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Reducing biases in recruitment is ‘very straightforward’

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read
Reducing Biases In Recruitment Is Very Straightforward

Recruitment has been pinpointed as a space where biases exert themselves in conscious and unconscious forms. Minimising bias is a straightforward process, but being aware of it can be difficult.

HR Leader recently sat down with Jas Singh, managing director at SKL, to discuss bias in the recruitment world and how people and organisations can work towards stamping it out.

“We’re all humans, and we are all subjected to bias from the day we were born or maybe even the nine months before. And a lot of these biases are subconscious biases or self-beliefs, which might be deemed as positive to oneself,” Singh said.


“But the reality is that each person is a different person who was brought up in a different era and a different time. So, biases are always dangerous, and we’re all riddled with them. The key is to be aware of them, not just in recruitment, but in everything.”

Being aware of biases in the recruitment stage is a process that a lot of organisations undertake to ensure that they aren’t cutting out talent based on external factors that aren’t relevant to the job. Step one of that process is admitting that those biases exist, and then becoming aware of them.

“The key person who will benefit from you being aware of your biases is actually you … If you hire the wrong people, you yourself are not going to rise very much because your team’s not great,” Singh said.

Biases come in differing forms. There are ethnic biases, age biases, educational biases, and so on. Various forms of bias can impact that recruitment stage and acquiring talent because your perspective can become very tunnel-visioned, thus missing out on those excellent candidates who perhaps don’t fit into the mould and parameters that your biases want them to.

An example that is being talked about more and more is the educational degree aspect of a candidate. The status quo for earning a good-paying, high-level job is to have some form of a university degree, and many organisations will expect candidates to have that qualification when they apply for a job. Singh admitted that this could be a form of bias, but it’s not one that he is willing to move on from.

“That’s a bias that I choose to go with, and that’s fine. The nature of my business is that it’s professional services where you do need to show a degree of rigour in your written communication, in your thinking, and how you put across an argument, and how you deal with people,” Singh said.

“And eight out of 10 times, going to university helps that. There are, of course, other people who didn’t go to university who would be just as good at that.”

Simply admitting that bias exists is a step in the right direction. But, of course, with any job, there will be requirements and qualifications needed to fill the position. That’s how the working world operates. It’s when these qualifications and requirements veer into harmful biases based on race, gender, and ethnicity that it becomes an issue.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Jas Singh, click below:



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias refers to discriminating choices made by a person without their knowledge as a result of internalised opinions towards certain individuals or groups of people. This may have a detrimental impact on hiring choices.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.