The Initial Screening Order Problem

Jose M. Alvarez, Antonio Mastropietro,Salvatore Ruggieri


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We investigate the role of the initial screening order (ISO) in candidate screening processes, such as hiring and academic admissions. ISO refers to the order in which the screener sorts the candidate pool before the evaluation. It has been largely overlooked in the literature, despite its potential impact on the optimality and fairness of the chosen set, especially under a human screener. We define two problem formulations: best-k, where the screener chooses the k best candidates, and good-k, where the screener chooses the first k good-enough candidates. To study the impact of ISO, we introduce a human-like screener and compare to its algorithmic counterpart. The human-like screener is conceived to be inconsistent over time due to fatigue. Our analysis shows that the ISO under a human-like screener hinders individual fairness despite meeting group level fairness. This is due to the position bias, where a candidate's evaluation is affected by its position within ISO. We report extensive simulated experiments exploring the parameters of the problem formulations both for algorithmic and human-like screeners. This work is motivated by a real world candidate screening problem studied in collaboration with a large European company.
initial screening,order
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