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The need for competency based recruitment and selection

What was wrong with the ‘good old days’?

In 1993, Aneez Esmail and Sam Everington, two junior doctors, piloted a study to investigate whether doctors with Asian sounding names were less likely to be shortlisted for an interview, (see Esmail and Everington, 1993). The study design involved developing a CV for six fictional junior doctors of whom three had Asian names and three had British sounding names. All 6 fictional applicants were male, the same age, with comparable education and comparable training within the UK. In addition, all were at the same stage of their career, applying for their first SHO post in a non-teaching hospital. Matched pairs of applications were sent to each advertised vacancy and the only difference between the two were the names.


The authors sent out 46 applications for 23 advertised SHO posts in a number of different specialties. 18 applications were short-listed of whom 12 had English names and six Asian names. There wasn’t a single example where the Asian doctor was selected, but not the matched English pair.


The original intention had been to apply for 100 posts but the study was terminated abruptly when the authors were reported to the fraud squad, interviewed by the police, and reported to the GMC. (Subsequently both the Police and the GMC withdrew and no further actions were taken).


Four years later the authors repeated the study (Esmail and Everington, 1997). Matched pairs of applications were sent for 50 advertised posts and there was again a significant difference in the rate of short-listing, even though the fictional CVs had been matched on all relevant criteria except for the name.

So clearly – the good old days weren’t quite so good for doctors without British sounding surnames.


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