Top Tips: How to mitigate unconscious bias throughout the recruitment process

26th March 2024
Sue Johnson
Managing Partner & Head of Practice

We recently ran a webinar series with each session outlining the steps of the recruitment process. In this series Sue Johnson, Managing Partner of our Inclusion and Diversity Consultancy, outlined exactly how to ensure every step of the process is inclusive.

We ran through a number of Top Tips on how to make your recruitment process and practices more inclusive; a summary of them is as follows:

Step 1 – Job Description

  1. Writing Job Specifications: Ensure that HR recruiters and the recruiting line manager come together to meet and discuss the role and debate/review what is needed. Ensure awareness of potential biases by prompting a review team to conscientiously assess them and appoint a minimum of two additional reviewers with a specific focus on scrutinising the role and challenging the specification.
  2. Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity: Look at what is being said about your commitment to I&D on job sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn and evaluate what more can be done. Reputation matters, so ensure the external statement is matched to the internal practice and mindset.
  3. Inclusive Language and Imagery: Be aware of using AI tools unsupervised to correct the language of job descriptions and adverts. Avoid the use of stock photos or abstract images, instead use real images of employees in the company.


Step 2 – Advert & Application

  1. Ensure your processes are accessible: for example, multimedia formats, large text, audio, video etc. Consider the sole use of technical tests for highly technical roles.
  2.  Make your recruitment partnerships work for you: communicate partnership memberships in all job adverts, career websites, external media, and internally to employees. Annually review the progress/success of each partnership, then adapt your strategy based on evidence.
  3. Leverage any employee resource groups: they can provide vital assets in aiding the recruitment process, however, their contributions should be remunerated, supported and handled with respect. Consider extending employee referral reward schemes to the organisation’s alumnae. This amplifies and extends the EVP and keeps you connected with potential “re-joiners”.


Step 3 – Shortlisting

  1. Shortlisting team: make sure it is a team effort, one person on their own is prone to biases.
  2.  Scoring candidates: use the “flip it to test it” approach on candidates who do not on the first review meet all requirements. Challenge yourself and others to identify the reasons why that candidate should be considered.
  3.  Handling candidate details: consider who are you screening out at this process, e.g. People without a university degree, are they all disqualified?


Step 4 – Interview

  1. Interview preparation: consider offering different interview mediums to be Inclusive to differing learning and personality styles e.g., if a presentation is required during the interview, offer candidates they can prerecord this as an option.
  2.  Panels: ensure the panel is consistent for all interviews to enable objective assessment and comparison of candidates.
  3.  Keeping track of the facts: use a standard screening decision matrix grounded in established job criteria to facilitate the screening process and increase objectivity.


Step 5 – Decision

  1. Evidence-based decisions – Hiring panels should focus on evidence accrued during the interview, rather than general impressions or “gut feel”. This ensures decisions are based on concrete data rather than subjective feelings.
  2. Reference checks – Ensure a standard process to check candidate references is used consistently. There should be checks and balances in place to mitigate bias in the evidence capture.
  3. Future planning – When making a decision, consider not only the current needs of your organisation but also future requirements. Evaluate which candidate has demonstrated their ability to meet these needs over your strategic planning horizon.


Step 6 – Offer & Onboard

  1. Candidates:
  • Personal presentation of offers to successful candidates: It is recommended that hiring managers personally present the offers, promptly addressing any queries from the candidate, and encouraging acceptance by offering strategies and options to assure the candidate.
  • For unsuccessful candidates gain feedback: It is advisable to solicit feedback on the recruitment process from all unsuccessful candidates. This feedback should be used to track statistics, identify trends, and adapt and improve the process accordingly.
  1. Customise the induction to individual needs: Adapt the induction process to meet individual requirements concerning the work environment, facilities, and technologies. Make necessary adjustments to accommodate specific individual needs, such as those arising from long-term health conditions and impairments.
  2. Data collection: It is recommended to gather data at each stage of the recruitment process, inclusive of outreach and outsourced activities. This will aid in identifying the sources and channels that yield the most diverse pool of individuals to fill positions.

If you are interested in attending any of our future webinars please contact To learn more about the services we offer, click through to our Inclusion and Diversity Consultancy  practice.

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion