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Cutting Out Recruitment Bias Once And For All

In the world of recruitment, there’s a commonly used metric that we hear more often than any other. It’s called ‘time-to-fill’ – it’s the number of days it takes to fill your vacancy from the time the opening occurs to the time the candidate accepts the job offer. According to a 2017 report by the Society for Human Resource Management, the average time-to-fill is 36 days. You might be thinking, ‘Hmm … that’s not so bad’.

However, this is something of an over-simplification. Let’s break things down a little. The average length of the job interview process is 24 days. Taking both these figures, we’re left with just 12 days for the remainder of the recruitment process. That’s 12 days to plan, source, select, background check, etc. Doesn’t seem quite so appealing now, does it? You spend two-thirds of your time interviewing candidates, so surely you should dedicate a similar amount of time and effort in making the right decision. After all, getting the selection part of the hiring process wrong can be expensive.

Employee turnover is costly

Clearly, your Practice needs to avoid high employee turnover. With the cost of a bad hire ranging from 1-3 times annual salary, let alone the impact on employee engagement and morale, it’s something you need to avoid.

Here’s the problem – if you rush the selection process, you could open yourself up to bias – showing irrational prejudice in for or against a particular candidate.

Here are some common instances of recruitment bias – conscious or otherwise –

  1. Contrast effect
    This occurs when you compare candidates to each other rather than to your Practice’s performance standard. “Sean is a better candidate than Joe” instead of “Sean fits the parameters we’re looking for more closely than Joe”.
  1. First-impressions
    Never base your opinion of a candidate on their first impression. It’s so easy to do. It could be a judgement you make based on the way they dress – or tattoos even. “Martin turned up in jeans. Clearly, he’s not serious about this vacancy.”
  1. The Halo effect
    This happens when you allow a single positive qualification or trait to take precedence over everything. “Janine has so much enthusiasm. She’s ideal for the job.”
  1. The Horn effect
    The exact opposite of the Halo effect. In this situation – one negative trait leads you to unfair prejudice towards the candidate. “Linda seemed really nervous during the interview. She’ll never be able to handle the pressure of working in our Practice.”
  1. Negative emphasis
    When you make assumptions about a candidate based on minor negative responses to your questions. A candidate confesses that they “failed” at something or made a “mistake”. You suddenly decide that this disqualifies them.
  1. Nonverbal bias
    You become over-influenced by body language. For example, the room is cold. The candidate folds their arms and you conclude that they’re no longer interested in the role. Or perhaps the candidates is simply showing understandable nerves.
  1. ‘Just like me’ syndrome
    This occurs when you rate the candidate based on characteristics that you see in yourself. “I’m good at my job, so someone who’s like me will also be good at their job.” Of course, what your Practice should be looking for is someone who has different qualities from you and will, therefore, be bringing these qualities to the workplace.
  1. Stereotyping
    You assume that a candidate has specific traits because they’re a member of a particular group. “Oh, these people are great workers but they’re never great at independent thinking.”

Taking bias out of the accountancy recruitment equation

The way you’ll do this is by maintaining your awareness that biases exist. Finally, just make sure to take your time to prepare carefully prior to the interviews. In the long run, everyone will benefit.

Find out more about removing bias from your candidate selection process.

Get in touch. We’re the accountancy recruitment specialists and we’d love to help.

Call 0333 577 7787.

Email –

Or complete our submission form.


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