Digest: How Bias Affects Recruitment Processes and Best Practices for Inclusive Hiring

Digest: How Bias Affects Recruitment Processes and Best Practices for Inclusive Hiring

Meeting Date
October 22, 2021
Event Type
🇫🇷 / 🇺🇸
This content is from a workshop on diversity and inclusion in recruitment practices, led by Pauline Bergeret, former VP People @ Algolia and a speaker at Gloria for Business.


In the world of recruitment, biases are a pervasive issue that can influence decision-making at various stages. We all possess biases, and they can manifest throughout the recruitment process, from employer communications to job postings, selection criteria, and interviews. In this article, we will explore when and how biases come into play during recruitment and provide best practices for creating inclusive hiring processes.

Part 1: Job Postings

Legal Restrictions on Discrimination

In France, there are legal prohibitions against including certain information in job postings, including:

  • Minimum age or age limits.
  • Sexist language or discriminatory language that targets specific gender pronouns.
  • Any mention of ethnic origin, political opinions, or religious beliefs of candidates.
  • Information about family status, such as "single" or "childless."

Some formulations may constitute hidden or indirect discrimination and are also prohibited, such as references to "voter card," "physical fitness," or "EEA national."

Legal Exceptions

There are exceptions related to:

  • Health or disability, based on medically established incapacity or to prevent risks to physical integrity or work-related disabilities.
  • Age, where it serves the protection of young workers, older workers, or where certain jobs legally require a specific age.
  • French nationality or EU membership, particularly for public service jobs, which are reserved for French nationals, with some exceptions for EU member states.

Writing Job Postings - Best Practices

  • Always use both male and female genders (e.g., "un.e").
  • Avoid narrowing academic backgrounds to specific courses and instead open up to various educational paths (e.g., "business school, university, or equivalent").
  • Clearly specify the desired skills and prioritize skills over diplomas.
  • Be mindful of subjective criteria (e.g., "neatness," "organization," "discretion").
  • Ensure that job postings for positions in France are written in French, with the option to include both French and English versions.
  • Provide maximum information about the work environment and employment conditions.
  • Highlight your commitment to diversity from the outset.
  • Communicate your commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance.

Inclusive Writing - Best Practices (especially true in French)

  • Consider alphabetical order to maintain objectivity.
  • Use feminine forms and feminization of job titles in your communications.
  • Employ dual flexion, mentioning both genders (e.g., "les Français et les Françaises").
  • Adopt gender-neutral language to refer to groups that include both men and women (e.g., "les personnes").
  • Use non-stereotypical and non-sexist vocabulary.

Part 2: Preparing Inclusive Interviews

The Importance of Interview Preparation

Participating in a recruitment process is a significant responsibility. To ensure making unbiased decisions, a system to neutralize biases is crucial. Evaluation criteria should be precise, transparent, and standardized to minimize subjectivity and apply consistently to all candidates. A structured interview process reduces bias.

The Influence of Biases on Recruitment

Cognitive biases lead to quick judgments or decisions, often bypassing rational reflection. They affect our choices and can result in discrimination against certain candidates. Common cognitive biases include:

  • Recency effect: We remember recent information more vividly.
  • Halo/primacy effect: The first impression heavily influences overall perception.
  • Contrast effect: We tend to compare candidates, which can lead to biased judgments.
  • Projection bias: We favor individuals who think like us.
  • Status quo bias: Resistance to change and perceiving novelty as risky.
  • Framing bias: Preconceived ideas about candidates shaping interview questions.
  • Extraordinary bias: Overvaluing candidates with exceptional characteristics.
  • Dunning-Kruger effect: Overestimation of less-qualified individuals and underestimation of highly-qualified ones.

Best Practices for Inclusive Interviews

  • Mask certain CV information like name, gender, age, address, or university to combat status quo and projection bias.
  • Avoid researching candidates on social media without their consent, except for professional networks.
  • Request the same documentation from all candidates (e.g., diplomas, qualifications).
  • Allocate equal interview time to all candidates, regardless of first impressions, to combat halo, contrast, and projection effects.
  • Conduct interviews with diverse interviewers to avoid projection bias.
  • Include knowledge tests and situational assessments to address the Dunning-Kruger effect.
  • Develop interview guides and evaluation grids for each role with weighting coefficients to facilitate candidate comparisons and combat projection bias.
  • Fill out the evaluation grid during each interview to counter the recency effect.
  • Review evaluations impartially to address recency, halo, and contrast effects.
  • Employ active listening to mitigate halo and contrast effects.
  • When commonalities exist with a candidate, question their relevance to the role to combat projection and extraordinary biases.
  • Focus solely on skills and attributes necessary for the role, addressing extraordinary biases.
  • Reflect on how minority applications were treated to counter status quo bias.
  • Evaluate candidates relative to each other, rather than against an idealized candidate, to address framing bias.

Source: https://www.defenseurdesdroits.fr/


Recognizing and addressing biases in recruitment is essential for creating inclusive and equitable hiring processes. By implementing these best practices, organizations can promote diversity, reduce discrimination, and make fairer decisions when selecting candidates for employment.

Original content:

Interested in implementing best practices within your company? Access our practical guide. Diversity and Inclusion SupportDiversity and Inclusion Support