Obasi Shaw
August 2, 2023

How we make sure our technical interviews are actually fair (and how you can too)

When it comes to interviewing and hiring tech talent, most modern recruiting teams are seeking to balance two goals: assessing candidates rigorously and effectively, and hiring a diverse team – in race, gender, and background. Many interview tools and candidate assessment platforms measure the first goal with a well-known metric: the onsite-to-offer ratio. But you might want to know – how are technical interview platforms measuring fairness in their technical interview processes?

At Byteboard we’ve been tracking our diversity numbers carefully, using (among other tools) the gold standard of hiring fairness metrics: The Adverse Impact Ratio, also sometimes referred to as the Four-Fifths Rule. The Adverse Impact Ratio is an easy calculation; take the pass rate of an underrepresented group and divide it by the pass rate of the majority group. 

For example if 20% of women are getting passing scores on your technical interview, and 40% of men are getting passing scores, the adverse impact ratio for women is 20%/40%, or 50%.

The reason it’s often referred to as the Four-Fifths Rule is because the long-time standard for fairness in candidate selection – popularized and upheld by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – is an 80% (or four-fifths) adverse impact ratio across all protected groups. If you can achieve an 80% or higher ratio across all demographics, you can rest assured that your hiring process isn’t meaningfully biased against any of those groups.

Unfortunately it’s an open secret in the tech industry that tech hiring’s diversity numbers are often dismal. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that some people even believe that the goals of rigor and diversity are in conflict – that in order to hire a diverse team, you have to “lower the bar” for both non-technical and technical interviews, so to speak. This is disappointing, because in our experience helping teams assess tech talent, we at Byteboard have found that the exact opposite is true: as we’ve focused our efforts on constantly improving the quality and rigor of our technical assessments to increase our clients’ onsite-to-offer ratios, we’ve also watched the fairness of our assessments climb.

So far in 2023 Byteboard’s software engineering interviews have an adverse impact ratio above 80% for all races and genders. That means that teams who use Byteboard in their hiring process can be confident that they are helping to eliminate bias and increase fairness in the industry, while simultaneously increasing their own onsite-to-offer ratios.

If you want a fair and equitable hiring process, the first step is to make sure you’re measuring fairness effectively. If you’re using external screening tools and interview providers, ask them to provide their adverse impact numbers. And if you’re keeping your candidate assessment in-house, it’s an easy calculation to do on your own. But whatever you do, don’t sweep fairness under the rug, and don’t assume that you have to sacrifice fairness for efficacy, or vice versa.

Learn More 

With over 20K+ candidates evaluated, Byteboard helps companies evaluate high-quality talent through our redesigned technical interview proven to reduce mishires and improve candidate satisfaction. 

Schedule a demo to learn more about how we can help deliver results in your technical hiring.