When it comes to recruiting, we all know the rules on discriminating against gender, race, cultural background, etc. But are there other, perhaps less obvious, ways in which you can discriminate against candidates? And could these micro-discriminations be causing you to create a homogenous corporate culture where everyone looks – and perhaps most dangerously, thinks alike?
Below, we outline four of these micro-discriminations that most frequently occur when looking to fill entry-level spots and what you can do to avoid them:
Certain schools carry with them a certain cache. If you’re picking candidates from the Ivy Leagues, you expect your candidate to be among the best and the brightest. However, when the admissions counselor selected them for Harvard, bear in mind that they were the best and the brightest…among a cohort of 18-year-olds and that a lot can change over their four years of schooling and in the years since! Of more concern, however, is that if you’re always dipping into the talent pools of a certain group of schools even if they aren’t necessarily the Ivy’s you’re still getting a similar type of candidate and may be inadvertently discriminating based on the grounds of race, religion or culture because the school does. Instead, put school selection on the backburner and look for those job applicants that stand out for their skills and experience.
Grading the grades:
Similar to the above noted foible with school selection, discriminating against candidates based on grade point average can also lead to problems in your company. Unless you are hiring them to work in a lab, a candidate’s C-minus grade in organic chemistry 10 years ago likely has no bearing on how they will perform on the job. Further, studies show that minorities typically have lower GPAs, not because of any deficit in intellect, but because they typically have to work to help pay for school, which diverts their time away from their school work and gives their non-employed peers an advantage. Therefore, if a candidate comes forward who has a less than stellar GPA, ask them why they struggled academically and ask them what changes they have put in place in the months or years since to ensure their corporate success.
Internships are a wonderful way to gain experience and, for some candidates, can be a great way to get their foot in the door. But at their very core, internships especially of the unpaid variety, are very much a summer activity of privilege. As we touched on above, most folks of color use those long months off school to work non-stop and build up a buffer to help take the edge of those tuition payments in the fall, so internships typically go to those from more affluent backgrounds. Further, if you are always looking for folks who have held internships, you’re again relying on THEIR human resources department to do YOUR employee selections! Instead, look for candidates that held any type of summer job and during the interview ask them what they learned from these experiences – even if they are totally unrelated to the work that you do, you might find that juggling lifeguarding duties at the pool with evenings as an uber driver taught them responsibility, time management, and multi-tasking, all which are important no matter the role.
When you aren’t sure if you’ve found the right person for the job, it seems like a sensible move to give them a test to let them show off their skills. Indeed, this can be an effective tool, especially if the job you are hiring for requires a very specific knowledge base, but if it’s the only criteria you use as the basis for your decision, it can discriminate against certain groups. You see, many wealthier universities spend a lot of time and effort getting their students up to snuff on standardized tests, meaning that those students will typically perform better than those who went to schools that placed less of an emphasis on these exams. As we touched on above, feel free to use it as a tool, but do not make it the only thing – or the most important thing – that guides your hiring decision.