The Best Greenhouse Alternatives for Inclusive Hiring

Published by:
Andy Babbage
February 1, 2023
min read

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This article discusses the importance of building a recruiting process that promotes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and how HR recruitment software tools can help to implement this powerful hiring approach.

Greenhouse software is compared to other recruiting platforms and the relative merits of their DEI features is discussed for each. Ultimately, DEI is so necessary to businesses and with hiring being one of the main ways to make impact, we recommend that you implement a hiring process that has DEI at its core, rather than just as a plug-in or set of surface-level features.

The importance of building an inclusive hiring process to build high-performing, diverse teams

DEI is a business imperative that is fast going from a differentiator or source of competitive advantage for the world’s most innovative companies to a must-have or a prerequisite for building a successful company today. Diverse teams have been shown to be more innovative, less prone to group think and better at working on complex, abstract tasks than homogenous teams.

One of the key ways that you can improve DEI outcomes is to take a close look at your hiring process and ensure that it is fair, inclusive and removes as much bias as possible. For example, a traditional recruitment process that uses a CV/resume review to screen candidates is prone to affinity and stereotype bias, such that something as simple as someone’s name can stop them from getting through to an interview (here is a link to over 100 studies!).

The good news is that there are lots of research-proven methods that can be used in your recruitment to promote inclusiveness and increase the diversity of your talent pool. Most modern talent acquisition suites have some of these features built-in to their recruiting platform, however, some systems are built with DEI in mind, whereas for others it is more of an afterthought or window dressing.

There is no plug-in for solving DEI issues

Real and valuable progress on DEI for an organisation is hugely valuable, but it also requires real change and for people to start doing things differently. These complex issues will not be unpicked by a plug-in and if any software promises to solve all of your problems with a simple easy feature, then it is probably too good to be true.

What to look for:

To promote DEI, we recommend that your hiring process implements these high-level design or philosophical choices:

  • Remove as much unconscious bias from the process as possible. Bias introduces noise into decision-making, so the more you remove it, the better and fairer your decisions.
  • Focus on assessments that are predictive of performance. Don’t just do what everyone else does, understand the relative merits of each type of assessment and implement the best, most inclusive ones.
  • Take a multi-layered approach to assessments (don’t over-rely on just one), so that you can account for the pros and cons for each stage throughout your funnel.
  • Pay close attention to the candidate journey and remove unnecessary steps, de-stress interviews and value the candidates’ time.
  • Opt for transparency by giving feedback on candidate applications and receiving their feedback on your process.
  • Be very careful of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in people decisions. It may seem like a great time saver, but it can amplify bias and the jury is out on its effectiveness in these applications.
  • Measure to see if your process is improving and then continuously improve from there.

The above tenants are usually implemented by the following features. Note that many of these features need to be implemented together to have an impact. Individually they can make it look like you are doing something, but the outcomes won’t be there:

  • Alternatives to CV/resume reviews as a first step in a process.
  • Removal of bias by anonymising applications (also known as blinding).
  • Define key decision criteria and skills required to do a job up-front.
  • Assessment and interview library that focuses on the most predictive assessments.
  • Marking rubrics for assessment and interview questions.
  • Structured interviews with standardised questions for each interviewee.
  • As standard, having multiple reviewers or interviewers for each round.
  • Job description readability, gender coding and accessibility analytics.
  • Collection and monitoring of aggregate demographic and equal opportunity information throughout the full hiring process.
  • Careers page that showcases your company’s unique culture.
  • Breakdown by demographic of which recruitment channels or job listings candidates are coming from.

Features to be sceptical of:

  • AI can sound great, but is usually black box (which means the candidate doesn’t know how it works) and is often trained on data from human decisions (which contains our biases) which can amplify the effects of bias.
  • Photos or LinkedIn scrapers are problematic, as you shouldn’t need to know what someone looks like for most jobs. Seeing someone’s photo during the hiring process will unlock unconscious biases.
  • Assessing for ‘culture fit’ can be a red flag, as this can often mean ‘are they like me’. We recommend that you assess for ‘values fit’ or ‘culture add’, to ensure that you find people who share your organisation’s values, but bring different perspectives and experiences.
  • ‘Blinding’ applications on its own and not implementing any other techniques will have low impact (in fact, many people consider the use of the phrase ‘blinding’ in this context to be ableist, hence why we prefer the term ‘anonymising’).

Greenhouse overview

Greenhouse software is a popular applicant tracking system with a comprehensive set of features that also includes onboarding. It has several DEI features and showcases the power of this hiring approach on its website. Given the importance of DEI, are these features enough and what are you trading off when using Greenhouse?

Greenhouse screenshot


Here’s what it gets right

Here are some of the DEI features that Greenhouse has:

  • Mitigation of biases by anonymising assessments.
  • Consistent evaluation of candidates by defining requirements up-front and requiring assessor skill rating explanations.
  • Demographic question sets for applicants, which is then used to monitor pass-through rates by demographic throughout the hiring funnel.
  • Candidate feedback surveys.
  • Candidate name pronunciation recordings.
  • Customisable career pages to share company culture and values.

Here’s why you might want to consider alternatives

Here are some of the things you might like to consider when looking at some of these features and their relative merits and drawbacks:

  • Nudges are used to remind people not to be biased during the hiring process. The effectiveness of this method is debated. Once you have seen a photo or a name, it is very hard to close pandora's box of unconscious biases. Telling people to do better in the moment is not as effective as consciously designing bias out of a process. This is why things like unconscious bias training are not effective at changing people’s behaviour.
  • Take-home assignments are available and can be a predictive way of assessing candidates, however employers should be aware of the burden they are putting on candidates’ time. People with caring responsibilities, for example, will have much less time to devote to a take-home assignment. It is also important to pay people if they are spending a significant time or adding value to your business with the assignment.
  • Photos of job candidates on candidate profiles by default throughout the process opens up the process to visual biases. Even if they can be turned off, if they are on by default, most people will go with what they are most used to (i.e. seeing profiles).
  • Flexibility around which roles use DEI features can be useful, however if they are easy to turn off or bypass, then most people will take this path of least resistance and go back to recruiting using a traditional, low predictivity process.

Greenhouse has some good DEI features, but they are far from the core of the platform. Take a look at these potential alternatives and their take on how to tackle this complex problem:

1. Teamtailor

Teamtailor is an applicant tracking system that focuses on employer branding and the candidate journey. This focus on the candidate is promising, as putting them first naturally creates an inclusive experience and journey.


Here’s what it gets right

Here are some of the DEI features that Teamtailor has:

  • Customisable no-code career sites optimised for candidates, showcasing company culture.
  • Candidate NPS to receive feedback on your hiring process and reports on candidate experience.
  • Ability to run processes without requiring applicants’ CV/resumes
  • Scorecards when assessing candidates
  • Ability to remove personal information from the candidate card, replacing names with animal names and avatars.
  • Interview kits which includes structured questions and marking rubrics.

Here’s why you might want to consider alternatives

Here’s what we’d like to see more of to give a fuller DEI impact:

  • Anonymising by default, with only a few exceptions showing candidate names and photos.
  • More focus on using predictive assessments over traditional recruitment processes.
  • Equal opportunity data collection and funnels throughout the process.
  • Sourcing reports based on demographics
  • There is some AI around flagging the ‘top candidates’ up-front and the potential to take automatic actions with these candidates. It’s unclear how the top candidates are determined and can create an unfair halo effect around these flagged candidates.

Teamtailor is built with employer branding at its core, which is hugely valuable but is just one of the things to get right for DEI impact. At the time of writing, DEI was not featured on their website as a key outcome of their platform. If DEI is imperative for your organisation, then we recommend you consider more platforms with DEI at its core.

2. Vervoe

Vervoe allows for assessment creation specifically tailored to the requirements of the role and also provides a library of skills assessment packs pre-built for different roles, skills and technical knowledge. AI can then be used to automatically assess the candidate responses to these assessments. It can integrate with other applicant tracking systems and act as a stage within a broader recruitment process.

Vervoe screenshot


Here’s what it gets right

  • Vervoe’s approach of assessments tailored to the roles is good, as this approach is in line with using much more predictive methods for hiring, rather than just the ones we are used to.
  • Using something like Vervoe as the first step in a hiring process, instead of CV/resumes, would cut down on unconscious biases creeping in at this stage, and allow the candidates to showcase their actual ability to do the jobs, rather than just looking at ‘qualified candidates’.

Here’s why you might want to consider alternatives

Ultimately, the main benefit of using AI for people decisions is to save time. Something that can be very valuable if your hiring volumes are large. However, claims that AI used in this manner are DEI friendly are not supported by the research.

  • AI is usually trained on data sets from actual hiring applications. As we know, humans are inherently biased, therefore the effects of bias will be embedded in that hiring decision data. Training AI on this data perpetuates these biases and sometimes exacerbates the problem. The ideal training data set would be one that has already had bias mitigated within it.
  • AI is usually ‘black box’ so it’s not clear how it works. Is it fair to subject candidates and the hard work they put into your application to a method of assessment that is not transparent?
  • There is a lack of research as to if AI used in this way is effective and leads to better outcomes. It can sound enticing, but the actual peer-reviewed literature is lacking.

Also, we recommend a multi-layered approach to your hiring process. So if you do decide to go with a single-stage assessment, keep in mind that it will just be one piece of the puzzle when looking for DEI impact.

3. Bryq

Bryq is an AI talent intelligence solution that spans talent acquisition, matching, development and insights. For talent acquisition, it uses AI to assess basic cognitive skills and personality traits.


Here’s what it gets right

Here are some of the DEI features that Bryq has:

  • Data-driven intelligence, rather than driven by subjective, traditional hiring habits
  • Anonymisation of applications to remove bias, but also promote fairness for internal employees
  • Customised interview guides for structured interviews
  • Focuses on looking for ‘culture add’ over ‘culture fit’

Here’s why you might want to consider alternatives

Again, AI is used as one of the primary methods to save your hiring teams’ time. As covered in the previous section, there is lots of debate over the effectiveness of this method and also its fairness when used for people decisions.

There are also some things to consider when using cognitive or personality trait assessments:

  • A multi-layered approach to recruitment is recommended, to account for the pros and cons of each assessment type. So a solution like this would need to be just one piece of the puzzle for solving these complex DEI challenges.
  • Cognitive assessments can be good predictors of performance, however they can be harmful to diversity, as shown in the chart below.
Numerical reasoning test pass rates by gender (chart)
  • The relevance of psychometric and personality tests regarding how someone will perform on a job, or add to a culture is debated.

Assessments such as these can be a valuable tool to cut down on high candidate volumes and are more generally (depending on the exact type of assessment) more predictive than a CV/resume sift. However, they come with a potential trade-off on relevance to the role and impact on diversity of the talent pool. They are only one step that you would need to build a fully inclusive hiring process.

4. Applied

Applied is the go-to recruitment platform for inclusive organisations. The Applied hiring system uses behavioural and data science to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process and massively improve the ability to predict a great hire. It is built from the ground up with quality of hire and diverse talent pools in mind, providing the complete suite of software required to do inclusive hiring.

Here’s what it gets right

Applied was designed to be an inclusive platform from the start, therefore it has a rich host of research-proven features that complement one another to produce great DEI and quality-of-hire outcomes:

  • A focus on fairer, more predictive assessment methods, rather than a traditional CV/resume sift that is open to bias.
  • Testing for skills over credentials or brand names on CV/resumes.
  • Predictive, diversity-friendly cognitive assessments for high-volume roles.
  • A hiring process that has been designed to prevent bias from creeping in the first place, rather than trying to correct for it once it is rampant.
  • Using behavioural science methods to remove bias, such as anonymisation, chunking, randomisation and harnessing the wisdom of the crowds.
  • An extensive library of highly predictive work sample and situational judgement questions, with clear marking rubrics.
  • Job description analysis, highlighting and offering alternatives for gendered wording and high reading burden.
  • Demographic and equal opportunity monitoring throughout the funnel and sourcing reports to understand where your great candidates are coming from.
  • Structured interviews with a question library, self-booking for interviews and designed to reduce group think.
  • Frictionless and inclusive candidate flow, designed to reduce stress and get the best out of each candidate.
  • Personalised, automated feedback to every candidate on the platform.

Improving an organisation’s DEI challenges is a difficult, complex task that requires real change, however the rewards are great. Making your recruitment process more inclusive is one of the main ways to make a real impact, and software tools can help to implement this. However, ensure that the software you choose has DEI at its core, rather than a set of disparate features. Hopefully the philosophy and feature checklist in this article will help to demystify what works and what is window dressing - happy hiring!

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