3 Ways Blind Hiring Reduces Unconscious Bias In Recruitment

3 Ways Blind Hiring Reduces Unconscious Bias In Recruitment

This article has been updated on March 7th, 2023.

Anonymity might be the only way to guarantee a truly diverse workforce that organizations are striving to attract. A diverse labor force—diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, thinking style, and disability—means more creativity and innovation, a broad spectrum of perspectives on problem-solving, positive performance, lesser attrition, greater market share, and higher revenues.

In 2023, you can no longer put diversifying your workforce on the back burner; it has become a priority for employers if they want to attract and retain top-tier talent.

The new generations of potential candidates highly value workplace diversity. 40% of tech employers surveyed in Lever’s DEI Report say candidates are looking for more inclusive, diverse work cultures.

Recruiters seeking to level the playing field and prevent discrimination of all kinds need to step up their hiring game. Consequently, they are increasingly shifting to the “blind hiring” approach.

Read on to find out all about blind hiring, why it’s an effective way to cut down on hiring biases, and how technology can help you carry out blind hiring effectively.

What is blind hiring?

Hiding all personal information of a candidate including names, photos, addresses, education, hobbies, etc from the hiring manager is called blind hiring. This is done to ensure that a candidate is assessed and selected on ability and skills alone. Instead of being unconsciously biased by where they came from, their gender, or their pedigree.

For instance, let’s look at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s blind audition process in the 1950s. Claire Cain Miller’s article in the New York Times Magazine explores this idea in depth. Long story short, in the 1970s, the Boston Symphony Orchestra decided to test the results of blind auditions.

Back then, white men dominated orchestras. The judges had no idea who was auditioning as both male and female musicians, were asked to audition behind screens.

Once anonymity was embraced, the results were a lot fairer than before. Women musicians became more likely hires than men (between 25-46%). Now that’s a much more level playing field than before!

In the same vein, organizations have taken a leaf out of the  Boston Symphony concept. They have integrated “blind elements” in various stages of their hiring process. Blind hiring techniques include blind resume screening, blind pre-employment testing, and blind interviewing.

If done correctly, this method can greatly reduce the effect of cognitive biases on hiring decisions.

A 10-Step Diversity Hiring Handbook | FREE EBOOK

How do tech recruiting tools help you make fairer hiring decisions

Recruiting software platforms like Blendoor and HackerEarth help you implement blind recruiting accurately. There are three options to help improve workforce diversity through this recruiting technique:

Blind screening

To minimize discriminatory recruiting barriers, remove information that reveals the candidate’s race, gender, age, names of schools, links to social media, hobbies, etc. This technique helps mitigate unconscious bias and “first impressions” that creep into hiring decisions.

Tools like Blendoor exclude revealing data from resumes and CVs like:

  • Candidate’s name
  • Candidate’s headshot
  • Candidate’s education
  • Candidate’s zip code/address
  • Candidate’s hobbies or personal interests
  • Candidate’s age and other biographical info

Blind pre-employment testing

Blind hiring with HackerEarth

Recruiters use pre-hiring screens such as cognitive aptitude tests, coding assessments, personality assessments, sample job tasks, or language proficiency tests to evaluate applicants depending on the job role.

Pre-employment testing is fair, saves you time and money, and gives you data that ensures you have made legally defensible hiring decisions. It allows candidates to showcase their talent in a controlled environment.

Say, you want to hire a Java developer. You have tons of resumes where one candidate looks as “attractive” as the next in terms of qualifications. You can easily conduct an automated coding challenge for programmers.

For example, a platform such as HackerEarth Assessments offers the option to mask the personally identifiable information (PII) of candidates to anonymize screening. Companies can create highly accurate coding assessments with minimal technical know-how by choosing from a rich library of 17,000+ questions across 900+ skills.

Blind hiring with HackerEarth Assessments

Also read: Tips to Identify and Remove Unintended Bias In the Assessment Process

Blind video interviewing

Blind hiring with HackerEarth FaceCode

This is perhaps the most difficult to achieve in terms of anonymizing a candidate, recruiters use chats or written Q&A tests to hire. Additionally, there are tools that allow for blind interviews by obscuring the candidate’s identity and/or using voice masking technology.

Blind hiring with HackerEarth FaceCode

Our intelligent coding interview platform, FaceCode supports your pursuit of truly unbiased tech recruitment. FaceCode allows you to mask any and all candidate PII at the flick of the switch, before or during a live coding interview as seen above.

How effective is blind hiring?

5 Statistics That Show How Impactful Blind Hiring Can Be

As the numbers show, hiding personal candidate information does have a positive impact on resume screening. The Boston Symphony experiment opened up more doors than before for women musicians and reduced gender bias.

Another study shows that candidates who change their first names to make it sound more “white” have a higher chance of being shortlisted for the next round than those who don’t.

So yes, blind hiring is effective—to an extent. It maximizes chances for a more diverse candidate pool to get through the initial screening process. But experts are divided on the efficacy of blind hiring to reduce the overall bias and promote objective evaluation of skills.

Most employers worldwide are focusing on bettering the diversity ratio at their workplaces. And blind hiring is one of the various strategies they are relying on to address issues such as discrimination, a homogenous workforce, and attrition.

Still, putting all your eggs in one basket and expecting it to solve your diversity hiring problems is simply not enough. You have to do so much more for moving the needle on your diversity initiatives.

Some additional ways for your organization to reduce recruiters’ bias include:

  • Write gender-fluid tech job descriptions so that they attract candidates from minorities and underrepresented groups in tech
  • Use blind hiring tools to hide personally identifiable information (PII) of candidates on job applications and résumés.
  • Consider using blind recruiting software like HackerEarth that allows you to objectively assess developers with ease, solely based on their skills
  • Evaluate candidates based on pre-defined scoring parameters and standard interview questions
  • Ensure in having an interview panel that is diverse and brings multiple perspectives to the table
  • Focus on building a company culture where inclusion is at the heart of everything you do
  • Train employees/managers about the common hiring biases and how to lead inclusively

Take the first step to increasing diversity with blind hiring

Blind hiring may not be the “end all be all” for reducing discrimination in tech. But it is a great starting point for building a more inclusive workforce.

At least as a “first cut”, anonymous recruitment methods can positively impact hiring. They enable you to objectively screen and push the right applicants through the door. Blind recruiting can prevent you from missing out on qualified candidates.

Bias can occur at any and every stage of the recruiting cycle be it at the interview stage or the final decision-making stage. Then, companies can go about fixing errors due to flawed human judgment. Arrange DEI training sessions, create a diverse interview panel, and conduct workshops on unconscious bias.

Here are a few resources to help you meaningfully diversify your workforce and recruit unbiased –

  1. For those looking to build a diverse engineering team – we have a free template for you to pick and choose from this list of diversity-focused interview questions so you can conduct the best interviews and make objective hiring choices
  2. For those looking to bake blind pre-employment testing into their hiring – we performed an exercise to determine if there was any bias in HackerEarth Assessments against people from different ethnicities, races, and genders and if there was a disparate impact
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