We needed to hire a new employee. Instead of doing the interview process the traditional way, we decided to try and experiment - something different.
In a perfect world, when an organization has an open position, they advertise the opportunity on job boards and through LinkedIn. Then they accept resumes and cover letters from interested applicants. Next, a hiring manager reviews the submissions and then narrows them down based on their previous experience and potential. The candidate is then screened during a phone call and then brought in for the first interview.
But the world isn't so perfect. A candidate is sometimes judged by her/his name which might lead a hiring manager to assume that person's gender or race. They might be able to put two and two together to get a ballpark figure of a person's age based on her/his work history or college graduation date.
What if there was a way to evaluate a job candidate based on tests of her/his knowledge or skills? What if they were given a project and judged solely on the finished product?
We advertised our open position in a few different places and waited for responses. After receiving nearly 100 inquiries from interested candidates, we sent an email to all of them asking each to register in our system and complete the application inside. Our application consisted of several questions that asked for text based answers and one optional item that invited participants to upload a video of themselves talking about why we should hire them. Our questions asked participants to express their knowledge of our company. Additionally, we asked about how their past experiences and how they were applicable to the open position. We also asked a question requiring candidates to demonstrate their creativity.
Of the initial inquiries about half registered in our system. Of those, about half completed and submitted our form. We looked at it this way, if a candidate couldn't be bothered or didn't have time to register and submit our simple form, they were out.
Strangely, or maybe not so strange, none of the applicants uploaded the optional video.
Next, things on our end got more interesting. Before the application portal was opened, we set the system to hide the identities of the applicants. We didn't know their names, genders, work history or where they attended school. We had no resumes to review.
We created a set of evaluation criteria that took into consideration concepts like professionalism, self expression, job fit and creativity. Each member of our team separately evaluated the applications based on the criteria, scoring each on a scale between 1 and 100. We also added personal comments.
After scoring, we collectively ranked the entries and then unveiled the names and resumes of the applicants. It was only then did we begin to see the identities of the contenders. We invited the top five candidates in for traditional interviews. Of the five, three were female. Of the five, one candidate was Hispanic, one was Asian, and one was African-American.
In the end, we hired, Melody King, and we couldn't be happier with our choice.
This experiment has encouraged us to challenge other organizations to try something similar. Maybe then we'll start to see even more diversity in the workplace.