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Pre-Employment Psychometric Testing: How to Eliminate Bias

Ryan Green
Ryan Green June 23, 2021
psychometric tests remove bias

As companies look at ways to eliminate bias from their recruitment process, a trend is beginning to emerge: more and more organisations are using pre-employment psychometric testing to tackle the challenge.

Are these tests the best way to eliminate bias? Below we explore five types of bias employers should aim to overcome, and five ways psychometric tests help achieve that.

Common types of bias to eliminate

psychometric tests remove bias

There are five common biases in hiring to be aware of, which are covered in the following list. The good news is that these biases are generally easy to remove – you just need to understand what they are, how to spot them, and how to fix them.

#1 Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is to make assumptions based on our own perceived truths. Quick judgements often occur when we meet new people, which causes recruiters to ask irrelevant questions in interviews, to elicit answers that support their initial assumptions and pre-judgements.

Some 60% of interviewers will decide a candidate's suitability within 15 minutes of meeting them. The problem is that you could be eliminating a great candidate for no real reason at all.

How to eliminate: Challenge your assumptionsand have a ubiquitous set of questions. Use multiple interviewers and try theSix Thinking Hats technique to consider situations from multiple perspectives.

#2 Halo and horn effect

The halo effect is when a recruiter places too much weight on one positive aspect of a candidate and gives too much weight to that aspect when making hiring decisions.

The opposite can be said for the horn effect. This is when a recruiter lets something negative about a candidate cloud their overall judgement.

How to eliminate: Be aware of your judgements and make sure others are involved in evaluating candidates. Enhance your decision-making process with work-related scenarios and data-driven metrics.

#3. Affinity bias

When a recruiter feels an affinity towards a candidate (eg something in common with them), it can influence their hiring decision. For example, knowing someone comes from the same town or went to the same school.

Hiring managers must continue to review every process, to spot areas where affinity bias might occur.

How to eliminate: when interviewing a candidate make a note of the similarities you have for reference later. Make sure your judgement is based on skills and experience, and use multiple people to interview.

#4. Beauty bias

Beauty bias is when a recruiter or hiring manager favours attractive individuals (this can occur consciously or unconsciously). It is rare for employers to admit that they might prefer to work with someone based on their looks, so it's tricky to identify.

How to eliminate: Blind hiring could help eliminate beauty bias when pre-screening casndidates. This is a process of removing personal information that might create bias in a hiring decision.

For example, blind hiring technology can hide names, gender, and any profile photos a candidate might have included in their CV, to stop beauty bias in the initial stages.

#5. Non-verbal bias

Non-verbal bias can be a positive or negative judgement from a recruiter about a person's body language, appearance, or dress sense.

We must try to look past these factors when hiring the best people because how a person looks or behaves during an interview does not necessarily paint a full picture. Candidates might be nervous when being interviewed; but that does not mean they don't have the right skills for the job.

How to eliminate: As with beauty bias, blind hiring is one method of non-verbal bias that can be avoided in the initial stages of recruitment. You could also consider training, to detect conscious and unconscious bias, and ensure you are continually reviewing your processes to prevent any areas where bias might creep in.

The role of technology in increasing diversity

Technology is playing a major role in helping reduce bias, diversify teams, and measure diversity and inclusion metrics.

What does this mean for the future?

Well, things are looking bright for talent building. More research, insights, and software are helping us build better teams more quickly whilst also eliminating bias.

How psychometric testing eliminates bias

psychometric tests remove bias

Here are five ways aptitude testing can reduce hiring bias:

1.Blind hiring

Psychometric tests are designed to reveal limited amounts of personal information about candidates (in some cases, even names are obscured from the recruiter). This means that they are judged purely on the tests they take part in, and fairly compared to other candidates who participated.

2. Data-driven decision making

Traditional recruitment methods tend to place more weight on CVs than a candidate's skills. CVs are great to understand a person's background and work experience, but aptitude tests can help build data around candidates (which helps to eliminate bias).

3. Standardising recruitment processes

A pre-employment test is the first step in standardising a recruitment process – it's all about creating an equal opportunity for every applicant. Ensuring there is a template for how you test candidates and what questions you ask in an interview ensures greater fairness.

4. Checking job descriptions for bias

Some psychometric testing software allows you to hire and advertise through their platforms. Regardless of whether you use this feature or not, check job descriptions for bias when you promote a new role. For example, tools like gender decoders help reduce gender bias. Research has shown job descriptions with masculine-coded language will dissuade female applicants, for example.

5. Psychometric testing validity

Psychometric testing validity describes evaluations of psychometric measurements that help predict if a candidate might be suitable for a role. Tests allow recruiters to judge purely on data-driven skill metrics which eliminates bias. Cut-e(a psychometric testing publisher) found that 81% of those using psychometric tests will make more reliable, less risky decisions. Furthermore, 57% believed psychometrics could help predict future performance.

Can we truly get rid of our hiring biases?

As companies invest more into technology, training and awareness standards improve, and hiring processes become better and with less bias. Organisations should strive to eliminate bias but appreciate there is a human side of HR and recruitment that will always be part of building great teams (even if they are remote).

With this, humans bring hiring bias whether unconsciously or consciously – it's your responsibility to decrease this as much as possible.

Ryan Green
Ryan Green June 23, 2021

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