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Expand Your Hiring Pool Beyond Elite Schools and High GPAs

An MIT economist says many of the credentials managers often look for aren’t always predictive of success.

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Illustration: Sujin Kim for Bloomberg Businessweek

Danielle Li, an economist and associate professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, studies how technology can help companies hire better. One key is to broaden interview pools using algorithms that favor nontraditional job applicants who might get screened out by off-the-shelf software and busy hiring managers. In a recent study Li conducted with a Fortune 500 company, she found that her approach increased the percentage of Black or Hispanic candidates interviewed to 23%, up from the 3% to 5% generated by traditional algorithms and the 10% the human recruiters considered. Here are edited excerpts from her interview with Arianne Cohen:

Companies often stick to known quantities: people from elite schools and people who are similar to those who succeeded at that firm in the past.