What is implicit bias? It’s an important question to ask, especially in recruiting and hiring. But the concept is often misunderstood.

Implicit bias is the unconscious perception and attitude we bring to every interaction. Everyone has it, and no one is fully aware of how deep it runs or what their exact biases are. Implicit bias operates on a different level than rational thought and has a powerful impact on the decisions we make and the opinions we form.

For recruiters and hiring professionals, then, it’s vital to make data-driven hiring decisions based on objective evaluations — not subconsciously held biases. That’s not only the ethical approach, but it’s also the best way to compare candidates against each other and find the best of the bunch. However, implicit bias can creep into the process and unfairly influence the perception of a candidate, either positively or negatively.

Everyone involved with hiring needs to acknowledge that implicit bias is real, universal, and problematic. But there are ways to remove it from recruiting — and make better hires as a result.

Eliminating Bias in Hiring With Skills Testing

The more human recruiters are involved with evaluating candidates, the more implicit bias compromises the hiring process. It bears repeating that everyone has implicit bias, and no amount of self-policing can eliminate it from our decision-making.

The solution, then, is a hiring process that relies on data and neutral tools instead of a solely human-driven one. One of those tools is validated preemployment skills testing. These tests measure a candidate’s skills in clear, quantifiable terms that allow for data-based hiring instead of hiring based on opinions and perceptions.

Ensuring Legal, Valid Skills Testing

It’s important to know, though, that not every skills test addresses bias in the hiring process. Skills tests must be validated as fair, accurate, and objective to be truly neutral and effective. When they’re not, job candidates who fail them have the right to join a lawsuit, leading to class-action lawsuits with large numbers of plaintiffs and settlements in the tens of millions of dollars. Target paid almost $3 million to settle a lawsuit alleging biased skills tests, to name just one example.

To ensure you conduct fair, unbiased testing, work with a third-party test provider that understands the law and the consequences of implicit bias on skills tests. These providers go to great lengths to create neutral, bias-free, and accessible tests for hiring. And their tests seek to minimize — or even eliminate — legal risk because they’ve been validated to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Third-party test vendors such as TestGenius also allow you to go one step further and develop custom skills tests that are specifically tailored to the needs of your job. In this way, you are able to provide maximum fidelity and predictive power to your selection decisions. Just keep in mind that all tests, whether they’re off-the-shelf or custom-designed ones, should be locally validated to provide maximum legal defensibility.

Data-based hiring produces better employees more reliably, and preemployment skills testing from the right providers supplies the necessary data. Test vendors should be willing to provide a “validity report” proving that their tests are free of implicit bias and anything else that could disadvantage some test-takers over others, which helps assure you that adopting these tests into your hiring processes is the right decision. Visit us here to learn more about how TestGenius ensures validation in our preemployment skills testing solutions.