Home / Assessments / Recruiting / How to Stop Hiring Bias with Skills Testing

How to Stop Hiring Bias with Skills Testing

Posted by Eric Friedman


'>stop bias with skills testing eSkill

Making objective hiring decisions is hard. Recruiters and hiring managers have their own perceptions, preconceived notions, subconscious biases, and they make assumptions, just like anybody else. Trouble can arise, however, when subconscious bias influences hiring, possibly limiting the diversity of the company’s workforce, and potentially causing hiring managers to miss out on top talent.

During the recruiting process, candidates apply because they are drawn by the job description. Then, in most cases, the hiring manager reviews resumes and screens candidates based on subconscious biases – whether it’s where the candidate is from, or which college the candidate attended, or even the candidate’s name. Those who make it to the interview stage are further scrutinized and selected based on a hiring manager’s “gut instinct,” which is a euphemism for subjective impressions and assumptions.

Before a company knows it, its workforce begins to look homogeneous, with a certain type of employee: maybe all the same gender, age, race, or work skills and experience. This can be detrimental because the company ends up missing out on top talent that doesn’t fit its unintentional employee mold. Of course, talent comes in all shapes and sizes. The more diverse your workforce, the more perspectives, opinions, and skills it has.

So what can a company do to prevent hiring bias?

Even before the recruiter or hiring manager meets with a candidate, the net cast by a job posting can exclude many top performers, just by virtue of its wording or tone. For example, according to Unitive CEO Laura Mather, a job announcement that includes terms such as “fast-paced” or “hard working” might appeal to a particular type of candidate, most likely “mainstream male.” Something as simple as rewording the job ad, by including for example terms like “team player” or “supporting,” can go a long way towards appealing to more diverse candidates.

Resumes are also roadblocks to a more diverse workforce, since recruiters can’t help but bring their own biases to the table when reviewing them. Some companies hide identifying information on resumes as a way to prevent discrimination. That way, when a recruiter reviews a resume, only skills, past work experience, and education are examined, and not the candidate’s gender, age, and race.

Another excellent way to circumvent resume bias is by administering pre-employment skills assessment tests to candidates and considering a candidate’s test results along with his or her resume.

Using skills assessment testing, recruiters can base their decisions on hard facts – a candidate’s test results – instead of depending on a resume that may spark biases. Say a young woman applies for a job in a company whose workforce is predominantly older men. With just one look at her resume, the hiring manager would know her gender and age, and subconsciously pass on her because she doesn’t register as a good fit in the hiring manager’s mind.

However, if that same candidate were to score top marks on a skills assessment test, the hiring manager would see just how talented she is, and that she would in fact be a good fit for the company – something the manager never would have known by just looking at her resume.

By testing a candidate, recruiters get more accurate answers to crucial questions than they would simply by reading a resume. Some of these questions are: Does this person have the necessary skills for the job? Do the candidate’s skills match the candidate’s resume? Will the candidate be a good fit for the team and the company? Once a recruiter has the answers to these questions through pre-employment skills testing, the recruiter can make better decisions.

Using skills assessment tests can also help companies avoid discriminating against candidates based on gender, age, or race, since recruiters will base their decisions on a candidate’s proven competences. When used in conjunction with resumes, test results can help legitimize hiring decisions and lead to a more diverse workforce. Having different perspectives and opinions from a more diverse workforce leads to increased innovation, and thus increased productivity and higher revenues – a real win-win for any company.

Measuring Quality of Hire: Defining Top Performance

Quality of Hire metrics can help you make better hiring decisions and improve the performance of your staff overall. Developing metrics that accurately track applicant skills and employee productivity will help you implement standards and processes that best meet your company's unique needs. It's the first step to building the best possible staff for your company. DOWNLOAD
About Eric Friedman


Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

3 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Lauren P. September, 25, 2015

    Recruiting has been and probably will always be biased. Recruiters have ideas, opinions, and thoughts that can influence a hiring decision. For a long time, the race of the candidate determined who was going to work and where, then the gender, then religion. The first impression is very important, and a few bad seconds can ruin an entire interview. Changing the hiring system has to be done in such a way as to not leave the decision to the thoughts of a recruiter.

  • Paula S. September, 28, 2015

    Skills testing and behavioral testing are all welcomed in a hiring process, combined with strict policies against discrimination of any kind. When using the help of an outside recruiter, it is difficult to apply internal rules and regulations. One method I read about is to provide recruiters with resumes without a photo, a name or any personal details, just skills and qualifications.

  • Olivia M. October, 01, 2015

    When a workforce begins to look homogeneous, with only one certain type of employee, it does’t necessarily mean it is because of race, education, or the same skills. Some of the managers that recruit are looking for new people that would fit with what they already have, for the sake of having a non disruptive environment: similar attitudes toward life, cultural preferences, character in general. And they minimize the importance of their skills. It is a bad practice with negative effects.


Guest October, 01, 2015