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Recruiters can't help hiring 'mini me', says behavioural science report

No matter how hard they might try to find and hire the best candidates, most recruiters unconsciously opt for people similar to themselves, says a CIPD report.

The report, 'A Head for Hiring: The Behavioural Science of Recruitment', says: "Employers selecting only for people who seem similar to themselves or their colleagues can put people of a different race, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status at a disadvantage. This has implications not only for fairness but also for long-term business needs such as innovation and organisational responsiveness to market changes."

Biases at play

It identifies a number of different biases at play behind recruitment decisions, including 'affinity bias', which leads people to like those who are similar to them or someone they know; and 'status quo bias', which may make employers feel more comfortable with candidates who are similar to those they have hired before.

"We like to think we can spot talent, but insights from behavioural science show that our decision-making is actually highly prone to 'sloppy thinking' and bias," said CIPD research advisor Jonny Gifford.

Fairness is good for business

Two new Acas guides can help small businesses and HR managers rule out bias and support diversity in your workforce. The first, 'pdf icon Recruiting staff guide [360kb]', offers a structured, step-by-step approach to finding good candidates and hiring staff. It offers key tips and tools to help make your recruitment process fair, which inherently increases your chances of employing people with the skills and experience your organisation needs.

The second, 'pdf icon Starting staff: induction guide [356kb]' sets out an induction phase, so often overlooked by employers, that will help new recruits start on the right foot and ease their way into a new role. The tools, templates and checklists in these guides are invaluable.

Acas publications and services

View our new guides to Recruitment and induction on the Acas website.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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