3 Steps to Remove Bias From Tech Recruitment

October 16, 2018

When it comes to tech recruitment, most organisations like to think they will select the right person for the job, based purely on technical skillset. But as this is not always the reality, here at ShowTech (formerly Technically Compatible/Tungl) we take a look at how to improve the hiring process using tech assessments to eliminate bias.

Many hiring decisions, whether we admit it or not, often come down to a ‘gut feeling’ of who will best fit the role. Candidate selection based on interview alone often introduces unconscious bias to the process and doesn’t guarantee the best hire.

Bad hires, especially in tech, have a profoundly negative effect on productivity, profitability and team morale. Not to mention the costs of recruiting replacements. Which is why it is important that organisations recruit from a wider talent pool.

The benefits to a business are profound: teams with more diversity in thought, gender, ethnicity and culture are typically more innovative and performant.

Also, by neglecting to value workplace diversity, employers could risk its reputation with potential employees. According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is important to them when evaluating job offers.

Removing bias from your tech recruitment screening needn’t be a complex task. Follow our three-step guide to select the right person for the job, based entirely on technical fit:

1. Create job ads that appeal to a broad demographic

It is important to ensure your ad attracts a diverse talent pool. Don’t alienate potential candidates with language and style!

Let’s face it; some tech recruitment ads still use ‘stuffy’ and ‘jargon-filled’ language. There are others that try so hard to ‘appeal to the kids,’ that their informal style can isolate candidates. Alongside this, increasing demands on our time also means that more job seekers than ever (78% in the US) are applying for jobs via mobile. If your ad is too long, confusing or doesn’t read well on mobile, they will not apply.

*Key tip – Try to examine your words and remove biased language to improve your ad’s appeal.

2. Use online skills assessments to make unbiased decisions

Online tech skills assessments, such as our own ShowTech (formally Technically Compatible), are used by leading tech recruiters and software companies pre-hire to assess candidates ability and eliminate bias, overall improving the hiring process.

Online tech skills assessments have several advantages for IT and tech recruitment, including:

  • Simplifying and removing bias from the recruitment.
  • Saving time on the interview.
  • Presenting recruiters with measurable and objective data.
  • Highlighting the best applicants.
  • Allowing recruiters to make quick hiring decisions or fast-track applicants through to interviews.
  • Minimising the risk of bad decision-making, by ensuring the selection process is based purely on technical fit-to-role in the organisation.

These skills assessments can be used as employment screening tests and can show the difference in technical expertise between say an extrovert who aced but bluffed their way through the interview, versus that shy, yet highly-talented, developer you are really after. If conducted pre-interview, tech recruitment assessment tools can also help to breakdown bias among interviewers.

Whatever platform you choose, make sure it allows you to measure what matters to your organisation. You should be able to easily create and customise a skills test that suits the exact requirements of the role, weighting different tech skills according to relative importance and adding your own questions.

3. Use complete anonymity in your online skills assessment

You can remove bias completely from your pre-hire tech testing by anonymising test results before candidate selection. A good online skills testing environment will completely anonymise data while allowing you to quickly identify the person with the best skillset for the job. This means recruitment decisions are based on technical fit alone, with no way of judging applicants or identifying personal details, i.e. name, ethnicity, sex etc.

Anonymising results and informing technical recruitment decisions in this way also lends advantages to:

  • Recruiting women in tech

A particularly significant issue for technical recruiters in the UK and the US, where numbers of women in tech are significantly lower than other countries and seem to be decreasing. One solution to improving this issue is to remove bias from candidate screening by using an online testing platform which allows companies to select purely on technical ability, placing female applicants on a level playing field to males.

  • Technical qualifications versus capability

As costs of higher education rise and organisations, like Accenture, look to promote tech apprenticeships over graduate recruitment programmes, increasingly, tech recruiters could find the Mark Zuckerbergs of tomorrow, by looking past traditional qualifications and hiring purely on technical ability. In an unbiased, employment screening test, candidates with limited formal qualifications, but lots of hands-on experience gained, for example from coding boot camps, or personal app development could outshine less experienced graduates.

In conclusion, apart from using online tech assessment platforms such as ours that allow for anonymisation and skills-based testing, there is no real standardised way to assess tech candidates in a non-biased way. You could try to improve the hiring process through introducing new candidate screening processes in place of traditional interviews, for example, a coding skills workshop where recruiters watch developers code, but can you hand on heart say that recruiters would not take into account; age, experience, background, ethnicity, sex etc?

To discuss how our ShowTech tech assessments can help you to screen and test your candidates in a 100% unbiased way, say hello.

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