Jobseekers often face heavy and unconscious bias in the selection process, says CIPD

As thousands of young people enter the market for the first time following the A-Level and GSCE results, jobseekers may face rejection because of unconscious bias in the selection process, according to research by CIPD.

The professional body for human resources is urging people with hiring responsibilities to consider using insights from behavioural science to overlook their first instincts about a person and instead gain a more rounded and accurate picture of a candidate’s suitability for the job

Jonny Gifford, Research Adviser commented: “So many recruitment decisions are based on a ‘gut instinct’ or what feels intuitively right, and this is a real problem. We like to think we can spot talent, but insights from behavioural science show that our decision-making is actually highly prone to ‘sloppy thinking’ and bias.”

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The report A Head for Hiring: The Behavioural Science of Recruitment, shows that employers’ initial perceptions of whether a person will be a good fit can be determined by factors, which have no real impact on performance, including visual, cultural, demographic and situational factors.

These include favouring men over women in hiring decisions. When looking at CVs, applicants with typically ‘white’ names were more likely to get call-backs as opposed to one that can obviously be associated with an ethnic minority group.

Evidence suggests that employees hire ‘Mini-Me’s’; people like ourselves in terms of hobbies, experiences and how we dress or present ourselves at interview

Gifford said: “Even highly trained assessors make systematically different decisions depending on the time of day and their ‘cognitive load’ or ‘brain-strain’ at that point in time. Regardless of the level of resources and techniques one has to work with, there are steps that employers and recruiters can take to ensure that candidates get a fair recruitment experience and that employers find the person that best fits the role and can drive business performance.”


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