Presented By
O’Reilly + Cloudera
Make Data Work
March 25-28, 2019
San Francisco, CA

Shortcuts that short-circuit talent pipelines: Data-driven optimization of hiring

Maryam Jahanshahi (TapRecruit)
11:50am12:30pm Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Average rating: ****.
(4.80, 5 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Directors of data science, engineering, or analytics and anyone hiring data scientists, engineers, or analysts



Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of NLP and the hiring process (useful but not required)

What you'll learn

  • Understand the complexity of analyzing career documents (job descriptions, résumés, etc.)
  • Learn the implication of using rules of thumb (heuristics) in hiring
  • Explore ways to leverage data to substantially reduce time to fill on difficult roles and improve applicant quality for data science and tech roles
  • Discover overlooked areas of bias and unfairness that creep into the hiring process and see how to eliminate them


As acute shortages for data scientists and engineers further develop in competitive talent markets, it’s imperative to address biases and bottlenecks in the hiring of data scientists and engineers. Most companies approach hiring and talent management as an art, relying on judgment and experience when conceptualizing jobs, drafting JDs, and screening and assessing candidates.

Maryam Jahanshahi explains how often-innocuous recruiting decisions have dramatic impacts on hiring outcomes, from the success of a hiring process to the candidate pool composition and the amount of time it takes to hire. She then discusses how using data-driven approaches provide an arbitrage opportunity that has significant impact on both the quality and diversity of candidate pools for data science and engineering roles.

Maryam covers the role of confounders in the hiring process, explores the complexity of job descriptions, and shares how she extracted signal from noise to extract the key conclusions she presents. She then presents key hiring heuristics in three vignettes: the one word that creates significant ripple effects at every stage of the hiring process; the surprising way that startups do better in the talent war for data scientists and engineers; and hacking diversity, or how she and her team learned to reproducibly and robustly recruit a diverse pool of data scientists and engineers.

Photo of Maryam Jahanshahi

Maryam Jahanshahi


Maryam Jahanshahi is a research scientist at TapRecruit, a company that is developing software tools to implement evidence-based recruiting. TapRecruit’s research program integrate recent advances in NLP, data science, and decision science to identify robust methods to reduce bias in talent decision making and attract more qualified and diverse candidate pools. In a past life, Maryam was a cancer scientist, where she researched how growing organs “know” they’ve reached the right size. She’s originally from Melbourne, Australia.