Blind Hiring

Blind Hiring: Is It Effective and Should You Be Doing It?

Kelly Barcelos on January 31, 2022 in Applicant Tracking System

What Is Blind Hiring?

Blind hiring is a recruitment practice aimed at eliminating the unconscious bias based on gender, ethnicity, race, and age in the workplace. In blind hiring, the identifiable characteristics from a resume that are not related to the job or experiences are blacked out, and the hiring decisions are made purely on the basis of the skills, experience, and expertise of the candidate.

Blind recruitment helps:

  • overcome unconscious bias
  • promote diversity in the workforce
  • organizations make stronger hires

Blind hiring is trending as companies around the world are working hard to promote diversity in their process of recruitment. Its foothold increased after studies showed that people with ethnic names had to send out 50% more resumes before they got a call from job hunters with “white” sounding names.

The origin of blind hiring can be traced back to the 1970s, where most of the symphony orchestras were made of white men. To increase diversity, orchestras held auditions behind a curtain so that the judges could select musicians based on their performance and not on their gender. As a result, 25%-45% more women were hired.

Blind Hiring Best Practices

You can bring about blind hiring in your organizations by implementing these best practices:

  1. Create job descriptions that encourage diverse candidates to apply

    To build a diverse workforce, your job descriptions should attract diverse candidates to apply.

    Some tips to prepare inclusive job descriptions are:

    • Avoid using gender biases. Instead of using “he,” “she,” or “he/she,” use terms like “the ideal candidate.” Job listings with gender-neutral wording attract 42% more responses.
    • Avoid using job titles like “chairman” or terms like “guys.” Although these terms are not gender-biased, they can be easily misunderstood.
    • Age-related or racial terms may appear accidentally in the job description. So, be cautious.
  2. Hide the academic information

    A degree from a reputed college or a low GPA isn’t a sign of a candidate’s potential to do well in work and life. Consider the skills of the candidates and not their academic information.

    You can keep specific academic information such as what degree does the candidate have, but hide the names and the dates they attended college to keep unnecessary, unconscious bias at bay.

  3. Remove unnecessary demographic information from candidates’ resumes

    Information like name, headshots, zip code, etc., on the resume can clearly give off identity cues, making blind hiring an impossible task. However, sometimes demographic information is crucial to the hiring process. Figure out what demographic information can drive unnecessary bias that you can do without and remove this data from candidates’ resumes.

  4. Don’t use social media to pre-screen candidates

    Candidates’ social media profiles give you access to a lot of information about them could easily create bias. But, don’t ignore social media screening completely from your hiring process because the information on it can expose you to some red flags before extending an offer to a candidate. Screen the social media profile only after initial interviews are done.

  5. Gather data about your candidates’ skills

    You need to collect candidate information that can help you assess their skills, talents, and abilities. You can conduct a series of assessments where you get to gather enough data about the candidate’s abilities, personality characteristics, and skills. These assessment tests also allow candidates to get a realistic preview of the job as they are exposed to company culture, work environment, and the day-to-day job realities.

  6. Measure the effectiveness

    It’s important that you track the “before” and the “after” to measure the effectiveness of the bling hiring techniques you have implemented in your hiring strategy.

    • Have you been able to attract and interview diverse candidates?
    • Are you increasing your workplace diversity?

    Collect this data over a period of few months. If you are hiring every few months, collecting this data may take a year or so. After analyzing the data, if you find that blind hiring processes haven’t improved your diversity, add more touchpoints to remove biases.

  7. Anonymize the initial round of interviews

    Anonymizing an interview is extremely challenging as even phone interviews can give away the gender and the age of the candidate. So, how to anonymize the initial interview? Some ways you can adopt are:

    • Email candidates a question and answer form to fill out.
    • Live chat with the candidate to know them better.

    Use automated interviewing robots to conduct the initial interview and report back.

  8. Constantly educate your team about unconscious bias

    You might be using the best of bling hiring techniques, but you will fail at your job if your team is operating with biases. Educate your team on unconscious bias and its consequences on the hiring process and even on the organization as a whole. You may want to follow these tips:

    • Give your team examples of how bias can appear unintentionally.
    • Provide training on how to identify these biases, both in themselves and their coworkers.
    • Teach them ways of reducing and eliminating biases during the hiring and interviewing processes.

Blind Hiring Pros and Cons

While blind hiring is currently being used by small, medium and large companies, there are certainly pros and cons that have to be considered.

Advantages of Blind Hiring

  1. Build a diverse team and raise the bottom line

    When the competition is high and resources are at stake, you can raise your bottom line by outperforming your competitors. A diverse team helps you do so. There are ample studies that show companies with diverse workforce do better.

    • Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%; and
    • Teams with an equal number of women and men earn 41% more in revenue.
  2. Boost your employer brand

    We have established the fact that blind hiring helps build diverse teams with diverse skills and talents. These teams bring the best ideas to the table that help deal with the needs and perspectives of diverse customers. This helps in employer branding.

  3. Enhance team performance and creativity

    Creativity and innovation are major factors that keep you ahead in the competition. Diverse teams, with their collective diverse skills and talents, become stronger and perform better.

  4. Find strong hires

    At times, academic background or work experience is a poor indicator of a candidate’s skills, and talent. In blind hiring, skills are tested and hiring is not based on the merits listed on the paper. This allows you to hire strong candidates.

  5. Retain and engage employees

    Employees often decide to leave an organization when they do not see their career progressing, or they don’t find the work environment empowering. Without diversity, the work culture becomes monotonous and stressful, triggering employees to quit.

    Millennials, which form a large portion of the workforce, want to work with a company that focuses on workplace diversity. Moreover, 83% of millennials are more engaged when their organization has a diverse work culture; without diversity, this figure drops to 60%.

Disadvantages of Blind Recruitment

Blind recruitment does come with some downsides. Here are a few of them:

  1. Increases the time taken for application screening

    When the candidate identification details are removed from the resume, the time taken to screen the application increases, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the process.

  2. Doesn’t allow the candidate’s personality to come through

    Some candidate’s express themselves better through their resume. For example, a writer or a designer may attempt to show off their skills in their resume.

  3. Prevent from hiring a culture fit

    By anonymizing the details of the candidate, you could prevent yourself from hiring a candidate who is a perfect fit to your company culture.

Is Blind Hiring Right for You?

There’s no one-size-fits-all rulebook to follow for blind recruitment; it’s a process that needs to be tailored to each organization. So it’s up to you and your organization to choose how “blind” you want to go with.

Some companies blur out the gender, names, ages, and education from a resume, while some might only omit candidate information they believe could trigger bias.

Once you’ve figured out the essential skills a candidate must possess to fill the open role in your organization, it’s easy to determine how far you would want to go with blind recruitment.

The characteristics that do not have any bearing on the candidate’s competency are name, gender, age, sexual orientation, address, and marital status; so, as a loose rule, you can blind them all from the application process.

The above best practices are all great ways to reduce bias throughout your entire recruitment funnel. But, keep on experimenting with different methods until you find the best method that can improve diversity and create a stronger recruitment and hiring process.

Wrapping it up

Blind recruitment in its purest sense involves hiring without knowing your candidates’ name, gender, age, educational background, race, or work experience. And it is definitely a step in the right direction towards creating a more diverse workplace. It has its own set of limitations, but the practice is still in the teething period. As more and more organizations use blind hiring, more opportunities will be created for a diverse range of people, resulting in a strong, diverse team selected solely based on their skills.

Kelly Barcelos

Kelly Barcelos is a progressive digital marketing manager specializing in HR and is responsible for leading Jobsoid’s content and social media team. When Kelly is not building campaigns, she is busy creating content and preparing PR topics. She started with Jobsoid as a social media strategist and eventually took over the entire digital marketing team with her innovative approach and technical expertise.