Blind hiring is the practice of concealing parts of a job applicant’s identity from the hiring manager to reduce unconscious bias during the hiring process.
Companies can implement blind hiring practices to increase diversity at their company and always make sure they’re hiring the right candidate.
Did you know that diverse work teams deliver 60% better results? It’s true. Focusing on inclusion for team members that are of different genders, ages, races, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and other identity markers can help your company produce better results.
But try as we may to hire diverse candidates and practice diversity at work, sometimes companies can get into a rut of hiring people who look or think the same. Apart from writing an inclusive job description, there are other ways you can diversify your hiring process to be more welcoming.
That’s where blind hiring comes in.
Blind hiring is when an interviewer takes steps to conceal aspects of an applicant’s identity through the hiring process. This can mean concealing the applicant’s age, race, address, or other potential biases from the hiring manager. This process aims to “blind” the interviewer so they can’t make any judgements about the applicant based on their identity.
Companies can benefit from implementing blind hiring and working to actively hire diverse candidates. Below, we’ll detail what hiring biases are, what blinding hiring is and how you can make your company a more diverse and welcoming place to work.
What are hiring biases?
There are many ways to attract diverse candidates to your job posting, like writing an inclusive job description or posting on diverse job boards. However, there’s no guarantee that these candidates will be hired, even if they’ll make a great fit for your company.
Hiring biases can be broken up into primary and secondary identifiers that may make a hiring manager feel biased toward a candidate. The primary hiring biases are more common and obvious markers like gender, age, sexual orientation, race, or physical ability.
These are things that may be obvious to the hiring manager or can be identified at first glance at a resume or person’s appearance.
Secondary biases are things that might be more subtle markers of a person’s identity or aren’t as obvious at first sight. These could include things like education level, income, marital status, language or accent, appearance, or parental status.
These could even include hobbies — a hiring manager might learn that an applicant likes to read and begin to think they’re smarter than other candidates.
Though hiring managers may not be consciously placing judgement on applicants because of these things, it may happen naturally without them even realising it. Therefore, practicing blind hiring can help pick candidates based on their qualifications and fit for the position exclusively.
How to implement blind hiring
You can implement blind hiring practices at your company by being mindful to hide applicant’s info and taking care to hire the candidate with the best skills for the job, regardless of how they identify.
Inclusive job descriptions
Using inclusive job descriptions can help encourage diverse candidates to apply. Avoid using the terms “he” or “she,” replacing those terms with gender-neutral ones that may make people feel less singled out. Gender-neutral job descriptions have been proven to attract more candidates than those that use gendered language.
On top of that, you may want to consider writing a statement that affirms your company’s commitment to diversity and encourages applicants of all identities to apply to the position.
Blind candidate screenings
There are technologies available to help remove candidate information from their resume or application. Some of these systems remove names or photos, allowing the resume to speak for itself.
Another option is to forego the resume screening altogether and instead opt to screen candidates using a skills assessment or questionnaire that can judge an applicant based solely on their responses to determine their fit for the company.
Avoid social media
Social media can be a great tool for connection, but it can also lead to unconscious bias during the interview and application process. If the hiring manager checks out an applicant’s LinkedIn or other social media profiles, they may develop opinions on their life or appearance and judge them accordingly.
Avoiding social media can help hiring managers focus solely on the applicant’s application itself.
Diversify hiring staff
If your application process involves several steps and interviews with several different people, those involved should come from different backgrounds themselves.
This can not only serve to make diverse candidates more comfortable during the interview process, but it can also help give the hiring staff a more well-rounded perspective on each applicant.
Standardize interview questions
Meeting with a potential candidate face-to-face or speaking over the phone can bring with it new opportunities for bias. Preparing a list of standardised questions can help you maintain your commitment to blind hiring.
Try asking each candidate the same questions, avoiding too many personal topics. That isn’t to say you can’t have a friendly conversation with a candidate to make them feel welcomed and showcase your culture, but try not to touch on potentially sensitive topics.
Anonymous initial interviewing
You can anonymise the initial interview screening to reduce any bias that might arise from the applicant’s appearance or voice. Though a phone, video, or in-person meeting will inevitably be necessary down the line, you can start by keeping things anonymous.
One way to keep these initial interviews anonymous is by conducting the screenings interview over email, sending applicants a Q&A that they can send back. You could also use a chat box to talk to the applicant without having to talk to them personally.
Educate your hiring team
Most companies can benefit from diversity training, especially those who are committed to blind hiring. Teach your employees about what unconscious biases are and how to identify them, then how to combat that thinking.
Make sure to touch on logistical questions versus personal questions that your hiring team can ask during the interview process.
Assessments not resumes
Switching to a pre-employment assessment rather than a resume can help companies gauge how fit a company is for the role without a resume that could include potentially sensitive information. These assessments can include relevant information that pertains to the job, such as hypothetical scenarios or experience-related queries.
The tests don’t need to include qualifying information like age or even name, which can reduce bias.
What are the benefits of blind hiring?
Most notably: a positive work culture and environment that makes all employees feel safe. A positive culture means genuine connections among your employees and an inclusive working environment where everyone employed feels comfortable and supported while on the job.
But beyond the benefits of just creating a more welcoming and inclusive workplace, blind hiring can also have several other benefits that are both financial and having to do with employee engagement and productivity.
Productive teams deliver better results. And what’s more, 83% of millennials — a large chunk of the modern-day workforce — say they are more likely to be engaged and feel productive at work if they work for a diverse and welcoming company.
Financially, companies that practice diversity report higher revenue — 15 percent higher revenue and sales. And diverse companies even report that their diverse workforce has allowed them to enter into a new market and secure more business.
With all those upsides, it seems almost like a no-brainer to commit to being a more diverse company. And the first step to getting there starts with the hiring process.
What are the downsides to blind hiring?
Some believe that blind hiring isn’t a strong enough commitment to diversity. Rather than simply hiding personal details of an applicant from the hiring managers, some believe that companies should actively seek out diverse candidates and hire them to strengthen the company’s diverse employee pool.
Some also feel that blind hiring practices make it harder for employers to look at referrals from their current employees. Some companies give referral bonuses to current employees or advance candidates based on referrals. When concealing candidate information, it makes it harder for hiring managers to get input from current employees about people they think would fit the role.
You may also find that blind hiring can make it harder for an applicant’s personality to shine through during their interview process.
Some candidates express themselves through their personality and might be a fit even if they don’t seem to shine on paper. Keeping the interview process blind may reduce the chance for recruiters to feel like they’ve gotten to know the candidates.
To combat these downsides, hiring managers can also be mindful that blind hiring isn’t a catch-all solution for improvising diversity. It is just one step of many that can be made to make your company a more inclusive place to work. But even so, hiring managers should tailor assessment questions to learn more about the candidate without learning potentially sensitive information.
Blind hiring can be a useful tool that allows hiring managers to find the right fit for the job without any unconscious bias.
There are many ways to implement blind hiring in your interview process, including avoiding the applicant’s social media profiles and removing their name, photo, and other identifying information from their resume or online application.
About the Author
Emily is a content creator for Thimble living in Austin, Texas. Her work focuses on small business, entrepreneurship, and how SMB owners and thinkers can make their businesses thrive. When she isn’t researching advice for business owners, you can find her outside camping or hiking.