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How Does Blind Recruitment Work?

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Posted by: David Garcia February 12, 2023

Reducing bias in hiring is an important shift happening in the world of recruitment. While HR teams may not consciously hold any bias against a certain age, race, gender, education, or other identification details, unconscious bias can still be present. When not managed, it can significantly impact the hiring process.

How can you ensure job candidates get the position due to merit, skill, and experience rather than anything else? Blind recruitment is one method used to reduce unconscious bias and ensure that job applicants are judged fairly on their qualifications alone. 

Blind recruitment tackles unconscious bias to create a more level playing field within the hiring process. Learn the benefits it offers and how to implement it into your recruitment process. 

What Is Blind Recruitment?

Blind recruitment is an approach to reviewing job applicants that removes personal information such as first and last names, schools attended, and other identifiable details. This omission prevents recruiters from becoming biased by information outside the job requirements. 

Instead, recruiters evaluate candidates based on factors directly related to the job.

Learn more about the identification details eliminated during blind recruitment:

Names

People with short, simple names that are easy to pronounce often get hired more easily than those with complicated names. One study even found that people with Asian names—specifically Chinese, Indian, or Pakistani names—were 28% less likely to get an interview than those with Anglo last names.

Redacting the names or omitting them in the application review stage removes any bias regarding names.

Race and Ethnicity

A blind recruitment process removes any markers of race and ethnicity to prevent biases or prejudices against candidates from specific backgrounds.

Gender

Omitting the gender of the job applicant ensures female candidates don’t get overlooked in favor of male counterparts with similar qualifications. 

In other situations, hiring managers may be more likely to work with people of their gender or hold opinions about some jobs being “meant” more for men or women. Eliminating their name removes this from the equation.

Education

Concealing the education of job candidates prevents any opinion on the quality or prestige of the college they attended. It helps ensure the recruiters judge applicants for their knowledge and experience rather than where they studied (or didn’t).

Age

While years of experience will provide some clue as to their age, hiring managers don’t need to know the exact time frames of job positions or the year someone graduated from college.

What Is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias refers to people’s unconscious judgments and ideas about others based on their background or identity. Everyone has unconscious biases, whether they know it or not. 

The life you live, your experiences, and the culture you’re a part of unknowingly influence your thinking. These biases can impact the decisions you make and the assumptions you have.

While these biases are often harmless, they can influence decision-making, leading to potential workplace discrimination.

How Does Unconscious Bias Affect Hiring Decisions?

Hiring managers can be vulnerable to making biased decisions because they are often short on time with piles of resumes to sort through and pressure to decide quickly.

To get through their tasks quicker, HR managers revert to their System 1 brain, which operates quickly and automatically with minimal effort. This intuitive thinking is thanks to the collection of past experiences, judgments, and knowledge you can easily tap into to make quick decisions.

While in System 1 mode, the recruiter may make hiring decisions without considering unconscious bias. Job candidates may be judged based on factors that have nothing to do with their qualifications. It can lead to potential discrimination, such as hiring individuals from a particular background or age group over others, even if they are less qualified for the job.

Work discrimination is illegal and can have severe consequences for businesses. It’s crucial to take steps to reduce unconscious bias during recruitment.

The goal of counteracting the unconscious bias present in your System 1 thinking is to move into System 2 thinking. 

System 2 requires more effort and attention to work through complex decisions. One way to get to system 2 is by removing any identifying information (like name, photos, age, gender, or ethnicity) that may be judged by your unconscious biases in System 1—thus, allowing hiring managers to think more clearly and objectively.

How Does Blind Recruitment Reduce Bias?

Biases or inclinations are a trait of survival. You make decisions by leaning on what you know and think from other contexts. It helped our ancestors learn to avoid predators, but it can wreak havoc when brought into the hiring space.

Biases may not seem harmful, but they can lead to discrimination, further harming underrepresented groups, especially during the talent acquisition process.

By blocking identifying information from resumes, CVs, cover letters, and application questionnaires, hiring managers must make decisions based on the candidate’s qualifications, relevant experience, and skills rather than other factors.

What Are the Advantages of Blind Recruitment?

Blind recruitment offers several advantages for employers and applicants alike. It creates an equal hiring opportunity, ensures compliance with legal hiring practices, allows HR teams to focus on work-related qualifications, and more:

  • More qualified candidates are considered—By eliminating factors such as gender, race, age, or educational background, hiring managers can focus on the skills and experience and assess them for their qualifications rather than preconceived notions based on an individual’s identity.
  • More accurate assessments—By removing any potential determinants of bias, recruiters can make more fair and accurate evaluations of candidates.
  • A level playing field for all applicants—Blind recruitment creates a fairer environment where everyone has an equal chance for a job based only on their qualifications.
  • Compliance with legal hiring practices—Blind recruitment eliminates any chance of selection bias and discrimination, helping employers ensure they are compliant with legal hiring practices and keeping them clear of any lawsuits.

What Are the Disadvantages of Blind Recruitment?

Blind recruitment is not without its drawbacks. Instead of confronting bias head-on, it simply avoids the fact of the matter. While it may remove bias from the hiring process, it does nothing to tackle the bias that may still be present after hiring someone when the information omitted about them comes to light. Additional disadvantages of blind recruitment may also include the following:

  • Time-consuming—Removing identifying information from resumes and applications takes time if not done automatically by a machine.
  • Cost—Blind recruitment often requires additional resources to anonymize documents, primarily when purchasing machines to speed up the process.
  • Challenging to implement—It may take a significant amount of effort and planning to introduce blind recruitment into your hiring process successfully.
  • A potential lack of diversity—By removing all identifying information, blind recruitment could inadvertently reduce the pool of diverse talent. Ideally, you want a mix of cultures, ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities to create a well-rounded work environment.
  • The bias remains after hiring—Biases may surface after the fact and can lead to issues in the workplace if avoided rather than addressed.

How to Introduce Blind Recruitment Into Your Hiring Process

Blind recruitment is a powerful tool that can help ensure fairer and more accurate hiring decisions. Here are some steps you can take to introduce blind recruitment into your hiring process:

Identify Any Potential Biases

It’s essential to be aware of the existing biases that may be present in your workplace. Consider the workplace demographics to see if your workplace is overrepresented by a specific group. 

Another option is to conduct a workplace climate survey to identify potential biases based on age, photos, name, education, ethnicity, gender, or address. 

Name is often the first thing to go, but biases can come to light through other information such as educational institution or ethnicity.

Create a Blind Recruitment Policy

Once you have identified any potential problems within your hiring process, it is crucial to create a blind recruitment policy. This document will outline the procedures and rules for anonymizing documents during the hiring process. It should also explain the importance of eliminating any pre-selection bias.

Your policy is yours and should reflect what your company most values in new hires. One idea to ensure the best candidates are selected is to use scoring criteria to help rate candidates for specific job components, such as communication, empathy, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.

Another strategy is to use work samples as a part of your application process to focus on skills. Hypothetical scenarios paired with questions such as “What would you do?” can help candidates put themselves in the role and uncover how they would behave in work-related situations.

While you may also ask about experience, those questions may ostracize candidates who haven’t been in that situation before. You’re testing for their potential in the role by asking forward-looking questions.

Utilize a Machine to Anonymize Documents

Manually removing identifying information from applications and resumes is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Use a machine to automate the task of anonymizing applications and ease the process while ensuring accuracy.

Train Hiring Managers and Recruiters

All hiring managers and recruiters must understand the importance of eliminating pre-selection bias from the recruitment process. Provide training on unconscious bias, blind recruitment practices, and why it is essential for fairness in the workplace.

Train Employees

Your existing staff should also be aware of the new policy and any changes you make to the recruitment process. Have your pre-trained managers and recruiters train the employees under them and get the entire team up to speed.

Monitor and Review the Process

Finally, it is important to monitor and review the process. Regularly check in with your team to ensure they adhere to the blind recruitment policy and procedures. 

Make sure you’re collecting feedback from candidates as well to make necessary changes or adjustments when needed.

Are your new hires what you hoped they’d be? Or do you feel something is missing from your current blind recruitment policy? Feel free to make changes to maximize equality in hiring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Blind Hiring Increase Diversity?

Using blind recruitment can increase diversity in the workplace by allowing objectivity to guide the way when evaluating a potential candidate and eliminating the risk of making decisions based on unconscious biases around age, gender, race, or any other identifying factor.

Final Thoughts

Blind recruitment is vital in eliminating unconscious bias and creating an equal workplace. You can create a fair system for all new hires with the right policies and procedures. It requires effort to ensure fairness and objectivity, but it’s well worth it.

Our fact-based screening ensures you only hire candidates based on qualifications. For more efficient recruitment, contact ScoutLogic.

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