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Virtues of Virtual: How virtual hiring platforms help curb hiring bias

Candidate experience has become crucial to the entire virtual hiring process, which is now a trend due to the pandemic

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DQINDIA Online
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The endemic and its ramifications wreaked havoc on hiring teams and proved to be a defining moment for the recruitment industry as virtual recruiting and remote onboarding of the workforce became the norm. No one has been spared the fury of the coronavirus pandemic, from small businesses to large multinationals. A silver lining was that businesses were forced to accelerate their adoption of technology to better attract and retain their employees and consumers. There was a dramatic rise in hiring numbers within a few months of the onset of COVID-19. As businesses had to shift online, companies embarked on an unfamiliar virtual journey through digitisation. 

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Because of recruiters’ reliance on digital assessment tools and hiring platforms, candidates were able to showcase their abilities much better. The primary goal of eliminating hiring bias is to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Promoting diversity contributes to welcoming different perspectives in an organisation, which in turn helps drive innovation, optimise or scale operations, and establish a positive culture that promotes growth. Global survey across industries found that 65 percent of companies have hired a new candidate without ever meeting them face to face. Recruiters now have access to a global talent pool and the job opportunities for candidates have multiplied as geographical constraints cease to exist. 

These factors have contributed to higher attrition rates and continue to challenge companies to redefine their hiring strategies. Organisations have hired nearly 3-5 times their normal staff and the number of campus hires has also nearly doubled. According to industry experts, turnover rates that were sitting at 10-15 per cent before the pandemic, have now risen to 20-25 per cent  and in some cases have even reached 30 per cent. 

Evolution and changing approaches of the recruitment industry

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In the past few years, the hiring process has been largely faceless. Since candidates have not walked into physical offices and not met many people in the organisation as part of the hiring process- branding has become a big focus area for organisations. The industry has also become more candidate-centric- as opposed to hiring managers. More investments have gone into candidate reception, validation, processing, and onboarding. Lateral hiring has also taken a more candidate focussed approach. 

Even the role of a recruiter has changed dramatically throughout the years as a result of new technologies, economic trends, and changing business needs. ​​​​Candidate vetting strategies such as predictive analytical models, advanced AI tools, talent assessment platforms help evaluate even cognitive abilities, skills, as well as specific behavioral qualities of prospective candidates. Today we also have more advanced tools such as AI-proctored assessments, video-based interviews, and psychometric tests, and identity verification integrated into the process to validate candidate identity. This process ensures identifying top talent more efficiently through a 360-degree assessment of candidates. This indicates that the recruitment industry is shedding old habits and adopting some potentially game-changing approaches. 

Dynamics in the recruitment industry has had a dramatic evolution over time, for candidates as well. From in-person interviews and paper CVs to intelligent virtual assessment platforms, we have seen the sector grow through shifting paradigms in the industry. Especially in the recent past, with the candidates, interviewers, and recruiters, all being in separate locations due to the pandemic, technology was adopted at an accelerated rate to ensure smooth communication. Candidate experience has become crucial to the entire virtual hiring process. Online proctoring and assessment methods have been  instrumental in attracting and onboarding the right candidates. 

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Implicit bias in hiring, its causes and effect on the recruitment process

When it comes to hiring, unconscious bias occurs when someone forms an opinion about a prospect simply based on initial impressions. Even in the early phases of the hiring process, a candidate's resume image, name, or birthplace may have a greater impact on their decision than they believe. In other words, unconscious bias influences the decision based on variables that are irrelevant to the job, whether positively or adversely. 

How virtual hiring platforms reduce hiring bias

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These days, almost all industries have shifted their hiring processes online to ensure business continuity during the global pandemic. Employers were previously skeptical of the process's integrity due to the significant risk of bias in large-scale hiring. Employers are now finding it simpler to screen, appraise, and interview candidates remotely because of the advancement of AI tools and technology.

Virtual assessments, which are carried out by the use of AI, produce fair, accurate, and objective results. This technology is enabling interviewers to evaluate the core skills of the candidate with precision, and hence, the data produced is straightforward and unbiased. Organisations are using interview services for evaluations due to the present scale and rise in recruiting. Rather than making selections based on a candidate's gender, race, or background, hiring managers can now focus only on candidates' talents and skills through the use of virtual hiring platforms. 

College hiring is an example where virtual hiring has had the most influence. Last year, nearly thirty thousand candidates were hired by one of the largest IT services companies, with candidates coming from both in and off-campus. In a pre-covid world, the complete planning, coordination and execution process for employing such a large number of people would have taken about a year. However, the entire operation was completed in less than six months, thanks to virtual hiring technology. 

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Virtual hiring platforms use technology to objectively screen and filter candidates from large volumes of data. It uses algorithms to aggregate these data sets and generate predictions about the best candidates for the position. When it comes to processing information on such a large scale, manual screening falls short on many counts. Intelligent parsing and search engines outperform humans in terms of resume shortlisting rates since fatigue sets in after a while when processing large volumes. To recapitulate, as long as the proper mechanisms are utilised, there is no bias and, in fact, the results are better to human judgment.

Why eliminating hiring bias is essential for the success of any business

Bias in the hiring process is often the reason why firms struggle to attain diversity. Hiring decisions are often made based on personal preference, whim, or experience, which prevents the ideal candidate from joining the organisation. Many a time, a non-technical candidate coming from a diverse background might be able to contribute to accomplishing the company's overall goals. This prejudice can be eliminated with the correct automation and tools. 

In the near future, AI will be able to locate excellent candidates for a post before a recruiter ever begins looking. The existing human resource systems will transition from data-driven to AI-driven. As of 2022, AI will be personalised and individually linked to each of these areas based on the company’s specific business requirements.

The article has been written by S. Pasupathi, Chief Operating Officer, HirePro

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