Mastering Ethical Hiring

A Comprehensive Guide by Alooba

At Alooba our vision is to create a world where everyone can get the job that they deserve. It’s fair to say, we’re a long way from this world! One day at a time, as they say.

Hiring, as an industry, has a lot to answer for. Traditional hiring is fundamentally broken. Part of this is that it’s an incredibly one-sided equation, with employers setting the tone and generally holding all the cards and setting the rules of the game. The outcome of this imbalance is real inequality - for example the gender pay gap in Australia still stands above 14%, and it will reportedly take 100 years for women to be equally represented in the CEO role of top companies and currently 90% the directors of the top 300 companies in Australia are Anglo-Saxon.

For a brief period in 2022, with unemployment rates at record lows in some countries, this balance of power rebalanced. It’s been interesting to see the shoe suddenly on the other foot, with candidates, almost collectively stung by years of mistreatment at the hands of large organizations, biting back with counter-offers, day 1 no shows and hard bargaining. Leverage always helps!

With this greater power among candidates also came greater expectations, with candidates generally being braver to call out dodgy company practices where they saw them. You need only scroll through your LinkedIn feed, read Glassdoor reviews or review Reddit threads like this one, this one or this one to note how terribly some candidates are treated.

Alooba is here to be part of the solution, not the problem. After years of first hand experience of all the issues in traditional hiring - including learning from our own mistakes - we’re delighted to have created the Alooba Ethical Hiring Guide.

The Alooba Ethical Hiring Guide is composed of 2 principles & 10 rules that provide a simple blueprint to implement ethical hiring in your organization.

What’s essential to realize is adhering to these principles also helps your organization. By being up front and transparent about the details of the role and your organization, you can help candidates opt out of your hiring process if they’re not interested. There is no point stringing a candidate along to the first interview only to tell them ‘By the way, this role is paying 80 000’ and the candidate says ‘I’m already on 100 000’. This is a basic two-way qualification exercise and helps you run a more efficient hiring process.

Also, by running a meritocratic hiring process, you design your process to hire the best person for the role. You don’t waste your time interviewing - or worse hiring - candidates who aren’t the best person for the job. Ethical hiring makes sense for everyone.

Looking to progress towards ethical hiring? Reach out to us here.

Ethical Hiring Principles

There are 2 core principles which define an ethical hiring process:

  • Transparent: hiring processes should be designed to be up front and truthful so candidates can make an informed decision.

Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie

  • Meritocratic: hiring processes should be designed to hire the best person for the job.

The best person gets the gig


Rule 1: Candidates should be provided with the full remuneration details

The candidate’s journey of an organization’s hiring process typically starts with the job ad. Unfortunately, these haven’t changed much in 25 years and often end up being a generic laundry list of technologies and some very vague sounding responsibilities.

The single most important thing that a candidate needs to know before applying is the remuneration. Disclosing this is essential to help them decide if they want to proceed or not.

Note, it’s actually now illegal in several jurisdictions, like New York, to not disclose the salary in the job ad. This is really important, because disclosing salaries helps to level the playing field and close pay gaps.

Before applying, candidates should be given these concrete remuneration details:

  • Base salary
  • Bonus
  • Share options
  • Health insurance
  • And any other benefits

Most critically, these things should be quantified. The answer to ‘How much is the base salary?’ is not ‘Negotiable’ or ‘Competitive’, it’s an actual number, or at minimum, a range.

Likewise, for share options, the monetary value should be included, not just the number of options. The number of options, by itself, doesn’t tell the candidate anything about their actual value.

Most job ad platforms have a dedicated salary field as either a single number or a range - this will help candidates who search based on salary ranges, which most do. We’d recommend using this and also including the salary at the top of the job description too.

Rule 2: The hiring process should be disclosed up front

A lot of organizations seem to make the hiring process up as they go along. Not only does this lead to a meandering, costly and inaccurate hiring process, it’s also super annoying for candidates. When candidates have been told ‘this is the final interview’ and then they get another invitation for the ‘the real final interview’ it’s just wasting their time.

Candidates complete hiring processes for free, it should be emaphasized, and time is money. Longwinded hiring processes are also heavily biased against candidates, such as single mothers, who don’t have ample free time to jump through all the hoops that companies have set.

By locking in the hiring process from the get-go, you also remove the temptation to shift the goalposts to just pick your favourite candidate, rather than hiring the best person for the job.

The following should be disclosed to candidates up front:

  • What is each step of the hiring process?
  • Why is this step included/what value does it add?
  • What’s the commitment required (time, travel, money) from the candidate per step?
  • Where will each step take place?
  • When will each step take place?
  • How many other candidates are involved at each step?
  • How will the candidate be evaluated at each step?
  • What feedback does a candidate get at each step?

Again, by setting out these basic details, you manage expectations with the candidate which helps you and them alike.

With Alooba Assess, your role’s landing page can include this information, including a video from the hiring manager or talent team. Video is a great way to engage candidates in your hiring process.

Rule 3: The working conditions should be disclosed

The world of work has dramatically changed in the last few years since the Covid pandemic. With remote work now normalized, the vast majority of candidates expect to be able to work from home at least some of the time.

We see a lot of organizations mis-selling the true reality of the working conditions. Vagaries like ‘Work from almost anywhere’ mean nothing, and normally, when you dig a little deeper, it’s more like ‘Work from any office that your boss works in.’

For many candidates now, working from home is an absolute non-negotiable, so job ads should include these details very clearly so candidates can actively disqualify themselves from the hiring process that’s going nowhere.

At Alooba, for example, our team can work anywhere in the world they want, provided they have an internet connection. No other caveats. We make this clear in our job ads when hiring.

Rule 4: The organization’s financial health should be disclosed

People make all sorts of changes to their lives to start a new role. Moving countries, splitting up with partners and sometimes not seeing their children. It’s a big life move, and people need to understand the risks that they’re taking on.

We’ve seen in recent years the sudden collapse of some companies, especially in tech. These disasters like and Metigy, seemingly run into the ground by greed, stupidity and hubris of its owners pose a real risk for employees. We say sudden, they were sudden collapses from the employees’ perspective, but obviously not from the owners and senior leadership. These companies had live roles on LinkedIn the day they went bust, actively recruiting people into the mess collapsing around them.

To give candidates the chance to make an informed decision, the basic financial health of the company should be actively disclosed to candidates during the hiring process.

At Alooba, for example, our bank balance, revenue & runway are all shared with our team in a Google Sheet.

Rule 5: The job’s responsibilities and tasks should be accurately described

Companies often try to pull the old bait and switch, especially when it comes to roles in analytics. Seasoned data scientists can see a basic reporting role masquerading as a data scientist role from a mile away.

At minimum, these should be accurately described:

  • Each core responsibility of the role, with a realistic percentage weighting
  • The current (actual) technology stack in place
  • Who the role reports to
  • Who the teammates are
  • What the team is responsible for
  • Where the team sits in the business
  • What problems the team is responsible for solving
  • How performance will be measured

There needs to be a strong commitment from companies to not oversell a role, leading candidates down a garden path. Again, this is actually to the benefit of companies, given candidates who start a role that doesn’t meet their expectations will simply quit and find a better role, especially in this competitive hiring landscape. Hiring is super expensive, so you want to avoid needing to replace candidates.

With Alooba Assess, your role’s landing page can include this information, including a video from the hiring manager or talent team. Video is a great way to engage candidates in your hiring process and explain things that are hard to convey in writing.

Rule 6: Candidates should be given actionable, timely feedback after each stage

Ghosting, for some reason, is a completely normal thing for companies to do to candidates. This is the single biggest complaint that candidates make about the hiring process. This lack of feedback, especially when candidates have committed significant time to the hiring process, shows a real lack of empathy, maturity and foresight from companies.

Nothing damages an employer brand (or company brand in general), than burning people unfairly. Every candidate, after every stage, should be given actionable, meaningful feedback. This gives the candidate the opportunity to improve themselves for next time. Again, this is actually in the best interests of companies - candidates who have already applied to your role have shown some engagement with your company, which you should savior to get them next time around.

With Alooba Assess, you can guarantee every candidate gets meaningful, actionable feedback, delivered automatically.


Rule 7: Hiring decisions should be based on objective facts

Part of the reason why traditional hiring is so routinely unfair to candidates is that it all centres on gut-feel, intuitive decisions. This happens at almost every stage of the traditional hiring process, from manual CV screening, to unstructured interviews to the utterly pointless reference check stage.

Hiring decisions should be based on objective, measurable facts, like a candidate’s technical skills, soft skills, their relevant experience and their intelligence. The candidate that gets hired should be the one who scores best across those dimensions.

With Alooba Assess, you can measure a candidate’s technical skills. With Alooba Interview, you can measure essential softer skills like communication. At Alooba, we hire the person who scored the highest overall across all dimensions.

Rule 8: Hiring processes should be structured and pre-defined

By pre-defining your hiring process, you not only give yourself the best chance of finding the best person for the job, you also give yourself the opportunity to run a transparent and fair hiring process. A little bit of forethought goes a long way. By starting with defining your hiring goals or who you want to hire and why, this will give you a clear idea how your hiring process should then be structured to meet these goals.

With this pre-defined hiring process, you’ll avoid the classic ‘moving the goalposts’ problem of traditional hiring. When this starts to happen, you’ll fall into the trap of relying on your gut feel and intuition, rather than objective, measurable facts. Pre-defining these steps also lets you run a transparent hiring process, as you can openly share this information with the candidate.

You should determine the following up front:

  • Who are you looking to hire and why?
  • What will be their responsibilities?
  • Which skills do they need to have?
  • What experience do they need to have?
  • What is each step of the hiring process?
  • Why is this step included/what value does it add?
  • What’s the commitment required (time, travel, money) from the candidate per step?
  • Where will each step take place?
  • When will each step take place?
  • How will the candidate be evaluated at each step? What is the scoring rubric?
  • On what basis will you decide who is hired?
  • What feedback does a candidate get at each step?

At Alooba, before we hire anyone we map out who we want to hire and why. This then gives us a clear picture of which steps we need in the hiring process and why.

Rule 9: Biases should be actively removed from the hiring process

Transitioning from traditional hiring to ethical hiring takes conscious effort. Traditional hiring processes are littered with systemic biases which prevent you hiring the best candidate for the role. Two critical steps in hiring are screening and interviewing.

As a starting point, replacing manual CV screening with skills-based screening eliminates more than 10 critical biases, currently getting between you and hiring the best candidate for the role.

Progressing your interviewing from ad hoc, gut-feel based interviews to a structured interview process, helps to eliminate biases, ensuring you score candidates on a predefined rubric.

With Alooba Assess, you can assess your candidates’ technical skills. With Alooba Interview, you can measure your candidates’ soft skills.

Rule 10: Everyone involved in the hiring process should acknowledge their biases

Cognitive biases are now reasonably well understood. The 2011 bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman did a great job of summarizing the last 40 years of research into these topics. There shouldn’t really be any excuse for ignorance about how these biases negatively impact our decision making, especially when it comes to something as important as hiring.

It’s important that each person involved in the hiring process is on the same page, and actively acknowledges their biases.

While this will help, it’s really the structural changes above that are going to have the biggest impact on your transition to ethical hiring.

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