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Are employers fair/biased in the hiring process?

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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Employers/hiring managers can hire anyone they like. They are not accountable to anyone. So, I wonder how fair/biased the hiring process is?

Of course it is difficult to know, because they are not accountable, and they don't provide a rejection letter explaining why they rejected someone. If they talked about it, probably they would make it sound fair and unbiased, but how would you know what actually happened, and influenced their decisions?!

I am saying this because recently I applied to a position that fits perfectly to my background and skills, and I was interested in the position and the job responsibilities and the solutions the company provides, and although I passed the HR interviews, the hiring manager decided not to move forward with my application. At this point I wonder why? I need answers to know what is wrong, and why I cannot find a job, and my applications are being rejected?!!

Of course I cannot reach out to him/her, because that may look aggressive, and besides, probably he/she wouldn't care to reply. I have geographical limitations to find a job. I got some technical interviews in the US in big companies as an R&D, but to get a VISA to go and do the on-site technical interview, I need about 4-5 months!! So, I am not sure if they will wait that long to do the technical interviews.
 
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  • #2
verty
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I am saying this because recently I applied to a position that fits perfectly to my background and skills, and I was interested in the position and the job responsibilities and the solutions the company provides, and although I passed the HR interviews, the hiring manager decided not to move forward with my application. At this point I wonder why? I need answers to know what is wrong, and why I cannot find a job, and my applications are being rejected?!!
My only advice is: give the answer you think they want, not the answer you want to give.
 
  • #3
berkeman
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Employers/hiring managers can hire anyone they like. They are not accountable to anyone.
Not quite true. At least in the US where you applying for jobs, there are laws about discrimination in hiring that get enforced regularly.
although I passed the HR interviews, the hiring manager decided not to move forward with my application.
HR interviews are just used as an initial screening process. The hiring manager(s) will be looking a lot more in depth at resumes to decide which candidates to conduct phone interviews or in-person interviews with. Depending on the number of applicants for a position, they may only decide to go to the next step with a few of the candidates.
Of course I cannot reach out to him/her, because that may look aggressive, and besides, probably he/she wouldn't care to reply
I think it would be helpful if you could find out if there were any issues with your resume/application, or any things you could have done better. Maybe reach out to the HR person you were dealing with, and ask if they can provide any feedback on your application with them. It can just be a polite request for constructive criticism or asking if the other candidates had more experience in some aspect of the job opening.
 
  • #4
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@berkeman For this position they decided I am not a good fit, although they are keep looking for a good candidate by keep advertising the position. So, they didn't compare me to the pool of candidates they have. They just threw my application for some reason. How does the government enforce anti-discrimination in the hiring process? How would they know what is happening behind the doors? I once watched an episode of What Would You Do, a TV show that tries to get people's reactions on some issues (in the US), and in that episode a manager in a restaurant/coffee shop didn't want to hire a Latino, and he confronted him in front of people (of course this was acting to stir reactions from people), until an HR person approached the manager, and told him aside whispering that you just say I will consider you application, while you write a note on the back of the application about the person, and then throw his application afterward. I don't think this is not being done in other scenarios.
 
  • #5
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My only advice is: give the answer you think they want, not the answer you want to give.
What do you mean? Like in the interview questions?
 
  • #6
verty
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What do you mean? Like in the interview questions?
Yes. I was talking about the interview, well any interview really. It's your one chance to show that you are the one. It doesn't help to show that you aren't. So you give them the answers they want.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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Employers have three choices:
  • Hire a candidate who would be effective
  • Hire the best candidate
  • Hire who they like

Further, you might expect that employers avoid hiring a candidate who is difficult to hire, or whom they believe will be troublesome.
 
  • #8
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Yes. I was talking about the interview, well any interview really. It's your one chance to show that you are the one. It doesn't help to show that you aren't. So you give them the answers they want.
For this particular position, I think I did very well, because I have a research experience in the topics they are asking for. Here I passed these behavioral questions, and I was progressed to a more technical side of the interview process. But for some reason, the hiring manager didn't see I am a good fit.
 
  • #9
CrysPhys
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For this position they decided I am not a good fit, although they are keep looking for a good candidate by keep advertising the position. So, they didn't compare me to the pool of candidates they have. They just threw my application for some reason.
You can't come to this conclusion. Perhaps they did initial screening of a first group of candidates (including you), found none suitable (including you), and continued posting. They will also keep posting to cover the scenario in which they make an offer to a suitable candidate, but the candidate does not accept. It could also be the case in which they considered a non-US candidate to cover the scenario in which they did not find a suitable US candidate but were willing to consider a non-US candidate who is exceptionally well qualified [not merely suitable] to justify the hassle and expense of sponsoring a visa [perhaps you met the suitable criteria, but not the exceptionally well qualified criteria].
 
  • #10
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You can't come to this conclusion. Perhaps they did initial screening of a first group of candidates (including you), found none suitable (including you), and continued posting. They will also keep posting to cover the scenario in which they make an offer to a suitable candidate, but the candidate does not accept. It could also be the case in which they considered a non-US candidate to cover the scenario in which they did not find a suitable US candidate but were willing to consider a non-US candidate who is exceptionally well qualified [not merely suitable] to justify the hassle and expense of sponsoring a visa.
You see, all of this is just a speculation. We will never know what actually happened, and why an application was rejected. Only the HR and hiring managers know that. Also this position is in Canada, in the city were I live, so, I wouldn't need sponsorship (or even relocation expenses), if an offer was made.
 
  • #11
CrysPhys
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You see, all of this is just a speculation. We will never know what actually happened, and why an application was rejected. Only the HR and hiring managers know that. Also this position is in Canada, in the city were I live, so, I wouldn't need sponsorship (or even relocation expenses), if an offer was made.
OK. Yes, the only way to find out is if you know someone in the company who can find the inside scoop. In cases in which I referred a candidate to a particular company (that I had personal contacts at), I would follow up to find out what happened if the candidate did not receive an offer.

Otherwise, if there was one or more interviewers that you had particular rapport with, it doesn't hurt to reach out to them to ask for constructive feedback. The worst that can happen is that they don't respond, tell you they can't discuss the issue, or cook up some hokey reason. But you could luck out and get useful info.
 
  • #12
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OK. Yes, the only way to find out is if you know someone in the company who can find the inside scoop. In cases in which I referred a candidate to a particular company (that I had personal contacts at), I would follow up to find out what happened if the candidate did not receive an offer.

Otherwise, if there was one or more interviewers that you had particular rapport with, it doesn't hurt to reach out to them to ask for constructive feedback. The worst that can happen is that they don't respond, tell you they can't discuss the issue, or cook up some hokey reason. But you could luck out and get useful info.
Unfortunately, I don't know who the hiring manager is (I can guess from their profiles on LinkedIn, as this company is a startup company with a two dozen of employees), or any person who can follow up my application inside the company. The best I can do is to email the HR person who sent me the decision, and see what he has to say about this.
 
  • #13
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In reality, if they don't like you they wont hire you, regardless of the law. Unfortunately a lot of positions are staffed internally from a pool of known people they already like. The job listing is to just satisfy some legal requirement.
 
  • #14
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Employers/hiring managers can hire anyone they like. They are not accountable to anyone.
Maybe in some companies that is true, but it certainly isn’t true in my company. It can be very frustrating as a hiring manager to have what you see as a perfectly qualified candidate rejected by others in the organization.

I applied to a position that fits perfectly to my background and skills, and I was interested in the position and the job responsibilities and the solutions the company provides, and although I passed the HR interviews, the hiring manager decided not to move forward with my application. At this point I wonder why?
You may not have been the best qualified for the role. Often, a good HR person is able to bring many qualified people to the hiring manager, and picking the best one means rejecting several excellent candidates.

We will never know what actually happened, and why an application was rejected.
True, which is one reason that you should not assume that the reason is nefarious.
 
  • #15
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Maybe in some companies that is true, but it certainly isn’t true in my company. It can be very frustrating as a hiring manager to have what you see as a perfectly qualified candidate rejected by others in the organization.

You may not have been the best qualified for the role. Often, a good HR person is able to bring many qualified people to the hiring manager, and picking the best one means rejecting several excellent candidates.

True, which is one reason that you should not assume that the reason is nefarious.
It is subjective how different people define best qualified candidate (is it about technical skills, education, culture, language proficiency, ... etc), and eventually, the final decision is highly subjective, especially if only one person is responsible for that decision.

I searched the word "nefarious" and it means wicked and criminal, which I don't think is what I am saying. I am just saying that there is a possibility that the HR/hiring managers/employers are biased (especially when you know you are a good match, but they think otherwise), and no one would know that if it was true. I understand that I may not be the best candidate, but when I know I am at least a good candidate and live in the same city, and my application is rejected immediately once it reached the hiring manager, without filling the position by any other candidate, means I am not qualified in the eyes of the hiring manager, which I don't think is the case.

For most other positions I applied for, I know there are better candidates than me out there, because it is about other career path, where I have no previous experience, but for this one in particular, I was very confident that I am a good fit, just to be shocked by the decision.
 
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  • #16
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First, "it's not fair!" is an argument invented by five-year-olds. It's not likely to take us anywhere useful.

Second, of course the process is not fair. A truly fair process would ensure that an identical job with an identical pool of candidates would always produce the same outcome. Since we know the process doesn't do that, of course it isn't fair. One hiring manager might favor a candidate with slightly more experience over one with slightly more education, and another might prefer the candidate with slightly more education. It's not fair.

However, as pointed out, there are certain characteristics one can not legally use as a factor of hiring. But everything else is fair game.

Third, just because you were well-qualified for a position does not mean you were the best-qualified.

Finally, the hiring manager does not owe you an explanation. I've hired people for positions with literally hundreds of applicants. If I had to explain to each and every one of them why I chose someone else, I would have time for little else.
 
  • #17
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I searched the word "nefarious" and it means wicked and criminal, which I don't think is what I am saying.
Oh, since you were asking about government enforcement of anti discrimination laws I thought you suspected something nefarious (it’s a good word, isn’t it, both its sound and its meaning are sinister)

there is a possibility that the HR/hiring managers/employers are biased
Of course they are biased. They are not flipping a fair coin to make this decision. They are ideally highly biased towards good future employees and biased against poor ones. A hiring manager is paid largely to be appropriately biased. Only a very few biases are illegal. All other biases are legal, and many of them are important and good.

If you are not speaking specifically of illegal biases then you are right. The fact of your rejection is conclusive evidence of a bias against you. Most likely a completely ethical bias but a bias nonetheless.
 
  • #18
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Oh, since you were asking about government enforcement of anti discrimination laws I thought you suspected something nefarious (it’s a good word, isn’t it, both its sound and its meaning are sinister)

Of course they are biased. They are not flipping a fair coin to make this decision. They are ideally highly biased towards good future employees and biased against poor ones. A hiring manager is paid largely to be appropriately biased. Only a very few biases are illegal. All other biases are legal, and many of them are important and good.

If you are not speaking specifically of illegal biases then you are right. The fact of your rejection is conclusive evidence of a bias against you. Most likely a completely ethical bias but a bias nonetheless.
I said all these anti discrimination laws are useless and used only for political-correctness, because no one can know what is happening in the hiring process decisions. I was raising a question/wondering of the possibility of bias and discrimination based on ethnicity and culture. It took me years to begin to consider this argument, because what is happening doesn't make sense. Obviously, most people who are not in the same boat overlook this argument as childish and an excuse. You said "Most likely a completely ethical bias". Do you have any statistical data to support this claim that most likely there is no discrimination is happening in the workforce against new immigrants, especially from a different culture? I will stop here. If this thread is closed, that would be better. This argument is fruitless.
 
  • #19
Dr Transport
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Employers have three choices:
  • Hire a candidate who would be effective
  • Hire the best candidate
  • Hire who they like

Further, you might expect that employers avoid hiring a candidate who is difficult to hire, or whom they believe will be troublesome.
Maybe in some companies that is true, but it certainly isn’t true in my company. It can be very frustrating as a hiring manager to have what you see as a perfectly qualified candidate rejected by others in the organization.
I had both of the cases above happen to me in the past two years. I interviewed at 3 companies based off of a VP recommendation that they look at hiring me, all three came back with we will not pursue an offer because our people think that you are highly qualified, but would not fit into the group culturally, in other words, you are highly qualified for the position but our current employees do not like your personality so you don't get the position. Ironically, I am now working for one of their major customers, i.e. funding agents, so their funding proposals are getting extra scrutiny and two of them have had proposals rejected because of it. Karma is a bit**.
 
  • #20
Evo
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Sometimes you can actually be considered "over qualified" and they are afraid that you will leave once you find a better job.

This is a real problem for people in highly stressful, high paid jobs that wish to move down to a less stressful and lower paid job. No one wants to hire you. They are afraid you will leave them.
 
  • #21
The halo effect likely has a role to play in the final decision, among other biases which others have pointed out above. I don't think there will ever be a 100% 'fair' system implemented, unless it will be some form of computer algorithm which uses data from the job description to asses which traits are most closely indicative of success in the specified job, and then matches it with the candidate who most closely resembles that "perfect" employee.
 
  • #22
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Do you have any statistical data to support this claim that most likely there is no discrimination is happening in the workforce against new immigrants, especially from a different culture?
I thought you were specifically not asking about illegal biases. Please make up your mind. Are you asking about legal biases or illegal biases? This is getting very confusing.

I do not think that the rate of illegal bias is 0. I do think that it is rare. I have been involved in several hires and there has never been an instance of illegal bias in any of those, but that is not a random sample.

An interesting paper about the statistical and legal issues:

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1167&context=bjell
 
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  • #23
PeroK
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Of course I cannot reach out to him/her, because that may look aggressive, and besides, probably he/she wouldn't care to reply.
That's exactly what you should do. Contact the company rationally and respectfully. Explain you were very interested in the job and would like to know why you were unsuccessful. You could also ask if there anything you could do to improve your chances of getting a similar post in future.

Until you do that, all else is pure speculation.
 
  • #24
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I said all these anti discrimination laws are useless
That is so far from correct that it's hard to even describe. Jim Crow is gone. "No Jews Need Apply" is gone. And so on. If you want to argue that the laws are not 100% effective, so are laws against murder. But I don't think anyone here will call them useless.
 
  • #25
berkeman
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If this thread is closed, that would be better.
Thread closed at OP's request. Thanks for all of the replies, folks. :smile:
 

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