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.
Recruiters seeking to level the playing field and prevent discrimination of all kinds are increasingly taking the “blind hiring” approach. In blind hiring, a candidate is assessed on ability alone. No personal or demographic information is made available to the recruiting managers.
What is blind hiring?
Taking a leaf out of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) blind audition process in the 1950s, organizations have integrated “blind elements” in various stages of their hiring process. Blind hiring techniques include blind screening, blind pre-employment testing, and blind interviewing.
In blind screening, information that reveals the candidate’s race, gender, age, names of schools, links to social media, hobbies, etc. is removed to minimize discriminatory recruiting barriers. This technique helps remove unconscious bias and “first impressions” that creep into hiring decisions. Over 90% companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) at the resume stage.
In blind pre-employment testing, recruiters use pre-hiring screens such as cognitive aptitude tests, personality assessments, sample job tasks, language proficiency tests, physical ability, or skill tests to evaluate applicants depending on the job role. In blind interviewing, which is perhaps the most difficult to achieve in terms of anonymizing a candidate, recruiters use chats or written Q&A tests to hire.
How effective is blind hiring?
Every organization needs a customized recruiting process.
“What you are trying to do by utilizing blind recruitment is get down to the real basics of the job itself,”says Azmat Mohammed, Director General of the Institute of Recruiters. “You’re after finding a person who possesses the capabilities of doing the job, not necessarily who that person is at this stage. That is the key behind it.”
Deciding what non-negotiable qualities the applicant must possess to succeed in the position will decide what information you will react to the resume. Even then, what proof do you have that all the glory details are true? This is where tests come in. These assessments are better indicators of skill than in-person interviews. Pre-employment testing is fair, saves you time and money, and gives you data that ensures you have made legally defensible hiring decisions.
Say, you want to hire a Java developer. (Also read: How to hire and assess a Java developer accurately) 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, with a platform such as Recruit which offers objective reporting, companies can remotely evaluate 1000+ candidates by creating tests based on job roles and shortlist the best for an interview. Look at other features of Recruit, used by companies such as Amazon, Target, and Symantec. Along with pre-hire assessment, the software can also help with sourcing, tracking applicants, recruiting analytics, and onboarding.
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.
Experts are divided on the efficacy of blind hiring to reduce bias and promote objective evaluation of skills. Companies will find it trying to assess cultural fit and emotional intelligence in blind auditions. Some recruiters find it impersonal and hard to implement on scale.
“It is an awesome way of removing unconscious bias in the initial selection. But all you can do is remove it in the first instance and there are very few jobs where you are going to appoint someone purely on the basis of a written submission without actually meeting them,” says Jon Williams, Global Leader, People and Organization at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
However, at least as a “first cut” anonymous recruitment methods can positively impact hiring by objectively pushing the right applicants through the door. Then, companies can go about removing errors due to flawed human judgment in promotion processes and getting diverse candidates into leadership roles. (Also read: Enabling workplace diversity through blind recruitment)
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