How to Build a Diverse Workforce with Blind Hiring

Sudhanshu Ahuja

July 24, 2020

diverse workforce with blind hiring

Of all the things that organizations do for strengthening recruitment, removing bias is a crucial one. And for a good reason. Firstly, unbiased hiring provides a level field for all the candidates. Secondly, it promotes diversity. As people from different backgrounds join, they bring more values and talent to the organization. It is a known fact educating the interviewers is not always enough to remove bias. It is where blind hiring can make a difference.

The main problem is that more often than not, this bias is unconscious. Hiring managers are not aware that they are unintentionally favoring a few candidates. It impedes an organization’s efforts to hire talent and skill. When bias comes into play, the organization starts endorsing favoritism. Although it may be unintentional, in these times word travels fast. It is the reason why blind hiring is gaining steam.

  • What is blind hiring?

    Blind hiring is when the demographic details of the candidates are intentionally hidden. These details can be related to age, gender, or educational institutes. Hiding religion and socio-economic background can also make a remarkable difference. You can also remove the year of graduation if you want to hire regardless of the years spent in a field.

    When all these items are hidden, what is left is the information about the work experience. It is a way to ensure that an organization hires for capability and talent.

    When organizations practice this, interviews start on a clean slate. There are no preconceived notions or apprehensions. In their absence, the hiring managers may be willing to give a fair chance to all the applicants. On the other hand, they can reject a few due to their unconscious bias.

    We are living in times when discriminatory behavior is creating ripples across the world. Blind hiring is part of this larger change that aims at minimizing bias in the workplace. Furthermore, it encourages hiring managers to be more objective while making recruitment decisions. When they don’t know about the backgrounds, they tend to focus more on the capabilities of the candidate.

  • What causes unconscious bias?

    Our brain is capable of matching patterns. However, this pattern matching does not always give accurate results. Let’s look at an example to understand this better.

    Do you think the birthplace can make any difference while selecting candidates? Most of you would say no. What if you had an unpleasant experience in that city in the past? You may want to refute any connection, but your brain will not. It will coax you into believing that something is wrong with that CV. You may reject the person without giving the candidate a fair chance.

    It is these connections that lead the hiring managers to favor some resumes and discard the others.

  • How can you bring blind hiring into practice?

    It is a common belief that screening is the best stage to implement blind hiring methods. However, you can go all-in and make the entire process blind.

    As you start, you may find it to be a bit complex and also face resistance. However, this is just an initial hesitation. It is common when people have to do something out of their comfort zones. Once they see the value in this method, you can expect a higher rate of acceptance.

    a. Start with the job descriptions

    When you want to hire a diverse workforce, you may want to tweak your job descriptions. Look for any gender-favoring terms that may discourage women or men from applying.

    At times, the job descriptions use pronouns such as he/she in the details. It may inhibit the purpose of attracting diverse candidates. Moreover, certain words relate more to males, such as a hustler or superhero. You can replace it with a term like “perfect applicant.” Another option is to use words that define the description of the job. Such as an architect or an engineer.

    Lastly, candidates want to know if your organization appreciates diversity. They want to understand if you will consider their application wholeheartedly. A simple, friendly statement towards the end of the JD can put their concerns to rest.

    Screening is the first touch-point when the candidates enter your talent pool. To blind their personal information, you can adopt a recruitment tool. For instance, Impress is a platform that hides the personal details of the candidates. Based on AI, it screens and shortlists the candidates based on their skills and experience.

    The qualified candidates are the ones that match the job requirements. Apart from removing bias, the platform also makes the screening more objective. The recruiters can see a final list of candidates that match the job at hand. You can click here to request a demo.

    b. Blinding pre-employment tests

    Pre-employment tests bring fairness into the recruitment process. On their own, interviews cannot accurately predict the performance of a candidate.

    More often than not, the interviewers make their decisions on their gut feeling. Candidates who shine during the conversations are more likely to grab the job.

    Pre-employment tests are a reliable way of predicting on-the-job performance. Skills and aptitude tests are an indicator of the general ability of the candidates. Behavioral tests can effectively predict their reactions in real-life scenarios.

    Most of these tools are based on machine learning. If the vendors do not keep a check on it, these tools can learn from the biases of recruiters. An effective way to avoid this situation is by blinding the candidate’s information.

    c. Delaying social media screening

    It has become a common practice to screen the social media accounts of candidates. Surely, organizations can collect a lot of information from social media handles. They are particularly useful for identifying the red flags.

    However, social media accounts can give more information than required. The interviewers may even make perceptions that may cloud their judgment.

    Instead of removing this step entirely, you may want to move it further along in your process. For instance, you can do it after the first interview. As you adopt this method, you can use social media screening to be more effective.

  • Can you blind the interviews?

    Did you have to reread the previous sentence? Well, it is impossible to completely blind interviews. After all, they are mostly done in person or over the phone.

    However, there are a few roles where the candidates can be made to answer queries over emails. It can be a preliminary step but cannot replace the interviews.

    Organizations can, however, benefit from structured interviews. It calls for administering the same questions to all the candidates. As this is done, there is a better scope of bringing objectivity into recruitment. Often, hiring managers rely on the conversation to move forward during the interviews. Some candidates may get grilled more than others.

  • What are the best practices for blind hiring?

    1. Hide academic information

    As you blind the resumes, make it a point to hide every detail that may cause bias. For instance, there is no direct correlation between university scores and performance on the job. A candidate with average scores could be a high performer. Despite this, some hiring managers may use the grades to create an impression.

    Similarly, hiding the year of graduation will help in covering the age. Let the hiring managers know what the candidates studied, and that should serve the purpose.

    2. Pre-interview tests

    You may wonder how will you interview the candidates after blinding all the above information. To ensure that the interviews are productive, you need more data. You want more information to get an idea about the abilities of the candidate. An easy way to do this is by conducting pre-interview tests.

    Psychometric tests will help you in understanding the behaviors and personalities. Moreover, you may get an idea about the cultural fit.

    As you gather this information, the hiring managers will get a background of the candidates. They can ask relevant questions to evaluate the candidates and clear their doubts.

    3. Analyze diversity metrics

    Metrics will help you to verify if blind hiring is giving you the desired results. It may help to collect information at different stages of the hiring process. Collect the stats about the candidates after every stage. As you compare this data with the earlier stats, you will be able to tell the difference. We also advise comparing metrics to see if blind hiring has any effect on retention. With increasing diversity, your employees may see your organization as an inclusive one

  • Summary

    • With blind hiring techniques, you can minimize unconscious bias in hiring. It is a way to ensure that diverse candidates get a fair chance.
    • You can anonymize several steps. However, eliminating unconscious bias may take a lot more effort.
    • Blinding resumes promote objective hiring where the interviewers assess candidates on their skills.
    • You can use recruitment software and pre-employment tests to strengthen blind hiring.
    • Finally, analyzing metrics is essential to weigh the success of your efforts.

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