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Hiring Bias in Cybersecurity

The Importance of Eliminating Bias in the Hiring Process

The average person makes about 35,000 decisions every single day. That is roughly one decision every two seconds. Though we may believe ourselves to be unbiased and fair in our decisions, the reality is that human nature plays a part with every decision we make. According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “we are biologically hardwired to align with people like us and reject those whom we consider different”. 

The fact is, our unconscious biases play a large role in our decision-making processes. It is an unfortunate truth, but one we need to acknowledge and overcome—especially in the hiring process. Even those hiring managers and recruiters we believe to be fair-minded are likely to display a certain degree of hiring bias. As covered above, they may not even be aware of this bias.

Cybersecurity hiring is no different and is just as vulnerable to unconscious biases. Jobs in the cybersecurity sector are increasing at a rate nearly three times that of the overall IT market, but there is a significant shortage of candidates. Mistakes made in the cybersecurity hiring process can cost the company a large amount of money. Because of this, it is even more vital that you are hiring the right candidate for the role. 

Eliminating Bias in Hiring

Hiring a candidate that is the wrong fit for the role, or the company, will cost you money in the long run—or even in the short term. Employee turnover can be an expensive process. In the cybersecurity industry, though, you also need to worry about the bad actors, the risk of criminal activity, and your cybersecurity team’s capabilities of handling these threats. Verizon found that 85% of breaches involved a human element. The right candidate matters for your company’s bottom line. 

While the interview stage of the hiring process tends to be where the most biased decisions are made, steps can be taken to eliminate bias in hiring from the very beginning. It can start in the job listing. 

Job descriptions that include “masculine language” can deter female candidates from even applying to the position. By adjusting the language in the listing, you can begin with a more diverse pool of candidates. 

Blind resume reviews are also an option for those looking to eliminate hiring bias early in the process. By eliminating the items on a resume that display “demographic characteristics”, you can focus your attention on the qualifications and talents without unconscious bias. 

Eliminating Bias in Interviews

Eliminating bias-based decisions in the early stages of the hiring process is important, but unconscious bias is even more prevalent in the interview process. Hiring managers tend to make quick decisions on candidates during interviews. Many have already made an unconscious decision about a candidate in the first seven seconds of meeting them. Over 60% make a hiring decision within the first 15 minutes of the interview.

Removing the opportunities to make biased-based decisions in the applicant review process can give you a much more diverse pool of candidates, and allows your open position to be filled by the right candidate the first time around. The question remains: how do hiring managers and HR Departments take steps to assess each of the candidates objectively? Fortunately, there are several options available. 

Complete a phone screening first

If you begin the interview process with a phone screening or short phone interview, you can remove many of the unconscious bias triggers that occur during interviews. Phone screening also tends to be more standardized, which will allow you to widdle down the potential hires and leave you with a more qualified list for the next step. 

Consider a panel interview

Panel interviews can be intimidating for the potential employees, but they can be beneficial. By introducing a variety of people into the interview process, you can make a decision that overlooks the individual biases. 

Avoid making snap judgments

It is natural to make an immediate, snap judgment when meeting a person for the first time. First impressions do matter and it can be very difficult to overlook this original view of a person. Snap judgments can make you more biased towards the candidate, though. If you have a positive first impression, you are more likely to look for evidence that supports this judgment. The same can be said for a negative first impression. 

Consider data-driven decision making

Including data insights in your decision-making process can effectively eliminate hiring bias and ensure that you are choosing the right candidate for the role. This is especially true for cybersecurity roles. By eliminating part of the human element with technology, you can get the facts on a candidate’s capabilities.

Eliminating Unconscious Hiring Bias with a One-of-a-Kind Aptitude Test

Cybersecurity is not one-size-fits-all. Unrealistic expectations and long hiring processes are common when hiring for a cybersecurity expert at any level of the organization. Haystack Solutions has developed the world’s only cyber aptitude and talent assessment, CyberGEN.IQ. This is a non-linguistic-based assessment that measures the skills and abilities in four cognitive domains: initiating, responding, real-time, and exhaustive. 

With a 97% accuracy in predicting job performance and mapping talent to job roles, you can rest assured that you are selecting the right candidate for the position without human biases. You can see the test in action here and schedule a consultation with the Haystack team. Discover how data-driven decisions can help you make the right cybersecurity hires today with Haystack Solutions’ CyberGEN.IQ cyber aptitude and talent assessment.