Imagine for a moment that you’re the person responsible for looking at some job applications. You’ve got to pick some to invite into the interview process. If you’ve already applied the ATS software (Applicant Tracking System), the reduced pile in front of you already meet your stated qualifications. In other words, the key words you and Human Resources identified as must haves and preferences are already checked off. You’ve got a nice pile of winners here.
So having a pile of 10 before you on your right and 60 the ATS passed over on your left, you begin. Hang on a second, what are you looking for? If you’ve never had to actually go through this process of choosing people to interview, it’s not as easy as it sounds. If after all, each of these 10 applications have already surfaced as the cream of the crop, why not just interview the 4 or 5 on the top of the pile; random selection?
Well, I’m sure some employers do. I mean, it’s possible isn’t it? No one has to know what the person narrowing these candidates down actually did to select them. But for the majority of situations, what does that person do behind closed doors to pick their next potential employee?
Quick question before proceeding; how many readers don’t like the idea of some computer-generated software creating these two piles in the first place; the potential winners and the losers? I’ll bet a fair number of people would rather a human being look over their application rather than having their potential employment governed by a digital scan.
Here’s the thing about that software though; it’s programmed by humans to select the applications which on paper at least, most closely match the stated needs of the employer. That software selects and rejects solely based on what it was instructed to look for. If you didn’t know this technology existed before, you do now. Oh, and it’s not so expensive that only the big organizations can afford it. Like a lot of technology out there today, its come down in price, it’s affordable and it sure helps the employer when the alternative is having to set aside a huge amount of time going through more resumes and cover letters than they’ve ever received in the past.
Okay, so now the impartial and unbiased computer program has put these 10 applications before you. The next phase is choosing from the 10, the ones you’ll meet and make your interview list from. Most organizations set aside time for this process, and they might have to coordinate the schedules of the Supervisor, Human Resources staff, and a second person in Management. Just coordinating the schedules of these three people might take some doing, and they’ll need a couple of days perhaps to clear their schedules. Meanwhile applicants are waiting.
So whether it’s just you or you and one or two others, you’ve got these 10 from which to choose 5 to interview, as this is all time allows. So half of these will move on and half will join the larger pile of passed over/rejected applicants. By the way, no one in that pile will be contacted yet (if ever) to advise them they’ve been passed over. After all, you might end up going back to at least one of those who almost made it if none of these 5 you end up interviewing work out.
So now that human eyeballs are finally involved in the interview selection process, you and I need to understand one other thing. In addition to your eyes, you’re filtering these 10 resumes with some other things too. You’re applying your biases, preferences, assumptions, stereotypes, past experiences, gut feelings and knowledge. Still don’t like computer software? It doesn’t bring any of these to the selection process.
In the mind of the person selecting people to hire, they know the chemistry of the existing team this potential employee is going to join or lead. They have in their mind the personal characteristics they see as needed or desired. They might have a preference for someone who went to a particular school or who worked for a certain employer in the past. They might grimace at an incorrectly placed comma or run-on sentence. Then again, they may overlook grammatic errors and take that as a sign of authenticity, especially if the job doesn’t call for written communication skills as a top priority.
If the names are on the resumes before them, (some companies remove these from the applications so they eliminate human bias), these alone can potentially sway a person to choose or pass by an application. The presumption of gender too might be present. Is this a good thing or not? Perhaps an organization is intentionally hopeful they might hire someone from a specific segment of the population to better reflect the communities in which they operate. How could a gender, ethnic, age, or other characteristic dominated workforce become more balanced if such factors of applicants remain unknown?
You see it’s more complicated than just randomly picking a few or going through every single application received. This process takes time and expertise to do it well. While all this is going on, each applicant is wondering why they haven’t heard from the employer. What’s taking so long you might wonder?
After selecting those to interview and conducting those interviews, more narrowing done happens until one is remaining. May that person be you!