Recruiting Insights


How to spot unconscious bias in hiring by monitoring pass through rates

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Patrick Wu

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a top priority for many companies today. The lack of representation in tech is largely due to an “Access Gap,” limiting opportunities for certain groups to succeed in this field.

Much has been written about best practices to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process, using proven strategies such as resume blind, standardized interviews, and gender-neutral job descriptions. Yet there are still numerous areas for unconscious bias to influence the hiring process before the hire is made.

Our experience conducting interviews for 400+ companies found that one of the most common stages where bias occurs is during the pass-thru stage. This is where recruiters review the results of the technical assessment and choose candidates to invite to the next round of interviews, typically the onsite loop.

Trusting the results of a pass/fail technical stage helps to reduce bias by relying on performance alone, but recruiters often have to manually choose which candidates will move on to the next round. This manual selection phase is where companies need to be hypervigilant of the potential for unconscious bias. Other factors such as sourcing quality, bandwidth limitations, offer acceptance, and hiring goals can also influence the selection process.

To reduce bias at this critical point in the hiring process, companies must track and scrutinize their pass-through rates. Checking for pass-through bias can reveal if candidates who score similarly from different backgrounds are not being advanced at the same rate. Pedigree and implicit biases can result in majority demographics being favored, even if their performance is equal.

Before and After DEI charts analyzing pass-thru rates to ensure fairnessDEI pass-thru rate audit
The company in the example above found that male candidates from the “Requires further review” recommendation tier were being moved forward to the onsite stage more often than female candidates. This was quickly resolved with additional recruiter training and the continued tracking of this metric.

In conclusion

Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce requires a multi-faceted approach to reduce bias at every stage of the hiring process. This pass-thru audit is a simple yet effective way to facilitate an onsite interview stage that is fair and equal. This ensures that both candidates and hiring managers are set up for success.

Looking for help in auditing your diverse hiring pipeline? Karat can help. Request a consultation.

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