Blind Hiring

5 Steps to Get Started With Blind Hiring

So you've decided you don't want to miss out on hiring the best talent as a result of unconscious bias in your recruitment process. How do you get started with blind hiring?

In this post we'll cover:

Ensuring Blind Hiring is the Right Choice for You

It's often assumed that blind hiring will help increase gender and ethnic diversity. But it doesn't guarantee this. For a start, blind hiring only changes the way you select who to interview from your pool of applicants, not the people that are attracted to apply. If you only attract middle-aged white men to apply, blind hiring isn't going to help.

But assuming you have some diversity in your applicant pool, blind hiring is likely to increase the diversity of first-round interviewees. But again, once candidates are being interviewed face-to-face, there's no way to obscure the details that were previously being hidden and some unconscious bias might still creep in.

Blind recruitment also doesn't change the fact that you want to create a positive working environment for your employees and naturally look to employ people who will work well together. This often leads to a company mainly employing people of a certain background, with a similar upbringing and level of education which results in a workforce lacking diversity.

However, Azmat Mohammed, Director General of the Institute of Recruiters, says companies that initiate blind recruitment practices virtually always see a more diverse workforce, which helps businesses overall.

Whilst blind recruitment should never be pitched as a 'quick fix', it is undeniably a great step towards increasing diversity at your organization.

Standardizing CVs and Removing Details That Could Result in Bias

It's important to identify what key pieces of information are going to be removed from candidate resumes and applications as part of the blind hiring process.

Many companies use name-blind recruitment which is the removal of the candidate's name by an employee (who is normally not part of the hiring department) before the CV is passed on to a hiring manager. This helps to limit prejudice based on gender, and sometimes nationality, when hiring new talent. But this still leaves many key personal details that can unconsciously change the perception of the candidate in the mind of a recruiter.

There's no one-size-fits-all rule book to follow when it comes to blind recruitment. Some companies may want to omit everything from names to schools from CVs whereas others may just want to remove those they think their company has a bias for.

Though you don't have to remove all of them we recommend you remove some of the following:

Name

As part of a study, researchers sent out almost 13,000 fake CVs to over 3,000 job postings. They found that people with Chinese, Pakistani or Indian-sounding names were 28% less likely to get invited to an interview than the fictional candidates with English-sounding names (despite their qualifications being the same).

Callback Rates in Recruitment

A candidate's name is also a clear indicator of gender which in some cases can play a part in bias and the removal of a name minimizes the chance of gender-based discrimination.

Education and names of previous employers

The names of schools always attract an assumption regarding the academic caliber of students. However, the university a candidate graduated from bares little relevance to their suitability for a certain job.

Also, the University a candidate attended can indicate their ethnicity or economic background resulting in a higher risk for bias.

Even if you as the employer aren't consciously perceiving them to be less-skilled you might be deciding they're less suitable unconsciously based on your pre-conceived notions of different schools.

Equally, the name of the company should not be a factor in your decision as working at a large company such as Facebook does not make a candidate any more qualified for a position. The position of the candidate in a company and their level of experience should be the most significant factor.

Age

Removing date of both from applications and CVs is an obvious step if you're trying to reduce age discrimination. But years spent at previous jobs and dates of education will allow the age of a candidate to be roughly estimated. Removing these dates from the information presented to your team members that are part of the selection process will help to reduce the risk of age bias.

Age Discrimination Stats

Address

The home address of a candidate can reveal information about their socio-economic background that could cause unconscious bias.

If the backgrounds of candidates don't match those of current employees an employer may be unconsciously inclined to rank the candidate lower due to the possibility of them not working well with current employees. Therefore, the removal of the candidate's home address can be a valuable alteration.

Creating a Workflow for Your Blind Hiring Process

Two key things must be decided on when creating a workflow for managing CVs as part of a blind hiring process:

  • What details are going to be removed?
  • What format is the information going to be presented in?

The same details must be removed for every candidate so that they're all placed on a level playing field. The information should be presented in a standardized format so the potential poor presentation of a badly designed résumé does not distract from the merits that a candidate has.

If you don't have an applicant tracking system that features blind recruitment software, the workload to implement your new hiring strategy will be significantly increased. An employee (who ideally isn't involved in the hiring process) will have to manually re-format the CV and application for each candidate. For a sought after job with many applicants; this can result in a much slower hiring process than normal which will make blind recruiting a far less attractive option.

So it is crucial for you to have recruitment software that incorporates blind hiring features if you're going to consistently run a blind recruitment process.

Reviewing Standardized Candidate Information

Now you have to make sure that your hiring team receives only the altered CVs without anything that you have deemed a cause of unconscious bias. If you don't already have an applicant tracking system, you'll need to choose a way to store and distribute the new CVs amongst your team.

Some companies still rely on printing copies of CVs, handing them out, then counting them back in. Others will use a document storage solution like Dropbox. If you have the choice you should lean entirely towards a digital workflow to remove the stressful process of managing different hardcopy versions of the same CV.

Other than handling both the original and "blind" versions of the same CV your selection process will remain the same.

Interviewing and Hiring the Best Candidates

Whether or not blind recruitment will be effective depends on your objectives.

The blind hiring system is designed to ensure that applicants are invited to interview based on their merits and skills.

In contrast, the interviewing process provides an opportunity for bias to creep back in.

One way to reduce the risk of bias in the interview process is to use standardized interview scorecards. These ensure that candidates are scored against a consistent set of pre-determined criteria that are most important to the success of people you hire into that particular role.

These scorecards also ensure that an interview stays on track and make sure you get the key information you need about each candidate.

Making Blind Hiring Easier with Pinpoint

Pinpoint's blind hiring feature makes it easy to start using blind hiring:

  • Turn on ‘Blind Recruitment’ for a specific job. Pinpoint will read the data submitted in applications and resumes and present it so that personally identifiable information is removed.
  • Share candidate profiles with your hiring team who will assess applicants but won’t see their name, address, race, age, gender or photo.
  • When ready, your team will invite successful applicants to interview, after which their data is fully visible.

We'd love to show you how it works - get started with a free demo here.

Get started with Blind Recruitment

We'd love you show you how Pinpoint makes it easier with an automated process for removing personal information from applications at the press of a button.

About the Author Tom Burston

Tom is a Client Engagement Specialist at Pinpoint. Before joining Pinpoint Tom headed up recruitment for the offshore business of Standard Bank.