How Speech Patterns Lead to Hiring Bias | Harvard Business Review

Talent Acquisition

Most organizations understand the importance of fair and valid hiring practices. However, criteria beyond the scope of knowledge, abilities, and performance can still permeate (often unintentionally) the hiring practices of organizations, even amongst seasoned professionals with experience reviewing resumes and interviewing job candidates. In this study, the researchers tested whether people’s speech patterns — how they pronounce words and phrases — would allow perceivers to predict their socio-economic status and, in turn, make them more or less attractive as job candidates. Participants accurately perceived the socioeconomic status of those speaking and, in turn, judged those of lower status to be less competent and a worse fit for the job. These findings should compel organizations to continuously evaluate their hiring practices and ensure that they are providing decision-makers, in the hiring process, with capability training that helps to avoid biases like these when making hiring decisions. Doing so not only reduces unfair hiring practices but increases the likelihood of selecting the best candidate for the position.

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