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“Algorithms?” The DEIB dangers of asking questions you don’t understand

“What is your algorithm?”

We were recently asked this question at the conclusion of a demonstration of our anonymous candidate screening platform.

There is a ton of advice now encouraging people to ask this question when evaluating technology, especially within diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve been providing similar advice for years. It’s critical to understand what vendor technology is doing as part of due diligence to ensure you do not inadvertently introduce bias into your hiring processes.

There is just one problem… in this case, the question made no sense.

Career.Place doesn’t use embedded algorithms for candidate selection. Employers set the requirements and questions on our platform and then the employer evaluates the quality of the candidate responses to determine if the candidate passes the screening. In other words, the “algorithm” is completely in the control of the employer.

So, you can imagine, after showing step-by-step how our solution works we were a bit surprised by the question.

Then the truth dawned on us…

“Do you know what an algorithm is?” we asked politely.

They didn’t. They were just following the common advice to ask about the algorithm. The individual even confessed that they didn’t usually understand the answers given to that question. They just wrote it down and hoped someone in the organization evaluating the notes would know.