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RECRUITMENT CONSULTING, HUMAN RESOURCE (HR) BIAS, AND THE ESSENCE OF EFFECTIVE HIRING PROCESS POLICY

Executive Summary

The current research delves into investigating the source of bias, as well as best policy considerations during recruitment process. Bias is a major issue for human resource and talent managers which can lead to prejudiced decisions and actions, which ultimately leads to hiring incompetent personnel. The information is vital for recruitment consulting, which allows firms to recruit the best candidates for various positions. The research uses secondary data from articles obtained from two databases, Emerald and Google Scholar. The primary need for the report is to develop positive consultancy practices via self-managed learning. The aim of this report was to articulate best practices regarding the hiring process, especially about policy and bias, which is helpful in advancing human resource consultancy. The researcher’s objectives were to establish the best practices of eliminating bias by incorporating theories and psychological viewpoints, determining the best considerations of a human resource management policy, and to develop knowledge for recruitment consulting practice. From the research, it was established that there are various types of biases in hiring process, including confirmation bias, anchoring, halo effect, overconfidence bias, and groupthink. In addition, unconscious biases in hiring include similarity-attraction hypothesis, stereotyping basing on competencies, and fear of competition. Bias has negative impact, such as stifling of innovation in organisations, low performance, and hiring of the wrong personnel. Based on policy, the research established that discrimination should be abhorred in the workplace based on sex, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, or religion. Lastly, the research recommends investigating the interplay of gender and creation of recruitment stereotypes, as well as further research on best hiring practices through case studies to further advance my knowledge and skills.

Introduction

Background

Recruitment is a major human resource management function that profoundly impacts the performance and productivity of organisations. As such, it is vital to acquire and retain high-quality talent, which is critical to success in an organisation (Irwin, 2010). Job markets have increasingly become competitive, and the skills have grown to be diverse, which signifies that recruiters need to be more selective in terms of who they choose to hire because poor recruiting decisions can have a long-term negative impact in the quest for excellence in the increasingly competitive business environment (Keck and Tang, 2015). Therefore, effective recruitment should be devoid of bias to select the most qualified personnel.

Bias is a major concern for human resource and talent managers in most of the organisations (Keck and Tang, 2015). Prejudice decisions and actions are portrayed unconsciously but may be identified by other individuals. A lot of studies focus on understanding how bias impressions are developed by human beings and the effects that it has on the human potential and productivity. The primary objective of this paper is to establish the strategies employable in dealing with cases of bias by highlighting various theories and psychological viewpoints. As a means of achieving this objective, the paper is going to delve into understanding how bias impressions develop in the human brain and the adverse negative effects that it has on an organisation.

Personal prejudice varies and is greatly complex thus presenting a major hindrance in the process of making decisions. Biases aim at distracting coherent scrutiny of an issue by introducing other factors which may not be significant about the issue under discussion. According to Irwin (2010), the process of decision making encompasses the unconscious choices and motivations which guide us to the decision we make. These decisions are implicit biases and subconsciously developed in the human mind. There are some detrimental factors which drive an individual to be biased in their decision-making process. As earlier established, personal biases can be distractive forces which can lead to poor decision making and less ideal outcomes for resolution makers.
The nature of personal biases varies widely and concealed in an individual’s character, but in most cases, it is manifested in the individual unknowingly. Ly et al. (2014) assert that the decision-making process is a reflection of an innately specified responses element which relates to appetitive cues. By introducing some other issues which indirectly affect decision making, personal biases can significantly affect coherent thinking because it denies the individual the chance to remain objective about the subject matter. Ideally, if we believe that something is true, then we naturally assume that those people who hold a different view have some problem. Also, the recruitment policy is vital. For instance, to avoid perceived or real family influence on the conflict of interest within the company, the appointment shall not be given to a person who is a mother, father, daughter, son, sister or brother of a staff member. As such, both policy and bias are aspects that need to be considered in the recruitment consultancy

Purpose

The purpose of the report is to develop knowledge surrounding effective recruitment consultancy. This includes an effective hiring process and avoiding bias in the hiring process as well as incorporating an effective recruitment policy within organisations. As such, the report will highlight ways of effectively recruiting talent within organisations, which will contribute to better consultancy in the field. In addition, various theories and psychological viewpoints will be investigate in the current research as they best explain the reason why human resources make biases while recruiting new personnel.

Rationale

It is paramount to ensure that organisations monitor and control the level of bias in recruiting talent and personnel in organisations since it can negatively affect our performance in workplaces as well as in the development of an organisation’s culture. As established, bias in workplaces affects who gets hired, promoted, and trained which means that the distortion of the organisation culture. There are several adverse effects associated with bias in workplaces which should be dealt with to ensure that the full potential of employees is optimised. They include stifling of innovation in organisations, low performance, the hiring of the wrong personnel, and reduced profitability (Keck and Tang, 2015). Theories and psychological viewpoints are incorporated to understand how and why human resources make biases while recruiting new personnel.

Significance

The report is of significance in consultancy practice by pointing out ways of eliminating bias during recruitment, which is vital in hiring competent personnel that will lead to better performance within a firm. Additionally, adopting the best policy during recruitment allows for hiring personnel without discrimination, as well as highlighting the best provisions that should be considered. This will ensure that a company selects the right personnel to ensure high performance and ultimately increased profitability and growth, which are primary goals for any organisation (Keck and Tang, 2015).

Need

The primary need for the report is to develop positive consultancy practices via self-managed learning. The skills obtained will be vital for the development of knowledge that can be used in advising firms on how to effectively deal with human resources bias during recruitment, as well as how to develop policies to allow for the effective hiring process.

Aim

The aim of this report is to articulate best practices regarding the hiring process, especially about policy and bias, which is helpful in advancing human resource consultancy. The report will investigate theories and psychological viewpoints to understand how biases are made while recruiting new personnel. This will positively contribute to knowledge pertaining to positive hiring practices since bias is a common problem in recruitment consultancy. The report will also provide essential information about what aspects of policy should be included in the recruitment strategy of firms. By streamlining both policy and positive recruitment strategies devoid of bias, the researcher will provide excellent advice for recruitment consultancy.

Objectives Underpinning Aim

The following are the objectives of the research:

  1. To establish the best practices to eliminate bias in the recruitment process by incorporating theories and psychological viewpoints.
  2. To determine the best considerations of a human resource management policy regarding the recruitment process.
  3. Develop knowledge regarding human resource hiring process for recruitment consulting practice

Method

Secondary Data

The research will be use secondary data from articles that will be obtained through literature search. The report aims to analyse data and findings from the various articles and studies to establish the best human resource practices about the management of bias and establishing the best policy regarding recruitment in organisations. The report includes a qualitative analysis which encompasses the use of existing data to establish the best practices for recruitment that can be used for providing consultancy services.

As this literature review is targeted at human resource management consultancy, it will select articles that cover aspects of how to avoid bias and what policy provisions are best during recruitment. Therefore, the review methods utilised were conducted with two main focus. One to highlight the problem of bias in the recruitment process and the other is to articulate best practices regarding recruitment strategy policy. The main objective is establishing the problem of human resource bias and highlighting the efficacy of the various provisions to incorporate in human resource policy to assist with future consultancy practice.

Inclusion Criteria

The inclusion criteria for selecting articles for review include those articles that were published from 2010 onwards as well as those that cover human resource hiring bias and policy issues surrounding recruitment. As such, this helps achieve research currency in the area of human resource management.
Several articles were selected with cross-referencing to other journals as in in-text citations. The research was not limited to consultancy practice. The primary search criteria were the use of keywords such as “human resource bias”, “bias in recruitment”, “human resource psychology,” “human resource policy,” “human resource theory,” and “hiring policy”. Also, the researcher only focused articles that deal with human resource bias and policy. The secondary search criteria entailed focus on web sources for information about best human resource practices.

Exclusion Criteria

The exclusion criteria included eliminating all articles that were published before 2005 to achieve currency. In addition, articles that needed payment for full access were also eliminated.

Treatment

The researcher first looked into whether the studies were qualitative and then also looked into the achieved knowledge and its application. The key points were taken and highlighted in the “Learning Achieved” section, which included the various problems associated with human resource policy and bias. In the section, it also included factual information about the outcomes of the searches of the literature, including the numbers of hits from the searches, number of the abstract that was narrowed down the searches and number of reports that met the inclusion criteria. Also, relevant data was only selected to keep the focus of the review, as well as emphasize the aims and objectives were supposed to address and organize the findings in a way that relates to the topic. The learning achieved section also highlighted the identification of findings from the different articles and the different outcomes. Also, it also highlighted the similarities and differences.

Steps Taken in a Chronological Order

  1. First, the researcher conducted a literature search. To conduct the review, studies were obtained from various databases. The databases that were searched included Emerald and Google Scholar, which were the primary databases.
  2. Second, the researcher skimmed through the studies to find out whether they met the inclusion criteria and those that met the exclusion criteria were eliminated.
  3. Third, the researcher extracted relevant information by reading the entire article.
  4. Fourth, the researcher noted important points, which were summarised using note taking.
  5. Fifth, the researcher connected the important points together and then wrote the report.

Justification of Chosen Methodology

This method was chosen mainly because it was convenient for the researcher. Sources of secondary data are readily available and include census reports, financial charts, databases, on-line research articles, survey reports, different relevant books, journals websites and much more (Lefever, Dal, and Matthiasdottir, 2007). In addition, it is cheap since the researcher does not have to pay for transport for fieldwork purposes, such as when conducting interviews (Cooper, Schindler, & Sun, 2006). Also, there is a lot of information that is easily retrievable on the Internet, particularly in the mentioned databases that could be handy in providing knowledge about effective recruitment consultancy, which can be used in developing knowledge about the elimination of bias and formulation of an appropriate policy in regards to recruitment within organisations (Cooper, Schindler, & Sun, 2006).

Learning Achieved

How Bias Perceptions are Formed

A lot of studies have been put in place by psychologists to establish the process of decision-making and how bias impressions are formed in our minds (Milkman, 2009). Formation of bias perceptions refers to the process through which an individual joints pieces of information about an individual or something and integrate them to form an impression of the person or thing. According to Brambilla et al. (2011), studies have indicated that possessing and showing positive traits are the core dimensions on which judgements and impression formation base. The Gestalt approach and the Cognitive Algebra approach are two theories which explain the integration of perceptions in the human brain.

The major tenet of the Gestalt approach is that the formation of a general impression or bias is a result of a combination of some interrelated opinions already held of an individual or something. The most basic understanding of this theory is that a person always seeks to establish and form a clear and meaningful impression of another person. According to Weisberg (2014), Gestalt psychology theory proposes that the formation of insight is a result of a series of a set process called the insight sequence that is reached by an individual in trying to form an impression about a person. A critical analysis of the same indicates that the perception or the opinion that formed about a person or something guides us in being biased against or for someone or something.

Cognitive algebra approach on the other side asserts that individual perceptions are analysed independently and combined with previous impressions of a person to form an ever-changing opinion of an individual (Weisberg, 2014). However, it is imperative to note that the ability to develop a perception does not depend on the amount of encoded information as well as the cognitive capacity of an individual. According to Betsch and Glockner (2010), an individual’s intuition enables them to quickly process multiple pieces of information without a lot of effort.

There are various theories for making decisions. One of the most common is the Contextual and motivational theory in making biased decisions shown below.

Figure 1: Contextual and motivational theory in making biased decisions. Source: (Strough and Karns, 2011).

The illustration above outlines the contextual and motivational theory of making bias decisions and judgements. This model gives focus to the cognitive mechanics, cognitive pragmatics and the emotions, as well as the way that it affects the decision-making process. According to Strough and Karns (2011), there is a link between an individual’s different way of thinking, ability, and skills and the formation of bias decisions. The formation of bias decisions can also be traced back to the growth process and behaviour through various stages of life like preschool, middle age, youth stage and adulthood. Strough and Karns (2011) assert that deliberative mode plays the role of keeping track of the affective or the experimental mode.

Types of Unconscious of Biases.

There are very many factors which can affect an individual’s prejudice but there are very and inimical biases that should `be mentioned. The various forms of personal biases are discussed below.

Confirmation bias. This type of partiality is considered to be very common because individuals often practice it without knowing what they are doing. Confirmation bias often happens when a person tends to establish facts and justification for their previously held beliefs. According to Wagenmakers et al. (2012), there is a tempting tendency among experimenters and reviewers to fine-tune the analysis to the data obtained to achieve the desired outcome.

Anchoring. Anchoring is considered to be the over-dependence on a particular source of prior information. In most cases, anchoring denies an individual the chance to adjust to a new source of information which may potentially differ with the already-formed point of view. Chang et al. (2013) assert that the exposure to a first reference can have two effects of being informational and playing the anchoring responsibility.

Halo effect. This hinges on the assumption that if an individual is good at performing a certain task, then they are likely to be good at performing another task (Bergh and Gibbons, 2011). This leads to a distortion of a person’s real image.

Overconfidence bias. Overconfidence partiality is another potentially distractive force of personal bias which occurs when an individual overestimates the ability of their judgement and failing to establish a reasonably objective point of view regarding obtaining a sound decision. Burks et al. (2013) assert that individuals always show a tendency of overestimating their ability as compared to others.

Groupthink. Groupthink is another potentially disruptive form of bias in which group decision making guides a group to making a decision which is in harmony with the desires of the group rather than establishing a realistic evaluation of other alternative possibilities within the decision-making process (Burks et al., 2013).

Unconscious Biases in Hiring

Similarity-attraction hypothesis. Boyce et al. (2010) assert that similarity is a major source of attraction among individuals. This theory is based on the narrative that human beings portray a habit of liking people who they find to be similar to them. For instance, is a person with a decent self-esteem meets an individual depicting the same personalities they get satisfied with those characteristics.

Stereotyping basing on competencies. Stereotyping is the belief that since an individual comes from a particular group of people, then there is a likelihood that they are good at performing certain tasks (Boyce et al., 2010). For instance, many English people hold the belief that most of the Asian population are good at math and therefore tend to be given math-heavy positions.

Fear of competition. An organisation setting is one that has a highly competitive culture (Boyce et al., 2010). As a result, managers can be reluctant to hire individuals who are perceived to be more competent than them. Managers tend to employee money motivated personnel in industries where
Negative Impacts of Bias in Hiring

Stifling of innovation in organisations. For instance, confirmation bias dictates that an individual depends heavily on already established information without minding new ideas which could more or equally be important (Keck and Tang, 2015). Our minds are quick to compare the new data with the pre-existing assumptions that we hold. Consequently, this can lead us to become closed-minded and being dismissive of other people’s opinions because they fail to match our ideas.

It leads to low performance. Bias may seep into an organisation in many ways and gradually impact on the productivity of a firm (Keck and Tang, 2015). For instance, there is always the perception that overweight employees are poor performers of their tasks.

It may lead to the hiring of the wrong personnel. There are very many forms of bias which come into play when hiring individuals (Keck and Tang, 2015). For example, there is a perception that taller men are great in organisational management issues.

Recruitment and Selection Policy

The recruitment and selection of employees should be based on their competency. All candidates should not be discriminated against based on sex, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, or religion (Mamgain, 2018). Law forbids any form of workplace discrimination at the workplace, including remuneration plans, recruitment, and firing, transfer, layoff, recall, promotion, job advertisements, training programs, fringe benefits, or testing (Mamgain, 2018).

To avoid perceived or real family influence on the conflict of interest within the company during the recruitment process, the appointment shall not be given to a person who is a mother, father, daughter, son, sister or brother of a staff member. The prohibition applies to the recruitment of individuals at the company regardless of the type of contractual modality, including fixed term, permanent, continuing, individual contracts, and temporary appointment, which eliminates nepotism (Daskin, Arasli, & Kasim, 2015). Additionally, the Human Resources will only approve appointment of a person on temporary basis within the support staff area in response to the following reasons: there is a current vacancy and the selection process will take time before a permanent worker is employed; current worker is absent due to sick or maternity leave; the staff who is being replaced is missing due to annual or long leave according to the leave policy provisions; and lastly, when there are operational needs, such as workload increase on specific projects ((Daskin, Arasli, & Kasim, 2015). Temporary staff members are essential as they perform a vital service in providing interim relief labour, particularly in periods when the company is busy when an employee quits or takes a maternity or sick leave (Fuller and Stecy-Hildebrandt, 2015; De Cuyper, De Witte, and Van Emmerik, 2011).

Application of Learning

The essential knowledge acquired in the research can be applied to the elimination of HR bias. This can be done via stereotype replacement, counter stereotypical imaging, individuation, perspective taking, and increasing the opportunity for contact.

Stereotype Replacement

Stereotype replacement is a process where stereotypical responses are replaced automatically with new, automatic, non-stereotypical responses (Karpinska, 2013). This strategy is a bias habit- breaking intervention which produces an effective long-term reduction of bias by dealing with it instantly during interviews. According to Karpinska (2013), there are implicit biases experienced in various organisations. These biases are broken through a process of combined awareness of the existence of the bias, concerns about the effects of the bias, and the application of the various strategies to reduce the biases.

According to Devine et al. (2012), implicit race bias reduced at different levels in the society where we involve a vetting process in accordance with the demands of every position. Following the intervention of stereotype replacement approach, the margin of such biased hiring has been reduced significantly. The employment of the strategies at various levels of our organisations has led to an increase in concern about the discrimination and personal awareness of bias over the period of the study (Devine et al., 2012). The stereotype replacement intervention process includes recognising a response as stereotypical, labelling the response as stereotypical and identify why the response, and lastly, reconsidering alternative response to avoid the stereotypical response (Devine et al., 2012).

Counter Stereotypical imaging

This strategy is widely controlled by an individual’s mind where the imaginary stereotypical images develop in the individual’s mind. Counter-stereotypical imaging tries to challenge the stereotypical interviewer’s minds and make a positive image of the interviewee. For instance, Keck and Tang (2015) established that women are the most vulnerable group of biases when it comes to employment. In such a case, the most appropriate means through which this is solved is engaging the counter stereotyping approach.

Individuation

According to Godsil et al. (2014), individuation is a strategy that relies on preventing stereotypic inferences by obtaining specific data and information about a specific member of a collective group. Individuation involves a process where we try to avoid making or giving biased conclusions or judgments about the individuals based on gender, sexual orientation, race among others by giving individuality to persons in a group. According to Todd et al. (2011), individuation works by trying to obtain the information about individual members of a group instead of coming up with a generality about a particular group.

Perspective taking

Perspective taking is a vital technique that involves taking a particular first-person perspective of one of the members of a particular group. This strategy aids an individual to empathize and understand the implications of stereotyping (Todd et al. 2012). The perspective taking technique is applied and implemented by the interviewers with an effort to try and avoid being dragged by the forces of racial anxiety and biases to a particular member of a group (Todd et al. 2012). This effort will help in reduction of the dominant biases of most of the interviewers.
Increasing Opportunity for Contact

This strategic technique seeks to involve opportunities and instances to encounter and engage in positive association and interaction with the members that are out-grouped. According to Vezzali et al. (2012), the effect of indirect contact and increased level of interaction improves the biases through a wide variety of approaches and mechanisms. These methods include alternating the cognitive representation of the group in an interview.

Offering Awareness Training.

The very first step of dealing with biases issues is to realize that it is a factor which exists in workplaces and it is imperative to handle it, by being mindful of the importance of recruitment. Hyland et al. (2015) assert that mindfulness has a lot of benefits ranging from psychological, physical and even performance.

Personal Development

The skills that I have improved include an understanding of bias, which includes confirmation bias, anchoring, halo effect, overconfidence bias, and groupthink which lead to poor decision-making process during recruitment. In addition, there various unconscious biases that human resource managers make including similarity-attraction, stereotyping based on competencies, and fear of competition. These biases can lead to negative impacts in an organisation, including the stifling of innovation, low performance, and also hiring of the wrong personnel. I can use the information obtained in the future for human resource consultancy, as well as a human resource manager, which will improve my competence in hiring qualified and competent personnel. I can further develop them in the future by putting the knowledge into practice when I run my consultancy. I will do my hiring process or provide recruitment consultancy service by putting into consideration the bias in recruitment, as well as eliminating any form of discrimination. Therefore, the research process was a positive experience and each objective was effectively met.

Conclusion

One of the objectives of the report was to establish the best practices to eliminate bias in the recruitment process. The goal has been met since it has been established that strategies that can work include stereotype replacement, counter stereotypical imaging, individuation, perspective taking, and increasing opportunity for contact. The second objective was to determine the best considerations of a human resource management policy regarding the recruitment process. This has been met since it has been established that discrimination should be abhorred in the workplace based on sex, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, or religion and in all workplace remuneration plans, recruitment, and firing, transfer, layoff, recall, promotion, job advertisements, training programs, fringe benefits, or testing. The last objective was to develop knowledge regarding human resource hiring process for recruitment consulting practice, which has been met in that it should be devoid of discrimination and bias. Bias is a common issue and is considered harmful because it clouds the interviewer’s ability to carry out impartial interviews which consequently results in poor outcomes.
Recommendations
New knowledge that should be investigated include the interplay of gender and creation of stereotypes in the workplace. In addition, an investigation of the impact of gender and bias should be conducted. Gender is one of the leading cause of stereotyping of people in a workplace (Heilman & Eagly, 2008).
The existing knowledge can be applied in providing consultancy services, which will adequately aid in making recruitment decisions devoid of bias, as well as incorporating the best policies in recruiting personnel. Companies should also take time to make hiring decisions because immediate decisions create room for biases. To slow down the quick decision-making process, activities like group decision making, intense screening of resumes, and engaging in interview meetings create structures which can slow down the process of decision making in an organisation thus creating room for a more objective scrutiny of the interviewees’ credentials.

To advance the skills further, it is recommended that I work in a human resource department where actual hiring takes place to further polish my skills. In addition, further research on best hiring practices through case studies can further advance my knowledge and skills.

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