Help wanted: Questions to weed out job applicants can be accidentally discriminatory

Help wanted: Questions designed to weed out unsuitable job applicants can turn out to be accidentally discriminatory.

Automatically ruling out people with felony convictions, or setting arbitrary standards on experience, can disenfranchise many workers. Better to look at the applicants as whole people.

But what hiring manager has time to do all that, along with their regular work, particularly when hundreds of people are applying for a single position?

Planet Money looks into it, but doesn’t have any answers:

When you’re an employer looking at a giant stack of resumes, you have to find some way to quickly narrow the field. But how do you do that fairly? And what happens when your good intentions backfire?

In this episode, we bring you a group of stories about hiring. We talk to a female software engineer who’s trying to bring blind hiring to Silicon Valley. She’s come up with a way to mask applicants’ voices during an interview—we hear what it sounds like. And, we look at what happened when the nation’s biggest employer began hiring people who had felony records. It turned out that those employees performed just as well as people with no criminal background—sometimes better. The employer? The United States military.

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