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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is blind hiring

Blind hiring, or blind recruitment, refers to the act of reducing bias in the hiring process by hiding parts of information about a job candidate. This can include information such as a candidate’s name, age, and gender.

Blind recruitment definition

Blind recruiting involves any steps taken by a hiring manager or recruiter to hide candidate information to reduce potential bias. When blind hiring any personal details that are not relevant to the candidate’s suitability for a role, but that might (subconsciously) influence the hiring decision, are taken out of the process.

The goal is to create a fairer process in which candidates are selected based on their skills and relevant experience rather than on unrelated traits. The implementation of a blind hiring process is generally part of the wider diversity recruiting strategy of a company.

Blind hiring process best practices

Implementing a blind hiring process involves taking certain steps to reduce the chance of potential biases guiding hiring decisions. The following steps are generally included in a blind hiring process.

Note that these steps are preceded by other diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) methods, including:

Define a goal

As with most organisational processes, it’s important to start by setting a clear goal. Why are you implementing a blind hiring process, and what is it you want to achieve? This will help you keep track of whether your blind hiring efforts are actually having the desired results.

For instance, your blind hiring goal could be to reduce the gap between the number of women versus the number of men working in your Technology team by 10% over the course of 6 months.

Decide on hiring criteria

Next, you should determine what information is relevant (and what isn’t) for the hiring process.

This often starts by anonymizing the resumes of candidates and filtering out what is clearly not essential. In most cases, any type of demographic data will be irrelevant to a candidate’s suitability for the job. Some common factors to strip from your hiring process:

  • Name: Studies have shown that “white-sounding” names tend to receive more call-backs compared to “black-sounding” names. Similarly, men are generally more likely to be hired than women even if their qualifications are identical.
  • Photo: It is still common in many countries for applicants to include a picture of themselves in their CV. However, someone’s physical appearance can (subconsciously) influence a hiring manager’s decision to hire or not.
  • Dates: If you know when someone attended a school, you can (roughly) deduce their age. Studies have shown this can result in ageism and related bias.
  • Location: Where someone lives can not only give you an indication of their income, but also of their ethnic background and age.
  • Education: Aside from hiding the dates someone attended school or university, you can also hide the name of the institution. Having gone to a prestigious university doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is great at their job. It can, however, indicate economic background, ethnic background, and geographical location.
  • Language: Unless essential for the job role (e.g. when hiring a Translator or a Tour Guide) you should strip language information. This indicates nationality or cultural background, which can result in biased decisions.
  • Writing style: The way someone’s CV or cover letter is written can tell you something about the candidate’s background, which can result in bias. This part can be more difficult to filter out of the hiring process (more on this below).

Aside from hiding these pieces of information, you should also consider what skills are truly essential for the job, and which ones aren’t. This will most likely be a mix of both soft and hard skills.

To learn more about skill-based hiring rather than role-based hiring, check out our article on hiring for roles vs. hiring for skills.

There are several methods that you can use to filter out all this information, including using paid tools like Blendoor.

Alternatively, you can solve this manually and internally, for example by:

  • Having someone other than the hiring manager filter through the CVs first to establish a fairer shortlisting process.
  • Stating your hiring criteria clearly in your job advert, so candidates already filter out some information for you.
  • Creating a custom application form on your website (or in JOIN’s Build feature) rather than having candidates send over their CV or cover letter.
  • Implementing an inclusive screening process. This can include a pre-assessment test based on skills, a personality type test, or having candidates fill out pre-screening questions.

Note that this pre-screening should never include looking someone up on LinkedIn or other social media. Not only will this make you much more prone to bias, but it can in some cases even violate data privacy regulations (like GDPR).

Stay blind for as long as possible

The longer you can keep the hiring process blind and anonymous, the more you will reduce subconscious biases influencing decisions.

That’s why some companies have introduced blind interviews as part of their interview process. This could be in the form of sending interview questions rather than scheduling a face-to-face interview. Another method is by holding a phone interview first, although someone’s voice can already signal a certain background.

Do note that these methods may work as an extra anti-bias layer within your interview process, but they probably can’t replace the process. Meaning, at the end of the day, you will have to have a face-to-face interview with a potential candidate to get to know them. But adding a blind interview step can help reduce potential bias earlier on in the process.

Measure, analyse, and reflect

Lastly, you should continuously keep track of your hiring efforts and whether you are reaching your goals:

  • Do you notice any changes due to the blind hiring process?
  • Have you eliminated certain biases from the decision-making process?
  • Is there still more that you can do or anything that might be improved?

In addition, you should simultaneously keep expanding your efforts outside of hiring as well. Ultimately, your blind hiring process should become part of your company’s holistic diversity recruiting process.

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