17

Summary Questions:

  1. When I'm concerned about an expert's neutrality, what should I do?

    • ask for another expert?
    • explain my concerns to the company and leave the decision to them?
    • don't mention it and hope for the best?
  2. If I do want to mention that, how to express that professionally and leave no impression that I may have some prejudice towards the expert? (or that I may refuse to work with similar people or will have a bad working relationship with them)?

Details:

I live in Ukraine and I'm searching for the job opportunities in other European countries. I contacted a recruitment agency in some EU country, all went well, and they requested a sample of my work to assess my technical skills.

I've provided the sample, but then it was revealed to me, that the assessment would be done by an expert who's currently living in Russia.

I have no problems with that.

However, in light of ongoing conflict between our countries and my previous experience from some of the encounters with Russians, I'm afraid that he may have negative feelings towards me because of my nationality/origin and that can reflect badly on the assessment.

He may get my name from repository, commit history, etc. etc., and he can easily establish my current country by just googling my name, hence the questions.

(This is a throw-away account for this question to remain anonymous. I would happily provide the login/password to moderators.)

Update: changed "Hiring company" to "Recruitment company" to make clear that this is not about direct hire and company's own in-house expert.

Update 2: I've got the evaluation result - it's really good and does not look like it's biased in any way. (This update is not relevant to the question, but provides closure for situation described in details - these particular concerns prove to be incorrect after all.)

  • 1
    Will you get to find out the results of the assessment? – user45590 Apr 18 '16 at 11:39
  • 2
    What is your goal? Try to prevent discrimination and land the job or to achieve a sense of self-righteousness by "proving" discrimination in a court of law? In your position the former is basically impossible and the latter is career suicide. For what it's worth though, the odds of the geopolitical situation affecting your chances is incredibly small. Doubly so if the expert is only "living in Russia" and not himself Russian. – Lilienthal Apr 18 '16 at 11:44
  • 1
    So you don't think the company might be just a little put off if you questioned the ability of the expert they selected? – paparazzo Apr 18 '16 at 11:51
  • 11
    You don't get it. You are not just questioning the expert you are questioning the ability of the recruitment company to select an expert. – paparazzo Apr 18 '16 at 11:55
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    @OlegV.Volkov my concerns are my concerns, and they're not the subject of this question - they may be incorrect, misguided and whatever you may consider them to be. Look at the details as an example. The question and most detailed (for now) answer I've accepted still would be ok if you replace Russia and Ukraine with placeholders CountryName1 and CountryName2. I do actually regret not phrasing it this way initially, because this may shift a focus from actual question to politics, and that's really off-topic on Workplace.SE. – krwlhw8uc38ffwb Apr 18 '16 at 17:31
50

Don't raise this, since nothing has actually happened.

There may be a risk that an evaluator in Russia will evaluate you unfairly, but you don't really know the level of risk. Consider that for this to harm you, all of the following would have to happen:

  • The expert would have to be biased against Ukrainians.
  • The expert would have to be willing to act on this bias and give you a bad evaluation. This would mean that the expert is not performing their job in a good faith manner, presumably putting their own job at risk.
  • The expert would have to make an effort to discover your nationality.

All in all, that would have to be someone who is not just biased but quite motivated to act on this bias in a punitive way. And this seems unlikely, given that in this scenario the expert would be shockingly unprofessional and bad at their job.

Even if this is going to happen, there is very little you can do by stating your concern ahead of time--it just makes you look like the unprofessional biased person.

If you do get a negative evaluation that doesn't seem justified, I would:

  • Seek more information about the evaluation.
  • Provide a response stating why you think it doesn't reflect on your actual skill level (with as much evidence as possible).

Even then, suggesting that it is due to bias is unlikely to be productive.

  • 3
    Good, well thought out answer – Kilisi Apr 18 '16 at 12:06
  • 7
    Also, trimming the tip of the tinfoil hat might help you (OP) get that job. – Mindwin Apr 18 '16 at 15:26
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    In the event that you decide to challenge your evaluation, your evidence as to why you don't think it's valid should not include the fact that the evaluator is Russian. – David K Apr 18 '16 at 18:56
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    For technical positions, it's getting more common for hiring managers to read applicants' previous work. Some ask for your GitHub name. I agree with your answer, but perhaps you should address the possibility that the expert finds out nationality unintentionally. – acbabis Apr 18 '16 at 20:14
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    I agree that this is probably the wisest course of action, but you're greatly underestimating how often people discriminate against other groups. The scenario you describe would in no way be 'shocking' and actually happens all the time. What you seem to not realize is that (most) people are not aware of their biases. So the chance that the OP will get discriminated against is extremely real. There is just nothing he can do about it. – David Mulder Apr 18 '16 at 20:33
15

I would go with your third option

just don't mention it and hope for the best

If the guy is a professional it shouldn't matter, if you display a problem with being assessed by a Russian because you're Ukrainian then that's makes you look bigoted.

If in fact you don't get the job, it may or may not be his fault, but life is not fair, you take these things in your stride and move forwards. You don't let someone else's prejudice dictate your own.

5

Don't worry about this, because the neutrality of any technical expert is never clear. Whether it's a face-to-face interview or distant testing, there is always a way to blame the human factor (e.g., race, age, visa status, or gender).

Side notes from own experience:

Being in your shoes in the past, and now being on the market from within the EU, I would say that the way you are asking the question is incorrect. The recruitment company never cares about evaluating your technical skills. By this I mean a real recruitment company, which can represent your details to the potential employer. This is simply not their job, and no employers will approach their decision based on skills evaluation done by a recruitment company.

There may be different reasons why a recruitment company would want to do the technical assessment, but unfortunately none of them will lead to employment.

2

Don't mention it

I agree with the other answers that it isn't really necessary to do anything with this. However, I would like to add a different opinion: explaining your concerns is perfectly fine.

Explain your concerns

The thing is, these are your concerns. Make it clear that this isn't something about the reviewer they chose, it's about your concerns. For example, you could start off by saying "I feel..." or something else to that effect.

I'm a bit afraid that my nationality may be taken into account by the person doing my assessment. For this reason, I would prefer it if someone who doesn't live in Russia would do the assessment.

Keep in mind that this is a request. For that reason, turning it down is a valid response. However, a recruitment agency not even willing to listen to this, they clearly do not have your best interests at heart. As such, I would say that you shouldn't be afraid of wasting a chance like this, because the chance wasn't worth taking if it does dissolve over this.

Conclusion

No, I don't think you have to mention it. It is probably not going to be a problem and others have mentioned good reasons for this. However, if phrased correctly, such a request should not scare away any agency that is worth working with.

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