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Blind Recruitment: The In-House Recruiter’s Guide to Blind Hiring

May 28th, 2019 6 minute read
Jess Stanier
Jess Stanier
People & Culture Specialist
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If you’re looking to attract and hire diverse talent and you’re taking time to carve out a diversity recruiting strategy, you have likely heard of Blind Hiring or Blind Recruitment.

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.

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

In this article we’ll answer the questions that our team regularly get asked about blind recruiting.

What is blind recruitment?

Blind recruitment (also known as blind hiring, blind screening, or blind shortlisting) is the process of removing all information from résumés and applications that could result in conscious or unconscious bias during the hiring process.

Instead of getting all the candidates information, the blind hiring tool removes an applicant’s name, contact information, age, gender, race, and photo. This helps hiring teams to assess applicants exclusively on their experience.

What is name-blind recruitment?

Name-blind recruitment is slightly different to blind recruitment.

Name-blind recruitment is the process of removing candidate names from applications and résumés. It’s a form of blind recruitment, but because it only disguises the candidate’s name, it’s not as effective at reducing bias as a full blind hiring process.

Name-blind recruiting is usually chosen by companies that want to get started with blind recruiting but find completely anonymizing résumés and applications too time-consuming, usually because they don’t have blind hiring software to automate the process.

What information is hidden in blind recruitment?

It’s worth saying that this varies, but usually, this information is hidden.

Applicant’s name and photo

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).

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.

Address and contact information

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.

Age

Removing the date from applications and CVs is an obvious step if you’re trying to reduce age discrimination. But years spent at previous jobs and periods 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.

Gender

This one is pretty obvious, removing gender from the resume means gender is no longer something to judge the applicant on.

Race

Removing the race of an applicant means that no bias can be applied to the candidate during this part of the recruitment process.

Education

The names of schools always attract an assumption regarding the academic caliber of students. However, the University a candidate graduated from has 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, don’t perceive them to be less-skilled, you might be deciding they’re less suitable unconsciously based on your preconceived notions of different schools.

What does a blind résumé look like?

Here is what a blind candidate profile could look like. This particular example is created within Pinpoint but there’s other software available to help with blind hiring. You’ll notice that, instead of a candidate’s name and information, you see that candidate presented as ‘Pink Peas’, with an icon rather than photo, and only the relevant information to the role presented.

Blind Hiring Within an ATS

What are the limitations of blind hiring?

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

Problems occur when organizations turn to blind recruiting as a “fix-all” for improving diversity. There is no way that blind recruiting will solve your whole diversity problem on its own and it can even create more diversity problems in some cases. For example:

Quotas:
If you have specific quotas around diversity, the results of blind hiring may not help you to meet them. For example, if you use blind hiring when shortlisting candidates, it’s not possible to create shortlists that are equally split by gender. Whether or not that’s a good thing is a topic for another day!

Time:
If you don’t use an applicant tracking system that incorporates
blind recruitment software, you will need to manually obfuscate the personal information from applications and resumes. This will be massively time-consuming if you receive a large number of applications and could delay your recruitment process, meaning an increase in time to hire.

Applicant pool:
Blind recruiting doesn’t automatically result in a more diverse range of applicants. Improving the diversity of your workforce also involves well-thought-through recruitment marketing and proper management of your employer brand.

Interviewing:
Blind recruitment only works during the pre-interview selection process. Once candidates arrive for interview, conscious and unconscious bias can still creep in. That’s why we recommend using
interview scorecards to make the interview process as fair and objective as possible.

That said, if you are attracting objectively good candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds and believe that bias in the selection process is causing good candidates to be rejected, blind hiring can be massively helpful.

And despite there being well-publicized examples of blind recruitment trials that backfired, blind hiring can still help even when trying to meet diversity quotas. It just needs to be applied in the right way. For example, if an organization is looking to meet a gender diversity quota, the in-house recruitment team could put forward equal-split shortlists to hiring managers with blind hiring used by the hiring managers when reviewing the shortlist.

What are the best blind hiring statistics?

Blind Hiring Statistics

How do I get started with blind recruiting?

  1. Begin by thinking through your objectives. As we’ve already discussed, there’s a big difference between how you’d approach the goal of reducing bias in your recruiting vs the goal of improving diversity as a whole.
  2. Think through how your goals will affect which parts of the hiring process blind recruiting should apply to. Will it be just at the point of hiring manager review or will it be used as part of the process to shortlist candidates?
  3. You’ll also want to monitor how blind recruiting affects your hiring decisions. Set benchmarks before you start, then review over time to determine whether blind hiring is working for you.

How does Pinpoint’s blind hiring feature work?

If you are searching for an applicant tracking system to help make the task of attracting, hiring, and retaining great talent easier for your in-house recruiters, then it’s worth mentioning that Pinpoint has an inbuilt blind recruiting feature.

You can enable blind recruiting on a job-by-job basis. 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
Jess Stanier
Jess Stanier
Jess loves working with great people and growing businesses. She's excited by being able to make a real difference for the companies she works for. Communications is the common thread that runs through every role she's had, and is what she's really passionate about.