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The Power of Subtraction in Your Hiring Process


The burden of excess

Imagine you are packing a suitcase for an upcoming trip. Filled to the brim with everything you might need, you discover that your suitcase is much too full and exceeds the permissible weight of the airlines.

You set about pondering solutions for your dilemma – packing more compactly, securing a larger suitcase. Adding space or rearranging the contents, however, does not solve the problem. A larger suitcase adds only more weight, making the burden of its contents loom larger. Only in being more consciously selective about the items you need does your suitcase become lighter and more practical. 

Creating space for subtraction

As recruiters and talent acquisition professionals, we sometimes face a similar challenge. Our recruiting systems and processes are often clunky to begin with. In looking to optimize, we search for new solutions and technologies. We assume that identifying and adding a missing solution will resolve our pain points.

What if our problem is that we already have too much? Too many moving pieces, distractions, complications, and noise. Unconscious bias thrives amid chaos, as our brains use heuristics or shortcuts to save time. Subtraction, and the resulting simplification, can be powerful. 

However, this is not to say that adopting new technologies and introducing new solutions isn’t advantageous. But doing so without honest assessment and consideration of what is superfluous or no longer needed will only serve to further clutter and complicate your process. 

What is essential?

When we start by identifying and prioritizing what is essential, it can help clear out and eliminate excess that often muddies the hiring process and creates opportunities for bias. A great example of excess can be found in job descriptions. 

Job descriptions can be noisy. Whether from fluffy language, historical qualifications, or problematic words. Not only does this cloud a candidate’s understanding of the role and possibly detract them from applying, but it also exhibits a lack of clarity in what your company is looking for in a candidate. Remember, less is more.

To help cut through the noise:

  1. Start by identifying the core competencies for a role.
  2. Craft your words around these requirements.
  3. Remove anything that might distract from what you’re looking for.
  4. Run your job description through an optimizer to detect any research-based problematic words and replace them with inclusive ones.

By subtracting the redundancies, you’ll attract a broader and more qualified pool of candidates as well as arm yourself with clarity for the screening process. 

Cut through the noise

Resumes are packed with information. It can be challenging to remain focused and screen for core job criteria with so many details present. Our brains turn to snap decisions for efficiency, but the outcomes are neither fair nor equitable. 

Subtraction comes in handy to help us to stay focused. By eliminating details that are prone to cause biased decisions, redaction technology lets you focus on skills, knowledge, and experience while blocking out names, email addresses, headshots, schools, previous employers, dates, and affiliations. 

Hiring, simplified

Subtracting subjectivity in the interview process is vital. At no other stage in the hiring process are there more opportunities for subjectivity and partiality. 

Consciously selecting interview questions related to each core competency and assigning questions to specific interviewers keeps them focused and on track. Using the same structured interview plan to assess all candidates offers an equitable experience. In addition, it also leaves you with more data points to make a conscious and informed decision. 

If you are having trouble streamlining your systems and eliminating unconscious bias in your hiring process, start by defining what is essential. Consider simplification as a tool to be wielded. Removing excess and building conscious inclusion consideration into your hiring process will help you make better decisions each step of the way.