultures. Fundamentally it is about recruiting the best person for the job.

Nicola Crawford, CFIRM, Chair of the Institute of Risk Management.

Joanna Abeyie

Use inclusive recruitment processes including using alternative sources for recruitment. Look at interest groups, professional networks, charities, professional thought-sharing events, social enterprises that support diverse talent, industry bodies and the like. All of which will have members who are talented, experienced and professional who would be a great pool of talent to tap into.

Joanna Abeyie, Managing Director, Hyden, SThree.

 Suki Sandhu

The problem with bias is that most people do not realise they have it. Unconscious bias is a big problem for businesses, but you can take actionable steps like ensuring that all staff undergo unconscious bias training to make them more aware.

To combat bias, whether it’s conscious or not, I would also encourage all businesses to implement name-blind recruitment and standardised interview questions and scoring systems for ALL candidates. Interviewing in pairs to gain a different perspective can also help, as well as having diverse interview panels to ensure diverse candidates have a more meritocratic process.

Suki Sandhu, CEO and founder of Audeliss.

Charlotte Sweeney

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that bias is a natural – we all have them. What we have to do as employers is (i) make sure the recruitment process is reviewed to ensure all bias is removed (for example assuming a certain degree grade at a certain university naturally means someone is right for the job) and (ii) raise the awareness of the impact of bias in decision-making for everyone. We should help people understand what their personal biases are and give them tools to help mitigate the impact of their bias throughout the recruitment process and any other areas of decision-making. For example, ensuring there is a diverse interview panel means there will be different viewpoints and more potential for them to challenge each other’s thinking.

Charlotte Sweeney, Managing Director of Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd.

Sarah Nahm

Running a good hiring process and reducing bias in the hiring process ultimately come down to the same thing: structure. Structured interviews help lessen the subjectivity involved in hiring – increasing the chances of making a good hire and decreasing the threat of unconscious bias.

Put great thought into the experience and capabilities needed for excellence in the role, make sure they are reflected in the job description, and train your interviewers so they know what to look for. When roles and expectations aren’t clearly defined, interviewers are more likely to let their biases cloud their decisions. Understanding what you’re looking for before you interview candidates helps take that bias out of the equation.

Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever.


By Ushma Mistry

Editor & Content Strategist at Link Humans, download our new eBook now: Measuring Employer Brand: The Ultimate Guide and check out our latest product The Employer Brand Index.