Diverse candidates
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Is unconscious bias keeping you from the best talent? Learn how to combat it

5 Jan 2017

It’s no secret that the tech sector looks pretty homogeneous. With platforms like Triplebyte, finding the best, most diverse talent can be incredibly simple.

Unconscious bias is a natural human instinct. We automatically gravitate to people who are like us. We pattern match. When it comes to recruitment, we hire what we recognise.

While this is most obviously recognisable as an issue when women or people of colour are getting shut out of the tech world, barriers of race and gender are not the only ones that have been erected. Background can also play a huge part.

Dropbox global head of diversity Judith Williams, speaking on stage at Inspirefest 2016, gave the example of reading the CV of a person who went to the same college as you. That something in common, she said, could draw subconscious lines between you and the applicant. Williams called these “warm fuzzies”.

These warm fuzzies, however, can also give you a mental block to anyone who isn’t like you. Flip ‘being drawn to someone who went to the same college as you’ on its head, and you see that it also means you may be unconsciously biased against people who didn’t.

So how do we stop our unconscious biases from standing between us and the best hire? How do we look beyond background – or gender or skin colour – to see the person and their skills?

A number of tech start-ups are hoping to solve that exact problem. Triplebyte is just one.

Founded by Harj Taggar, Ammon Bartram and Guillaume Luccisano in 2015, Triplebyte aims to strip away Silicon Valley’s biases to ensure that people from a wealth of different backgrounds can get through the hiring door.

As with any sector, the vast bulk of tech companies filter applicants based on credentials. At interview stage, those who made it through that first filtering stage are often presented with ‘technical challenges’, designed to assess how a person thinks.

Often, there is no stage during which an applicant is actually tested on the most important thing: how well they code.

This system can exclude those who are self-taught, or who have valuable experience at small, relatively unknown companies, as well as exceptional coders who don’t respond well to brain teasers.

As Triplebyte’s ‘manifesto’ reads, “Technical hiring processes harm both excellent candidates who don’t interview well and companies trying to hire good programmers.”

The start-up offers an alternative: take an online coding test on Triplebyte; get matched with, and wooed by, companies including Apple, Dropbox and Reddit; and then skip to the final interview stage.

In addition to the above process, Triplebyte helps candidates through salary negotiations and, if an applicant is unsuccessful in their attempt to find a job, the company will provide tips for improvement.

Although the start-up’s focus is on removing the barriers presented by technical interviews, the benefits of a system like this can be applicable across the spectrum of unconscious biases.

Triplebyte currently works with programming talent, globally.

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Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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