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How first-time hiring managers can recruit inclusively

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 13 Jun 2024

Here’s how to find the right candidate

Being asked to find your company’s next rising star is a wonderful opportunity to help shape the future of the business. Even if sourcing the perfect recruit doesn’t fit within your usual role, the rewards for finding the right person can be huge.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand that everyone has unconscious bias, so you should always make sure you consider this when hiring employees.

RICS senior HR business partner Kay Meredith says: ‘Recruitment is about making complex and often high-stakes decisions in a limited time frame. This creates an environment that is conducive to cognitive biases.

‘So, when you are recruiting, put some safeguards in place and embed inclusive practices in the process. In short, practise conscious inclusion.’

Focus on what you want the new starter to bring

Careful preparation and a clear understanding of what skills and experience are critical for the role are a good starting point. Make sure the job description focuses on the skill sets you’re looking for and doesn’t unfairly rule out a great candidate due to unconscious bias.

Kay adds: ‘When you think about experience, it is not always about the years worked. You can ask candidates to demonstrate the skill the role requires at the interview stage.

‘Challenge yourself about what you think is an essential skill for the role – most of the time people can learn certain nice-to-have skills on the job. Ask yourself what this role offers to candidates in terms of career growth and advancement.’

Always recognise the importance of following an inclusive recruitment process. One way of helping to draw up an inclusive candidate shortlist is arranging for all CVs to be anonymised as a safeguard against cognitive bias.

Kay says: ‘Having safeguards in place ensures a fairer recruitment process, which leads to a diverse shortlist of candidates to interview and select from.’

Ask for interview and recruitment advice

With CVs assessed, the interview is the next critical next stage in finding the perfect applicant, whether it is conducted online or in person.

As with most new experiences, the more planning you do and information you gather before the interview the smoother things tend to go. If you have an HR department, ask for all company policies relating to interviews. Be sure at least to find out what questions are illegal to ask 

It’s also important to clarify your role during the interview, and share information about the whole process with the interviewee.

RICS’ talent acquisition manager Daniel Shakespeare insists the pressure should not fall entirely on first-time hiring managers. To prevent any unconscious bias, invite others to form an interview panel – but ensure it is sufficiently diverse.

He says: ‘If a business is using inclusive recruitment processes, it should follow that interview panels will be diverse. Having colleagues from other departments who will work alongside the new hire is important so they can give their perspective on whether that candidate has the right skill sets for their team too.’

Draw up an objective framework

The interview is your chance to assess a candidate’s aptitude for the role. Draw up a competency checklist of the required skill sets and experience required by the role to provide a framework for the interview. Then create a scorecard that grades candidates on their ability to demonstrate them effectively.

This is not a popularity contest. You are not looking for someone who you would want to be friends with, someone who attended a university you prefer or whose main attribute is that they were recommended by a colleague or family member. You need to be dispassionate and fair, giving all candidates an equitable opportunity.

Be appropriate. Don’t go for nice-to-have options that aren’t necessary to do the role well. Perhaps you could prepare standard positive and negative indicators for all candidates in advance, based on the questions in the checklist.

For example, if you ask each candidate how they will deal with certain situations, the indicators you put in place will ensure consistency and fairness in the way you judge them. Similarly, such indicators will help you understand whether a candidate aligns with your company values or is radically opposed to them.

Demonstrate your commitment to inclusion

No candidate should have to ask what the salary is or be asked what their current salary is. Neither should they have to ask about company benefits, flexible working policies, or company values and how they are enacted. This information should all be included in the job description, or disclosed in advance of the interview.

Create the right environment for the interview

Ensure that you can talk in a quiet area free from distractions to get a true picture of the candidate. If you’re leading an online interview, make sure the technology is working beforehand.

Frame your questions so that they prompt open, honest, explanatory and more detailed answers to gain a better insight into the person’s knowledge and capacity to do the role.

It should have been clear from the job advert that reasonable adjustments are available. Talk to the candidate about how the company believes in the benefits of reasonable adjustments, and reiterate that these are available if required.

Liaise with colleagues and recruiters

Keep checking in with your HR team and any external consultants throughout the process to ensure consistency in your approach. They can share invaluable knowledge at specific stages of the recruitment process and safeguard you against bias.

Ask about RICS diversity and inclusion training, which is available free of charge for members who have the qualification or the CPD support packages. This will give reassurance about what questions you can or can’t ask.

Familiarising yourself with recruitment law and how to conduct inclusive interviews will foster your confidence.

Change the face of the built environment sector

Recruiting for the first time puts you in a privileged position where you can help transform the built environment sector.

Brilliant people are applying for surveying jobs, but are not getting through because of preconceived ideas and unconscious bias. That is where first-time hiring managers can start to change the face of the profession.