6 Best HR Recruitment Software for Diversity-Driven Hiring

Published by:
Joe Caccavale
May 31, 2023
min read

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If you're looking for recruitment software, you'll find vendors competing to do three jobs:

  • Centralise and automate the legwork out of hiring.
  • Source better candidates, and get better employees into the company.
  • Get a diverse range of candidates across the pipeline.

So everyone's claiming to do the same things, but you have to ask:

  • Do they have the numbers to show for it?
  • Do hiring managers really find this makes their job easier?
  • Do candidates have a good experience that reflects well on the company?
  • Are they really committed to reducing bias and improving diversity across the hiring pipeline?

So let's cover six of the recruitment software solutions that are marketing themselves on diversity, and see how they stack up.

What should you be looking for in recruitment software?

At this point, you'd be hard pressed to find recruitment software that doesn't mention DEI somewhere in their marketing. But if you're determined to see real results, what are the features you should be looking for? What works?

Anonymous applications

Even with the best intentions, unconscious bias can creep into the most important decisions we make. We do much of our everyday thinking "on autopilot": what we're going to wear today, at what point to cross a busy road, etc. And this is where biases like Affinity Bias, Confirmation Bias, and the Halo Effect play a useful role: they're shortcuts for our busy brains.

You know you should be making hiring decisions much more carefully. But when you have an afternoon to screen hundreds of CVs, are you sure you're not going to start making some snap judgements?

Studies show that candidates from ethnic minorities, whose names don't "sound white", have to send out more CVs to get a callback than candidates with "white-sounding" names. If you change the name and nothing else on the CV, the CV can be up to 70% more likely to pass the screening stage.

So we think anonymous applications are non-negotiable. Your recruitment software must include some kind of anonymisation feature, even if it's just hiding basic information like the candidate's…

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Address
  • Date of birth

If each person looking at applicants makes a "shortcut" 1% of the time, you could be missing out on tens of strong candidates who you don't get to interview later. We think this is table-stakes, which is why we go several steps further on anonymisation.

Predictive assessments

At the screening stage, the question you're trying to answer is "how likely is this candidate to excel in this role?" It's not an easy question when you have to review hundreds of CVs. So lots of recruitment software solutions will try to predict a candidate's prospects before screening with some algorithmic criteria.

But we have the data on what accurately predicts job performance, and you won't find it in a CV. Education and experience have actually turned out to be the weakest predictors of job performance, despite countless job adverts demanding certain arbitrary thresholds of experience. (Knowing nothing else about them, is a candidate with 5 years' experience really 20% more qualified than one with 4?)

The Schmidt-Hunter meta-analysis finds that the best predictors of job success are cognitive and skills-based assessment like work sample questions. If you want your screening process to be as predictive as possible, you're looking for an ATS that includes these.

Predictive validity of assessment methods (chart)

Inclusive job descriptions

You could spend hours crafting the perfect job description for important roles. The average candidate will then spend 14 seconds glancing around your advert before making a snap decision about whether it's worth applying. In many cases, they're mistaken.

  • You might have decided to hype up an exciting role with words like "superior", "decisive", "rockstar", which will also deter some female candidates. On the other hand, words like "caring", "supportive", "empathetic" might signal you're expecting to hire a woman for the role .
  • Some of your strongest candidates will be the ones who bring new experiences and knowledge into the company. Excessive acronyms, abbreviations, and other bits of industry jargon will put off candidates who would be moving into a new field from their previous role. (Maybe the ideal candidate for your customer success role had spent their whole career in B2B sales, for example.)
  • In general, complex language and sentence structure will put off many candidates. Clear and concise sentences will get the message across.

It's why many recruitment software solutions try to help you out with a library of pre-written job descriptions for you to take off the shelf. We often see these job descriptions marketed as gender-inclusive, which is great, but how responsive is that to candidates' changing needs? And can a generic job description capture what you need from your dream candidate?

Other solutions will use a tool to help you improve your job description as you write it. As well as highlighting issues like jargon and gendered language, they help you write a clear and engaging job ad that'll keep your ideal hire reading till the end.

Diversity reporting

Recruitment software promises to improve diversity across your hiring pipeline from sourcing, to screening, to the interview. But that means nothing unless you can track DEI metrics at every stage.

The best recruitment software will give you a step-by-step breakdown of  how diverse your hiring pipeline is. For example, you might find that overall diversity drops off after the first round of screening questions. This will let you zoom in on those particular questions and figure out what could be putting certain candidates off.

What should you avoid in recruitment software?

We built Applied because we saw that traditional hiring wasn't working. Many recruitment software offerings fail to recognise and change that, or they "innovate" in a way that creates new problems.

If you're relying on this software to make your recruitment funnel more diverse, what are the red flags you should avoid?

Artificial intelligence

With tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney, we entered a new "hype cycle" around AI. Large language models like GPT offer knowledge workers a big opportunity to automate legwork that takes up a lot of their time, while creating little value. Should you hand over your recruitment efforts to AI?

Lots of recruitment software today offers AI tools to speed up parts of the hiring process:

  • CV scanners
  • Sourcing tools
  • Game-like online tests
  • Video interviewing software

But AI recruitment software has made headlines in recent years for all the wrong reasons. In one high-profile case, Amazon had to ditch their AI-based recruitment program after it was found to be biassed against women.

Poor screening

The traditional screening process invites bias at several points. And without specifically addressing it, recruitment software is just going to reproduce that bias at scale.

Issues with screening software include:

  • Job postings being delivered to a skewed audience. (e.g. A supermarket cashier position gets disproportionately advertised to women.)
  • Unconscious bias at the CV screening stage, based on factors like gender, race, age, education.
  • Bias in AI interview analysis, which negatively impacts people with atypical speech patterns (e.g. Deaf people, people with autism.)

Unstructured interviews

When the interview process isn't run through recruitment software, it's usually a somewhat unstructured conversation between one or two interviewers and several candidates. Candidates could be asked completely different questions based on the direction the conversation takes.

This makes interviews more biassed and less predictive; software that doesn't address this stage is missing a trick.

A structured interview process, on the other hand, is shown to be more predictive of candidate success than a free-flowing conversation. In fact, they're one of the two best predictors of whether a candidate is going to succeed in this position.

At minimum, recruitment software should be helping you make your interviews easier and more consistent. But we think a diversity-driven solution has to go further, and specifically include features to de-bias your hiring process.

Lack of data

Quality DEI reporting is an essential aspect of diversity-driven recruitment. Many solutions offer some kind of reporting, but it's not necessarily very detailed and can keep you in a "reactive" position rather than a proactive one. You're trying to fight the losses from employee turnover and prevent bad hires rather than making data-driven hiring decisions from a position of strength.

We see three kinds of hiring processes, roughly based on how mature the company is:

  • Reactive (no metrics, playing by ear)
  • Transactional (tracking time to hire, cost per hire, no. of applicants)
  • Predictive (tracking quality of hires, one-year retention rate, interview/offer rate, DEI metrics)

If a product is just offering "transactional" data, you might outgrow it as your company matures. If recruitment software can get you from stage one to stage three, it could be the long-term solution for you.

We think the diversity-driven approach is also the most predictive one. By reducing bias at every stage of the hiring pipeline, you can make accurate predictions about who's going to be most successful in the role.

6 Best HR recruitment software for diversity-driven hiring

Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid, how do 6 of the most diversity-driven recruitment solutions stack up?


Applied is the only recruitment software designed for diversity from day one. Our story starts with a UK government project to reduce bias in the hiring process, which we've since spun out into an end-to-end solution for advertising your roles, screening candidates, and interviewing your next hires in the fairest way possible.

As we've discussed above, CVs are a huge source of bias. Most diversity-driven hiring tools scrub them of all identifying information before they're usable. In most cases, we just don't use CVs at all.

Instead, we use skills-based assessments and work sample questions which have been proven to be the most accurate way to predict a candidate's success in the role. This prevents mis-hires and prevents homogenous teams that are vulnerable to groupthink. And it allows you to stop scrambling to fill roles and start measuring what you're doing and get progressively better results.

Companies recruiting with Applied see a 4x increase in the ethnic diversity of their candidates. These companies see 3x as many suitable candidates with Applied than they did before, and we find that traditional hiring methods would have passed on 60% of the candidates who are hired through our platform. Those candidates see a 93% retention rate after one year with their employers.

It all starts with your job description, which we'll help you write with suggestions to make it more inclusive. With that and our one-click integrations with leading job boards, Applied will help you get the diverse range of applicants you've been looking for.

Once the assessment answers are in, we anonymise them and divide them among your team for review. Someone will be reviewing all the "Question 1" answers, someone all the "Question 2" answers, and so on, rating each answer 1-5 stars. This means your team can grade answers against each other, and with handy on-screen scorecards they'll know exactly what qualities they should be looking for.

If you've decided you need to see CVs for this role, your reviewers are going into CV screening to answer specific focus questions we provide. This helps them grade CVs somewhat objectively, rather than going with their gut. Either way, it's a big improvement on the traditional screening process.

You can watch candidates move through the process all in one simple dashboard. You can see which candidates scored well on assessments, invite them for interviews, and make the final offer all on one page.

This process generates lots of data on the quality and diversity of your applicants, interviewees, and hires. Applied hits a 9/10 score on candidate experience in part because we give them that data, too. Even if they don't get the job they get objective, actionable information to help them in their next interview.

For recruiters, our reports break down everything you could want to know about your hiring process. One simple dashboard will let you see:

  • Best candidates per source
  • Diversity metrics per source
  • Diversity metrics at each stage of your hiring funnel
  • How much agreement there was on each candidate's scores
  • Which members of your team are best at predicting successful candidates

Having this level of data means you can easily report your DEI metrics to management. But more importantly, it helps you make proactive decisions about diversity in your recruitment process and lets you adjust accordingly.

If you see a drop-off in diversity between screening and interview stages, you can zoom in on those questions and find out if something in the wording is putting candidates off. If you see that you're never hired anyone from a certain job board, you can stop advertising there and double-down on the channels that work for you.

In general, companies that use Applied see more diversity after the first two or three hires. We see that reflected in user reviews. "Applied is helping us to attract, shortlist, and interview a more diverse pool of talent by removing any unconscious bias from the hiring process. We're seeing a wider range of backgrounds in the employees that go on to join our team and find that sift questions are an ideal way to understand how someone might meet the day-to-day requirements of the role." Another mentions that "we are a startup and don't have a recruitment department - this platform has made recruitment easy to manage with a clear step-by-step process. Without this platform we would be losing efficiencies by having to scroll through CVs - where with this product everything is all taken care of for you."


Workable is one of the most recognisable names in this market. They're an end-to-end solution that helps businesses scale up and automate stages like sourcing from job boards, updating your careers page, scheduling interviews, and reporting on your hiring funnel. Many recruitment software solutions are just trying to speed up the traditional CV-based hiring process, but Workable gives you the option to add pre-written assessments like verbal and numerical comprehension.

In terms of diversity, Workable gives you the option to anonymise the screening stage that includes CVs and assessment answers. (This is better than many ATSs, but should be table-stakes at this point.) Workable also offers a library of over 1000 pre-written job descriptions, which have been written to be inclusive and gender-neutral.

If you're not sure what questions to ask at the interview stage, Workable offers suggestions as well as scorecards for you to grade candidates' answers. This will give you a better idea of what you're looking for if you're creating a totally new role within the company, and it adds much-needed structure to your interviews which ensure you're measuring candidates against the same criteria.

Workable is a safe choice with pretty good diversity features, but some of the reviews complain about complicated processes and interface design. One user mentions that the reporting wasn't detailed enough for them, which limited the ROI for their company.


Greenhouse positions itself as an all-in-one solution for businesses of all sizes, covering job postings to onboarding. It scores highly on candidate experience and offers a wide range of diversity features like:

  • DEI reporting from sourcing to interviews
  • Options for anonymised screening
  • Anonymised assessments
  • Allowing candidates to record the correct pronunciation of their name
  • Allowing candidates to list preferred pronouns

Greenhouse also allows for structured interviews and take-home skills assessments. Scorecards help interviewers assess candidates in a fair, consistent way. There's also reporting on DEI metrics across the pipeline, but reviewers complain about the way this works and have had to integrate other products like Lookr to get the most out of it.

Greenhouse also offers timely "nudges" to hiring teams about the importance of diversity in hiring, but we don't think nudging alone is enough in this context. If you want recruitment software that really encourages diversity-driven hiring, you need something that totally overhauls the recruitment process with that in mind.


Recruitee is a collaborative hiring solution that helps internal HR teams work with the rest of the business. Recruitee comes with an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes it a popular choice for recruiters.

Recruitee's "Fair Evaluations" feature allows you to reduce bias at any stage of your pipeline by hiding your team’s evaluations from each other. This avoids reviewers biassing each other, making interviews a bit fairer, but won't go very far towards improving diversity in the long-term.

Recruitee does let you ask some yes/no questions of candidates, but if you want actual assessments, you're going to have to use Recruitee's integrations with tools like TestDome, Bryq, Codility, or Gusto.


SeekOut specifically helps companies find talent from underrepresented groups. By widening the selection of candidates at the "top" of your hiring funnel, recruiters can go some way to improving the diversity of candidates you hire.

From a pool of over 800 million candidates, recruiters can filter for technical skills and subject matter expertise. They can also apply "diversity filters" to those candidates, and they can anonymise applicant details like names, photos, education, and company names.

According to reviews, one issue with SeekOut is that the candidate profiles aren't 100% accurate. Users find that they have to go to good candidates' LinkedIn pages to check what their employment situation really is. They also complain about a steep learning curve: you have to dedicate yourself to learning the ins and outs of the product to get the most value out of it.


Circa's recruitment software analyses job descriptions to eliminate bias before publishing your ad. Circa offers outreach to 169 million potential candidates, 40% of whom are actively searching for a job.

Candidate screening is blind, removing identifiers like ethnicity, gender, education, and age. This forces you to take something of a skills-based assessment, but the platform could go further with cognitive and numerical testing which is predictive of future performance.

According to users, the main draw of Circa is its expansive diversity network. It's also useful to see the change log for jobs postings that have been made, revised, and reposted. However, we also see complaints about the level of DEI reporting, which is essential for building a diversity-driven recruitment process in the long term.

Which recruitment software is best for you?

All of these solutions have different focuses. What’s best for one company might not the right tool for another, depending on where the company is at in its development and what your priorities are.

If you’re looking for…

  • A diversity-driven hiring solution, with the numbers to show for it
  • A candidate experience that turns applicants into advocates
  • Data-backed tools for predicting candidate success
  • An all-in-one solution that makes hiring easier at every stage

…Applied might be the one for you!

Applied is the essential platform for unbiased, predictive HR recruitment software - purpose-built to reduce bias and reliably predict the best talent.

Start transforming your hiring now: book in a demo.