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Prejudice-free recruitment helps finding the right candidates

Even for the most experienced of HR-people, it is close to impossible to evaluate competence in a completely objective manner. This has to do with humans being subjective creatures, who are steered by preconceptions and preferences. So how can a fair recruitment process be created? Perhaps part of the answers lies in what the recruitment firm TNG calls “Fördomsfri rekrytering” (prejudice-free recruitment) – a concept which SEB now applies for its trainee and tech programs.

It is a well-documented fact that subjective factors affect how we evaluate competence and that false notions can lead to discrimination based on, for example, gender or ethnicity. In 2013, a study was conducted at Lund University in southern Sweden, where a group of researches replied to over 5,500 job ads. The researches created fictive applicants, named Erik and Hassan. The study showed that the applicant with a traditional Swedish name, Erik, had a 50 per cent bigger chance of getting an interview.

In order to make a fair evaluation and identity the most suitable candidates, it is important to try to rid the process of subjective factors. It was this insight that led the HR department at SEB to start collaborating with TNG concerning the recruitment for the bank's trainee and tech programs. Anna Sjöborg, recruitment partner for the programs at SEB, explains:

"Within HR at SEB, we have a clear focus on making our recruitment processes as accurate and fair as possible, which is why working with "fördomsfri rekrytering" felt completely natural to us."

In somewhat simplified terms, the method that TNG employs has its core in not looking at the candidates' resume as a first step. Instead, the applicants start out by taking a number of tests. These are the types of tests that in most cases would be used right at the end of the recruitment process.

"Before anything else, all applicants take different tests online – for example aptitude and personality tests. The types of tests vary, depending on which skills are considered the most important for the job in question. The test results are then anonymized, before they are handled by our recruiters, which means the answers can not be linked to a specific person. All of this means that we are able to assess the candidates' competencies and potential in an objective manner", Charlotte Ulvros, Marketing and Digital Manager at TNG, says.

Case days – but still no resume for the managers

TNG picks six different candidates for every available position within SEB's trainee program and tech program. The next step in the recruitment process is the so called "case days".

"During the case days, the candidates get to work on two different business cases – one group case and one individual case. Based on how the candidates perform, the manager responsible for the position picks two of them for final interviews. It is not until this point that the manager gets to see the candidates' resume, which diminishes the risk that irrelevant personal preferences might affect the decision on which candidate to hire", Anna Sjöborg says.

TNG's "fördomsfri rekrytering"-concept was employed for the first time for the trainee and tech programs that started in 2019. The recruitment for this year's programs is currently running.