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This one decision helped an investment firm radically diversify its intern program

Capital Group was concerned that its intern program was too homogeneous. Ditching résumés helped them recruit a class that was 50% female and 58% nonwhite.

This one decision helped an investment firm radically diversify its intern program
[Photo: iStock]

Habits are easy to fall into, including when you’re hiring. Capital Group, a global investment firm headquartered in Los Angeles, had created a robust internship program, but each summer the new class would look much like the last. Company leaders decided it was time to expand the opportunity.

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“We had been going to the same set of schools, such as the Ivy Leagues and other well-known schools, and we realized we were limiting ourselves,” says Karin Pearson, vice president of talent acquisition at Capital Group. “We decided we could find more diverse talent if we took a broader approach.”

At first, the firm expanded the number of schools from which it scouted, but it wasn’t enough. “We began to recognize a pattern in hiring managers with an unconscious bias toward top schools or the schools where they had attended,” says Pearson. “We knew there were fantastic candidates at lesser known schools that may have been overlooked in the past.”

So, company leaders decided to take it a step further, adopting a program called “Rid the Résumé.”

A new way of interviewing

Managers interviewed candidates without knowing their background. The idea was to get to know the candidate through behavioral-based interview questions about background, experience, work ethic, and thought process, instead of focusing on their school experience.

“It was a challenge at first,” admits Pearson. “Managers were used to looking at the résumé and asking questions from that. We had a really good group of managers who were open-minded and willing to try a new process. They saw the value at having a more diverse group of interns.”

To prep managers and create a level playing field, manages were instructed to ask the same set of competency-based interviews questions to everyone. In addition, the HR department created a video for candidates so they would know what to expect.

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“Normally, a candidate would expect that a manager had read their résumés, but we shared that our goal was to focus on getting to know the student,” says Pearson.

What happened next

By getting rid of résumés, Pearson says the hiring managers could focus on the conversation instead of simply reading through a summary of the candidate’s experience.

“One thing we heard from hiring managers is that they were much more focused on the candidate in the moment,” says Pearson. “It’s easier to listen to and process an answer when you’re doing one thing. They also noticed that moving away from talking about schools gave them a deeper conversation. They weren’t taking mental shortcuts, such as assuming things about a student if they went to a certain school.”

As the managers worked more closely with the interns, they became more comfortable going without the résumés, says Pearson.

“It’s dramatically brought in schools and other parts of country and globe that we hadn’t worked with before,” she says. “This brought us more racial, ethnic, and gender balance. Our most recent class of 76 interns had a 50/50 gender balance, and 58% were of a race other than Caucasian. We’re happy with the progress, and the experience was very enriching allowing us to meet students from many different schools. It was good for us and for the students.”

The diverse group of interns became successful job candidates, and the company is exploring the idea of expanding the “Rid the Résumé” program to other business units in 2021.

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“We frequently hear form hiring managers that they’re surprised at the creativity and new ideas the interns bring, coming from different background,” says Pearson. “Managers have told us time and time again how they’ve been pleasantly surprised at breadth of experience and knowledge. We feel like this is a good approach to hiring, and now that managers have seen it in action, we want to roll it out to a broader subset of hires.”

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