Blind Hiring: What It Is & How to Reduce Bias in the Hiring Process
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Blind hiring involves removing any unnecessary identifying information about a candidate from all stages of the hiring process. This can include information that identifies an applicant’s race, ethnicity, gender, or any identifying class, protected or otherwise.
When reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and making hiring decisions, blinding the information (e.g., making it anonymous) removes conscious and unconscious bias from the hiring process and allows for a more objective consideration of a candidate’s qualifications, experience, and skills. The end result is the most qualified candidate for your position and a more diverse workforce.
Steps to Creating a Blind Hiring Process
Establishing a blind hiring process starts with making sure you remove any bias from your job descriptions and employment ads. Then you’ll perform a blind review of resumes and applications, use skill assessments, and conduct a blind interview, before making your final hiring decision.
Did You Know?
A recent survey cites that the majority of responding employers (86%) report using new approaches (such as blind hiring techniques) to reach and hire a more diverse group of people.
1. Create Bias-free Job Descriptions & Employment Ads
How you write job descriptions and employment ads sets the tone for the recruitment process in general. Thoughtfully reviewing them for bias-free and inclusive language will set you and your candidates up for success as the hiring process unfolds. Some things to keep in mind when writing your job descriptions include:
- Avoid “gendered” job titles and instead use gender-neutral ones (e.g., use Chairperson instead of Chairman).
- Avoid using words like “cultural fit” and instead use phrases that play to the values of your company.
- Avoid using any language that can be considered a racial bias.
- Avoid using phrases like “native English speaking” and instead use terms like “strong English skills required.”
- Avoid using language that may create an age bias, such as “young.”
- Avoid language that can deter disabled individuals from applying.
By being clear and concise, you can ensure that you attract the best candidates for the job. Remember to keep the needs of the company in mind while writing job descriptions, and be sure to use positive language to attract qualified applicants.
2. Blind Review Resumes & Applications
The resume reviewing process is the first real opportunity to assess individual candidates based on their skill sets, qualifications, and education. Blinding this part of the process can look different for each organization. The main point is to develop blinds around identifying information, such as background, gender, name, education (dates and institution), age, personal interests, photos, etc.
Have another team member who isn’t involved in the hiring decision (e.g., HR, recruiter, etc.) vet each candidate’s information based on skills and experience. Your HR team can block out any areas of the resume that do not relate directly to the candidate’s work history, experience, and education (degrees). We recommend removing or blacking out the text that needs to be kept from the team of resume reviewers instead of just crossing it out.
For anonymous resume reviews, we suggest using recruiting software like ZipRecruiter, which filters resumes based on specific criteria such as skills, job titles, or education levels.
3. Perform Pre-employment Skill Assessment
Pre-employment testing is an excellent way to remove biases and ensure that the best possible candidates are hired. Furthermore, this can help to identify potential issues early on in the hiring process, which can save both the employer and the candidate time and money.
Pre-employment testing involves skill assessment testing and written behavior-based questions to assess a candidate’s skills, abilities, and qualities. They can be used for a variety of purposes such as screening out candidates, determining the level of education an individual has attained, and measuring an individual’s skills. They are a valuable tool that can help employers make informed decisions about who to hire.
To remain inclusive, if a skill assessment test is taken by one candidate, then all candidates within the same hiring phase for the same job opportunity should also take the test. This ensures that all candidates have an equal opportunity to move on to the next step.
4. Conduct Preliminary & Blind Interviews
While it can be challenging to create blinds during the interview process, one way is to conduct pre-interview phone screenings. Pre-screening telephone interviews can offer some blinding to candidates’ identities when conducted by a non-hiring team member. But use this with caution as the interviewer could potentially form a bias based on the way the candidate speaks.
You can also send your candidates a pre-recorded video interview. Some video interviewing software allows for questions to be recorded and candidates to provide their answers on video. This could help with removing some bias since there is no interaction between the interviewer and candidate at this stage. However, use this type of interview with caution as well since the reviewer of the video can also form a bias based on the candidate’s age, sex, race, etc.
During the latter interview stages, don’t rely on just individual interviews. It is recommended that for each candidate you conduct a panel interview. Have the panel complete individual interview evaluation forms and then compare notes. This can reduce biases as you are getting input from a more diverse group.
Hiring managers should avoid looking at candidates’ LinkedIn or other social media accounts when considering who to interview, as this could lead to strong biases.
5. Make the Final Hiring Decision
The final stage of the hiring process is often the most biased. With so much on the line, employers can be quick to make decisions that are based on personal biases. There are ways to reduce bias during this stage, and it can have a big impact on the quality of the hiring process.
- Have a clear job description. This will help to ensure that all candidates are being considered with the same criteria.
- Access candidates objectively. Continue to focus only on the candidates’ skills, education, and experience.
- Have clear hiring goals in place. By having a strong process—that includes blind resume reviewing, pre-assessments, and pre-screening interviews—you can eliminate biases by the time you reach the final decision stage.
Benefits of a Blind Hiring Process
A blind hiring process can have many benefits for both employers and employees. By removing the potential for bias (we’ll discuss some common biases below), employers can find the best candidates for the job; employees, on the other hand, can feel confident that they were hired based on their qualifications and not their personal connections. Additionally, without any preconceived notions about who should be hired, the hiring process can be more objective and unbiased. Blind hiring benefits include:
- Reducing or eliminating unconscious bias, which can lead to discrimination
- Ensuring all candidates are given an equal opportunity, regardless of their age, sex, race, etc.
- Allowing for more diverse perspectives to be considered, which can lead to better decision-making
- Creating a more candid and honest interview process
- Leading to better hires who are more suited for the job and company culture
Take note that a blind hiring process, while good for your organization, is not a guarantee against workplace discrimination. However, by taking the necessary steps to create an anonymous hiring process and environment, your organization can benefit from a more diverse and qualified workforce.
Common Hiring Biases
The most common hiring biases are either conscious bias (ones that you are cognitively aware of) or unconscious bias (ones that you are not necessarily aware of). Knowing and understanding the different types of hiring biases can help you establish blind hiring techniques during the applicant screening and interviewing process.
Blind hiring practices are not required by law; however, discriminating against job applicants, intended or unintended, is against the law in most cases. For this reason, blind hiring can help your mind focus on the facts of an applicant by removing other data that should not be used when making hiring decisions.
Blind hiring is a great way to reduce the chances of discrimination in the workplace while still allowing for the best candidates to be hired. It is also a way to keep the hiring process fair and unbiased. By using blind hiring techniques, companies can ensure that they are getting the most qualified employees for the job.