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Saving recruiters from unconscious biases

In her job as an organisational psychology consultant, Sofie Seland Amundsen helps companies re-cruit the right people, and not the ones they like the most.

Through large windows from the office in Stortingsgata in central Oslo, Sofie can see the king when he enters the Norwegian parliament to open a new session for the politicians of the nation. In the other direction, she has a view of the royal castle – the king´s home. The current monarch is very popular in Norway and he performs his duties well. Nevertheless, he did not exactly need to apply for his job.

In the public or private sector, on the other hand, companies that need innovation, profitability and a good work culture cannot simply depend on choosing employees who were born lucky. This is where Sofie comes in. She studied at BI to learn about organizational psychology and personality testing, and today she works at Aon Assessment Solutions.

Finding the right candidate

”Before I graduated from BI, Aon Assessment Solutions, also known as Cut-e, hired me as an organisational psychology consultant. The company helps businesses find the right people and put them in the right jobs,” Sofie explains.

”We develop and sell psychological tests that are widely used in hiring or developing employees. We help our clients to map their candidates using our tools. But if the customer is not certified, we can carry out the whole process of tests, interviews and assessments.”

Therefore, in general, Sofie has little to do with individual candidates, but she shows clients how to use the tools, how to implement the process and how to evaluate the results.

“I do a lot of different things. Right now, I am leading courses, and we are certifying our customers so they can hold tests for their employees or applicants themselves.”

The importance of personal fitness

Sofie says that there is quite a bit of meeting activity. There are often two types of meetings: follow-ups with customers about how they can use the tests, and sales meetings, where she talks to potential customers.

”Projects that can grow over time. For example, we help an agency create tests that can provide some scoring indicators of personal fitness for a profession or special tasks. In some professions personal fitness is important, for example in the police or when working with children or security. So, I sometimes get involved in projects tailored to the individual customer.”

Reducing discrimination

“We are also proud that we make more objective and standardised tests so that there is less chance of discrimination against candidates. With our tests, you avoid judgment, gut feelings and intuition in the search for final candidates. You end up with those who are actually the best and not just who people like the best.”

It also happens that Sofie conducts candidate assessments of final candidates, that is, she interviews people based on the personality tests that have been performed.

”What is so interesting when you start using objective measures is that you find that most people are not really good at predicting other people’s behaviour. We think that we know who is going to be a good candidate for a job just by talking to them. However, usually what you are doing is picking the candidate that you like the most. You do this automatically, because we have unconscious biases. Everyone does. And when you’re using tests, you’re able to reduce some of those unconscious biases to increase diversity and decrease discrimination.”

Psychology at work

Aaon is not a recruitment agency, but a firm that develops and sells different psychological tests that customers use in recruitment and selection but also in retainment, development and talent acquisitions processes.

”One part of my job is to get new clients to start using our tests. That means I can go to meetings with potential clients and tell them about the reasons they should start using psychological testing in their recruitment processes. A lot of research and science has proven that actual ability and personality are measures that we can trust, instead of using our own intuition when picking out a candidate.”