Corporate Moneyball

FORBES.COM - Ashlea Ebeling
April 11, 2007

Keep an eye on your credit report and vacation time. If you have a bad number, you could get zapped from the short list for a job.

Landing a position at Capital One used to take little more than a good résumé and a great interview. Today prospective employees might have an easier time getting hired by NASA. The McLean, Va. company, well-known for using statistics to identify prospects for its credit card pitches, is applying that approach to the evaluation of job candidates. Applicants must undergo prehiring assessments that include a series of online tests. Math and verbal reasoning skills are examined, as are work habits and leadership skills. Candidates who pass those online tests are then interviewed and some are asked to evaluate a brainteaser of a business case, such as planning a profitable prepaid phone card promotion. Their responses are crunched into a score that suggests how well they might perform at Capital One. “Staffing was a guessing game before,” says Matt Schuyler, Capital One’s personnel director.

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Tossing more personal information in the mix is worrisome to some prospective employees. In one pending case at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Lisa Bailey, who is African-American, is suing Harvard University for withdrawing her job offer as a donations data entry clerk last year because of information on her credit report. Piper Hoffman, the woman’s lawyer, says using credit reports to evaluate job candidates discriminates against racial minorities who are more likely to have poor credit histories than whites.

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