Equity in hiring is all about finding ways to level the playing field. Nobody should have an unfair advantage for a role because of unconscious biases towards their socioeconomic status, or due to the benefits of privilege.
However, many of these factors can come into play unknowingly when assessing candidates purely on their education and experience. To make the hiring process fair and inclusive for all, it’s time to go beyond CVs and professional profiles. The ideal candidate needs the opportunity to demonstrate the critical skills required by the role.
Reviewing CVs and professional profiles is an important part of the hiring process. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. It’s a logical way to get a snapshot of areas the individual has worked in previously, years of experience and their level of education; amongst many other things. However, the problem with only screening via this method is that a number of unconscious biases. Indeed, assumptions can seep through this process, causing barriers based on a person’s background, experience, interests and associations.
Researchers at Harvard Business School and University of Toronto Mississauga found that black and Asian American applicants in the US were twice as likely to get a call for interviews if they ‘whitened’ their CVs. This meant deleting any reference to race and scrubbing any details that could give racial clues. Even so-claimed ‘equal opportunity’ employers scored poorly in contacting minority candidates.
Race is just one of several unconscious biases we can see coming through in the early stages of talent acquisition. Others can include age, gender/gender identity, disability and many more social characteristics.
Ama Afrifa-Tchie and Sarah McIntosh from Mental Health First Aid (MFA) England, mention how ‘people often think that unconscious bias only occurs at interview stage, but it’s embedded through every stage of recruitment from job design and job descriptions, adverts and where you advertise. To remove this inherent bias, you have to assess each stage of the process and analyse in great detail how to create early interventions to remove barriers and promote inclusivity’.
While it’s important to look at all applicants holistically, best practices for equitable hiring should focus on candidates’ capabilities, rather than purely on their education, academic ranking or years of experience. Perceived notions of schools and ‘degree inflation’ are examples of barriers to diverse candidates and those from differing socio-economic backgrounds. Many candidates are discounted from roles that require 4-year degrees, which in the US rules out 70% of Latinx people, 73% of Indigenous people and 77% of Black people from consideration (Forbes).
Education is still a vitally important factor in assessing candidates, but taking shortcuts to prejudge that a Harvard or Oxford graduate is going to have the best skills is a narrow judgement. Some expect education to be a proxy for skills, however research shows that is a poor assumption in many cases. Hiring for ‘pedigree’ is another problematic symptom of profile screening. Indeed, it can favour more homogenous pools of candidates, leading to less diverse workplaces. Many candidates’ attendance at more prestigious educational establishments can come as a result of inherent socio-economic advantages and privileges that a lower-income household may not have access to, establishing more barriers for those more underrepresented groups. Skill-based hiring can change that.
‘Shifting from degree and pedigree-based hiring to a competency-based approach can open up new pipelines for organisations struggling to find talent. Introducing objective means to gauge an applicant’s aptitude is intended to give employers a more robust profile of a job seeker’s qualifications.’
Think about those people who have the skills required for the role, but didn’t gain them in the traditional way. It may have been through the armed forces, through voluntary or charity work, or it might just be that they have been out of the workforce for a few years. With the availability of online resources today, many individuals are self-taught or have taken less visible online/distance courses. And even if you do hire the person with more experience, who is to say that they suit the individual role and the tasks they will be performing?
Skill-based hiring has become an important leveller for more equitable talent acquisition. Before knowing an applicant’s full story, employers can discover inherent skillsets through utilising assessments and tests for candidates around defined, unbiased criteria. Through this method, hiring managers can test real-life job task performance, as well as theoretical knowledge.
While not a new concept, skill-based hiring tests are not widely implemented. Often more manual, skills tests are traditionally given to candidates in later-stage interviews. This is where online assessment hiring platforms can give greater access to a broader pool of candidates at initial stages of the hiring process, leveling the playing field.
Solutions utilising AI such as X0PA ROOM then have the ability to drive powerful, objective insights from assessment results. These include skill gap and predictive modelling based on answers and profile. The results of these tests give objective scientific insights into a candidate’s likely performance and skills. These can intelligently widen the diversity of your talent pool before getting to the face-to-face interviews.
X0PA ROOM gives employers a mixture of AI-enabled video interviews and skill-based hiring assessments on demand. By combining competency tests with live-recorded answers to questions and scenarios, intelligent solutions are able to pull more precise and meaningful insights on candidates. Hiring managers can then seamlessly invite and pre-screen candidates for video and text based assessments at scale. Standard criteria ensure that all candidates receive a fair and objective evaluation. X0PA ROOM then goes even further to enable the most inclusive interview and assessment process through intelligent masking of profiles. Employers receive independent results and analysis without ever seeing visuals or profiles of candidates. This ensures a truly equitable talent acquisition process.
At X0PA AI our mission is to empower employers to be as inclusive as possible in their hiring. We are proud to be the most ethical and objective AI hiring solution on the market. We take great steps to ensure our AI is of the highest ethical standard.
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