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The Recruitment Process: Pros and Cons of Blind Hiring

Contributed by: Pauline Farris

The Recruitment Process: Pros and Cons of Blind Hiring Israel Weinstein; Tamika Johnson; Bob Jones; Ahmed Ak; Juanita Cortez; Ngyun Mingh; Sameer Patel.

Each of these names gives a recruiter key information about gender and ethnicity. Other information in a resume also reveals such things as the candidate’s neighborhood and age (based upon years of work experience or graduation).

While we all like to believe that we are blind to these pieces of personal information, there are subconscious biases in all areas of living and work, and the recruitment and hiring process is no different.

Recruiters and employment managers post position openings, request resumes, and then screen them until they have narrowed the field to just a few for interviews. Because of subconscious biases, this process sets them up for making decisions based on gender, age, and socioeconomic status.

Types of Biases

Perhaps the most prevalent bias, although subconscious, relates to our desire to employ someone “just like us”. So, when recruiters see resume information that indicates otherwise, their subconscious influences their interest in the candidate.

There are other smaller biases that creep in.

In an attempt to reduce biases, there is a new buzz afoot in HR departments – blind hiring.

What is Blind Hiring?

Blind hiring is the removal of any details on a resume that might be subject to bias. These include the following:

  • Names and addresses
  • Previous employers
  • Colleges and universities attended

The focus instead is on skills, talents, and abilities, and these are evaluated as objectively as possible. Rather than submit resumes for position openings, interested candidates will instead complete batteries of assessments, work samples, and such.

While this is currently being used by small and medium-sized companies, even giants like IBM and Deloitte are considering at least eliminating the personal information in applicant materials.

The question remains, however, whether this is simply the newest “fad” or trend or whether it will take hold and make resumes a thing of the past.

The verdict is still out on blind hiring, and there are certainly pros and cons.

The Pros of Blind Hiring

Obviously, the main benefit of blind hiring is that all candidates are judged by exactly the same factors – the specific skills and abilities that they bring to the table. Proponents note these other benefits:

  1. Blind hiring can promote greater diversity in the workplace because no recruiter or hiring manager will screen for candidates who look like them.
  2. Blind hiring is considered more “scientific” because it provides the same assessments for every candidate. Often, during the preliminary telephone interview, interviewers may ask different questions of candidates based upon biases that pop up during those conversations. The interview process thus loses its objectivity. As the interviewee reveals personal information, the hiring manager makes subconscious decision based on biases. This all occurs before the hiring manager makes her final selection for face-to-face interviews. On the other hand, if those selected for the final interview process are selected fully on the objective assessments, the top 3-4 candidates will actually be those on top of the job requirements.
  3. Blind hiring eliminates the “who do you know” practice that is often used by hiring managers, and, instead, opens up the field to other candidates who may actually possess higher skill levels.

The Cons of Blind Hiring

There are certainly those who believe that blind hiring is just a fad and that, in the long term, it will not have staying power.

  1. Blind hiring can actually hinder diversity in hiring. Many organizations seek out minority candidates in the hiring process as part of their commitment to affirmative action. When recruiters do not have the option of knowing personal information, they cannot actively pursue diversity.
  2. Blind hiring does not take into account the need to find a “cultural” fit between a candidate and an organization. Just knowing the organizations a candidate has worked for in the past can provide good clues about the type of work environment in which a candidate has been successful.
  3. Blind hiring could wipe out the often-used practice of referrals. Many managers and executives announce within their networking associations that they are looking for someone to fill a position. They put great stock in the referrals they get from colleagues and usually interview such individuals. Of course, that referral alone provides a bias.

Is Blind Hiring the Next HR Disruption?

As stated, the verdict is still out. While it may be challenging for organizations to incorporate blind hiring practices, there are benefits, especially for certain positions. Consider the need to employ a full-time contracted employee who may actually work remotely on his own. Fitting into the work place “culture” may not be a factor the way skill levels will be.

On the other hand, when personal information reveals that a candidate has gone to the same college as the hiring manager or has worked for a company that the manager holds in high esteem, the biases do surface, and that candidate enjoys better prospects for employment.

Clearly, as more employers decide to at least experiment with blind hiring, resumes will become things of the past. Instead, candidates will see with more objective assessments. Their backgrounds, accomplishments, and references become less important too, and may only come to play in the final interview stage.

And for Those Organizations that Choose Not to “Blind Hire”

Whether you plan to hire blind or not, the discussion itself could reveal some benefits. Being aware of our innate biases can help us to become more mindful of those biases and work harder to counter them.

Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Italian and currently works as a translator at translation service TheWordPoint. She traveled the world to immerse herself in new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.



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