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Removing Résumés From Hiring Process Can Improve Diversity

Some companies are emphasizing skills tests over educational or professional pedigree when assessing job candidates.

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Illustration: Kati Szilágyi for Bloomberg Businessweek

When Health Data Research UK, a public-health research nonprofit, sought to improve the industry’s track record of recruiting Black women by starting a new internship program, it removed a key aspect of the screening process: the résumé. Instead of looking at educational or professional experience to choose finalists from the 159 applicants for its program for Black people in health data science positions, the group created a short questionnaire that asked candidates to explain what artificial intelligence was or to talk about a recent piece of technology they were studying.

The result was that more female candidates applied than men. In the end, 30 of the 48 interns that Health Data Research hired were women. The organization is now using the same skills-based recruiting to make full-time hires. “We know that we’ve got this huge untapped talent out there,” says Tammy Palmer, its head of people. “We’re trying to break down that sense that you have to be a certain kind of person, that you have to have been to a certain kind of university, to become a scientist.”