We’ve previously touched on whether it is possible to eliminate unconscious bias from in-person job interviews and whether the answer to that question lies in giving interviews more structure or conducting them through some kind of virtual interface that conceals a candidate’s appearance, voice, or other identifiers that could trigger a hiring manager’s unconscious biases. Well, at Fast Company recently, Lydia Dishman took a look at a platform currently in development that promises to turn the dream of real-time anonymous interviews into a (virtual) reality:
Interviewing.io started as a platform that would allow tech professionals to take on a coding challenge with an interviewer, as if they were working on a virtual whiteboard. The interviewee’s name and other identifying information was taken out. At first, [cofounder Aline] Lerner says, everyone was given superhero names, but that quickly became problematic. “Not only would we have run into copyright issues,” she explains, “But most end in ‘man’, and that’s not what we are trying to do.”
Gender neutral animal names are now given to both the interviewer and the interviewee. And while the two can exchange comments via the interactive text feature on the platform, there is also an option to chat using a voice feature. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Lerner explains that Interviewing.io uses both Twilio cloud communications technology for the call and their own proprietary voice software. The latter has the capability to make men sound like women or vice versa, or to make either gender sound androgynous. “We let companies choose what they want,” she notes, adding “Generally we haven’t found any trend as to which is better.” Lerner says that when modulating men’s voices, “We add synthetic elements, so you don’t know if it’s a woman, or if it is a man whose voice is processed.”
Another strategy some employers are using a means of controlling for hiring biases is to replace the traditional interview process with a skills test, selecting candidates directly on the basis of their proven ability to do the job. These assessments, which impart several advantages, are increasingly popular in the tech sector for hiring software engineers, whose hard skills often outshine their “on paper” credentials. This week, Dishman profiles another platform, TripleByte, which “doesn’t ask for resumes; instead it puts candidates through a two-part technical evaluation before matching them with potential employers”:
TripleByte first conducted a programming test with over 10,000 engineers. About half of them made it through to the next phase—a technical interview where candidates were asked about data structures, algorithms, etc. and how they would use those tools to solve problems. From those interviews, Taggar says they were able to identify seven specific attributes that companies are most interested in when hiring engineers. …
The focus on skills and the absence of resumes works to remove any unconscious biases hiring managers may be harboring against women and minorities, or those who aren’t armed with a computer science degree from the top-tier universities like Stanford or MIT. Once the candidate has completed the technical interviews, TripleByte offers them feedback and works with them to put together a list of five companies that would be a good match for them. … At this point, the candidate has been vetted and has demonstrated that they have the skills the company is looking for regardless of gender, ethnicity, or educational and employment background.