Human Resources expert, Nicole Parsons has built a prolific career working with organizations to optimize their hiring processes and make right-fit selections when choosing new employees. Specializing in HR systems, diversity management, and gender equity in the workplace, Nicole understands the importance of having a thorough evaluation process when hiring new team members.
“There are key components to any quality hiring process,” says Nicole Parsons of NewFoundland, “and these tools standardize the process while accounting for equitable hiring practices and neutralizing unconscious bias when possible.”
The importance of diversifying recruitment sources and hiring teams lays the groundwork for successful evaluation processes, and there are 7 key tools that improve the hiring process and ensure the best candidates find their way to the right positions with the company.
How can unconscious bias affect the hiring process?
There are implicit biases that influence much of what we do, including our judgement when hiring, recruiting, and making decisions during the hiring process. These biases are often easy to overlook or discount but are shaped by our experiences, background, and culture. When these biases affect the way decision makers perceive job candidates, this can lead to decisions that discount merit. The ultimate result is a lack of diversity and inclusion within a work environment which limits the team’s strength, perspective, and talent pool.
What are the seven best tools for evaluating during the hiring process?
“When we consider the common evaluation tools for hiring,” says Nicole Parsons, “there is often room for unconscious bias within the traditional hiring construct. While the tools themselves can be valuable, it’s important to approach the process with a comprehensive understanding of how our own biases get in the way of using the tools well to get the ideal result.”
There are valuable tools at hand to help hiring teams choose the ideal candidate for open positions, and when executed properly, these tools point to the best candidates for each position in an organization.
- Resumes and cover letters are a common way to learn about a candidate’s work history, education, and other relevant experiences. When resumes are reviewed through a blind resume screening process, information that could support an unconscious bias—name, address, education—is redacted to minimize the information’s impact on hiring decisions.
- Online assessments including cognitive ability tests, personality tests, and skills-based assessments allow hiring teams to account for measurable skills that are not as easily affected by the subjectivity present in interviews and even in reviewing resumes.
- Structured Interviews with standardized question sets designed to be asked of all candidates ensures interviews are uniform and conducted in a way which minimizes bias.
- Reference Checks are a supplemental tool which can help solidify first impressions, but they are often limited in scope depending on the state and are tinged with bias as most employees will list reference contacts who have been prepped and primed by the employee to expect a call from hiring managers.
- Background Checks provide basic information about credit, criminal activity, and living situations. The use of background checks as a key indicator of character wreaks of bias, however using these checks to ensure safety and eligibility to work in certain roles can be helpful.
- Portfolio Reviews provide a firsthand look at work samples and other indicators of a job candidate’s skill set. While portfolios are often used in design work, they can be a valuable tool in evaluating candidates for other positions as well. The portfolio gives context to the skills and experience mentioned in the resume. Like the resume, viewing a portfolio can be tinged with bias, so proceed with caution.
- Job Shadowing or a trial period to ensure the candidate is a proper fit can be a risk of resources, but the ultimate investment is often worth it if it means bringing the right employees onto a team.
Understanding how tools can both help and harm the hiring process allows hiring teams to work within a smaller margin of bias, working constantly to improve procedures and engage the entire talent pool in an equitable interview and screening process.
About Nicole Parsons
Nicole Parsons lives in Newfoundland where she has built her career as a human resource specialist over the past 20+ years. She is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland where she received her Bachelor of Commerce Honors Degree. She was formerly a member of the Training & Qualifications Committee with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. In 2016, she joined Nalcor Energy as Director of Corporate Services. She has managed a wide portfolio which includes corporate policies, engagement, payroll & benefits, diversity, and talent management.
As a passionate advocate for women in leadership, Parsons has implemented strategic diversity initiatives for many organizations. She sits on the Board of Directors for Choices for Youth and was a member of the Steering Committee for Empowering Futures with Electricity HR Canada. With her intrinsic understanding of subconscious bias and a strong ethical foundation, advocating for gender equality in the workplace is vital to the mission of Nicole Parsons.