When you’re in the Human Resources line of work, you see a lot of applicants come and go. From seeing them on paper in the form of their resumes to hearing their voices in phone screenings to seeing them in person during the physical interview: an endless parade of qualifications and years with Company X and on and on. After a while, it gets a lot easier to see who fits the bill for the job in question and who should really not have applied in the first place. Unfortunately, this decisiveness can sometimes get in the way of giving every job seeker an equal shot at the position. As it turns out, the way that a candidate sounds on the phone (the tone of their voice, their speech patterns, etc.) can have a huge effect on their chances, and not just in a bad way!
According to this article on phone interview voice bias, people are very prone to assumptions about the candidates that they’re interviewing based solely on the candidates voice. For instance, high voices convey frivolousness while weak voices project a lack of maturity and inexperience. When there’s just the voice to go on, it’s easy to make the same sort of snap judgement that occurs when you see a particularly underwhelming resume. Oh, you might think, this guy sounds like Beaker from the Muppets. And just like Beaker’s fireproof paper, that person’s chances are up in smoke.
No matter how squeaky or heavily accented a person’s voice is, it’s important to give them all an equal shot. Not just because you might be chopping talent for no good reason, but because it can get you slapped with a discrimination lawsuit.
And the good news? It turns out that if you have the same regional accent as the person that you’re being interviewed by, you have a greater chance on getting the job. Just don’t go putting on interview day. You might not be too thrilled about having to do a Texan accent all day a few months down the line.