Can Algorithms For Hiring Employees Improve Our Workplaces?


When it comes to getting hired, people always say, “It’s who you know.” More than that, it’s what you have in common. A shared alma mater or mutual friend is often the deal-sealer in job interviews when the recruiter is forced to choose between two equally qualified candidates. But such chummy behavior can sometimes mask hidden prejudices: the fact that two people went to the same school can often reflect their socio-economic similarity.

A recent New York Times article described the emphasis on cultural similarity as latent discrimination. “A cultural fit is an individual whose work-related values and style of work support the business strategy,” according to Lauren Rivera, a researcher at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. “When you get into a lot of the demographic characteristics, you’re not only moving away from that definition but you’re also getting into discrimination.”

Now, with tech companies like Facebook receiving criticism for their lack of diversity (only 31 percent of Facebook’s employees are women, and at 57 percent, most are white), growing tech companies with roles to fill are wondering if algorithms might be able to find the most qualified candidates in a hiring process that seems, at first glance, blind.

How Do They Work?

There are a few different companies offering different algorithms at this time. Gild, for one, scours the web for publicly available job data posted on sites like LinkedIn or GitHub and looks to match skills to the company’s job description, searching beyond what’s listed on a resume. That means that if your hobby is relevant to the job description, but not listed on a resume, you might still appear in search results (if, for example, you’re a barista who writes brilliant code at night). Gild also takes career patterns into account — searching for candidates who are likely ready to jump ship soon, for example, based on how long they’ve been with their current company.

Doxa caters to women in particular who are looking to work at tech companies that will actually appreciate them. In addition to matching skills with company needs, their algorithm uses anonymous employee surveys that describe the nebulous, off-the-page qualities of companies (how often employees work nights and weekends, time spent in meetings, whether there is perceived gender bias) to match candidates with compatible company cultures.

Another service, GapJumpers, allows companies to write questions that applicants answer anonymously. The answers are then ranked based on how well they match the company’s, who is then given a list with the identities of the candidates revealed so they can start scheduling interviews.

How Well Do They Work?

A Harvard Business Review analysis looked at 17 hiring studies that used algorithms and found that they outperformed human recruiting by about 25 percent. The data was based on post-hiring stats, such as the supervisor’s ranking of the hiree after having been at the job for a while, the number of promotions, and how well the employee did during training.

The study noted that without an algorithm, recruiters are 85 to 97 percent likely to rely on intuition when assessing candidates.

“We don’t advocate that you bow out of the decision process altogether,” the researchers concluded. “We do recommend that you use a purely algorithmic system, based on a large number of data points, to narrow the field before calling on human judgment to pick from just a few finalists—say, three. Even better: Have several managers independently weigh in on the final decision, and average their judgments.”

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Creating Championship Performance in Small Business Workplaces


shutterstock_241725058The spring is a great time to be a sports fan in the United States as:

  • March Madness crowns the annual collegiate basketball champion.
  • Professional basketball and hockey leagues start the most interesting segments of their seasons with their extensive 16 team playoff tournaments in the NBA and NHL.
  • All Major League Baseball teams are in first place as April’s Opening Day kicks off the quest to become this year’s World Series Champion.

As the focus moves towards crowing champions in professional sports its perfect time to look inside your small business work environment to assess if your team of employees is performing at a championship caliber.

For small business workplaces to generate championship caliber results their are of five traits the leader of those small businesses should expect from their employees and workplace teams, while also incorporating the same five traits within the overall context of the workplace culture and their own behavior.

Those five traits spell the word C.H.A.M.P.:

C = Commitment: It takes a deep commitment from every team member to consistently perform at the highest level every day to win a championship. Are the employees in your small business committed to achieving that level of success, and is an inspiring “championship game” vision in place to foster that commitment? (What is your small business’ World Series, Super Bowl or Stanley Cup?)

H = Humility: Humility is a trait that is often in short supply in small business work environments. Small business leaders must foster the trait of humility within their company’s culture, and lead with it themselves, so that team members are also open to feedback, always looking for ways to improve. Athletes know they have to get better on the path towards the championship as the competition continues to get tougher every step of the way.

A = Accountability: The only way championship caliber performance is created and maintained is through accountability. Individual team members must be open to being held accountable to their performance and the small business leader must create a culture of accountability with systems in place to make it work.

M = Motivated with High Morale: Championship caliber team members are motivated for all the right reasons that include both personal and team rewards and want to contribute to a high morale team. Championship small business owners understand that rewards for team success must be part of the incentive package for achieving results that take a cohesive group or team effort and have in place processes that maintain high levels of morale.

P = Proactive & Positive: Team members committed to contributing to a championship effort know they must be proactive in fulfilling their role because their role impacts all others on the team, and the group’s ability to achieve desired results. Because they understand that high morale is important, all team members show up with a positive mindset and approach that supports the team’s collective efforts.

Imagine if the employees in your small business brought the five traits of a championship team member to the work environment every day.

Make it an expectation of everyone on your staff, and commit to it yourself to be the role model, and you and your employees will achieve great things together.

If you’d like other tips to transform your company, including my latest white paper report “The Missing Ingredient to Improving Employee Performance” go to

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