“What’s in a name?” – William Shakespeare
What's there in a gender, color or religion of the candidate?
That’s the premise of a practice that some businesses are using, called “blind hiring.”
Can you ditch Resumes or just throw them in the trash and find better employees for your business? Blind hiring is a trending new hiring practice to minimize unconscious bias in hiring decisions, making it easier for employers to evaluate a candidate’s abilities without being influenced by factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, and educational background. ‘Blind hiring’ focuses on a person’s talents rather than education and ethnicity.
While the world has been making huge strides toward equality, there are still potholes of discrimination or biases to be dealt with.
Eliminating the Unconscious Bias
If we look at the top end of the talent acquisition funnel, the first filter mostly is the resume. What are some of the biases that exist in resume screening which is unrelated to applicant performance? Applicant’s name, gender, color, marital status, religion, university, GPA, and other judgments made from information listed on a resume. Women, people of color, members of the LGBT community and other minorities feel alienated by job search tools that prominently display one’s name and head-shot. These filters eliminate most of the people that we perceive as having the right skills for the job versus those who can actually perform well.
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that "Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback." Despite the best of intentions, employers tend to select candidates based on the attitudes or stereotypes of the person hiring.
Unconscious bias happens by our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without realizing. The biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. We may not even be aware of these views and opinions, or be aware of their full impact and implications. One way to reduce the impact of unconscious bias is through “blind hiring,” which makes it easier for employers to evaluate a candidate’s abilities without being influenced by factors such as ethnicity or gender.
The Four squares of Blind Hiring
So, could blind hiring be used to replace the resume as the primary screener?
Blind hiring seeks to eliminate the biases by eliminating the resume and sometimes not being able to see the candidate till the interview process. This will help organizations to -
- Reduce discrimination and unconscious biases
- Build or Improve diversity
- make hiring more about actual skills than keywords on a resume
- It will generate opportunities for those who are capable of the job role but who suspects that they can be turned down for a job due to their race, sex, age, socio-economic background, or educational pedigree.
Recently, an article on Forbes covered Stephanie Lampkin, founder of Blendoor. Blendoor is a job matching tool aimed at removing gender and ethnicity from the equation. Her app lets job seekers upload resumes, and then hides their name and photo from employers. Lampkin herself made it to the eighth round of interviews at a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley and was told that her background wasn’t “technical enough” for a role in software engineering.
Dolby labs, a leading sound and vision technology company uses blind auditions to do just that when it comes to entry-level talent. “We are now looking at these very low-experience students through the lens of abilities and aptitude, versus what school they came from,” said Jeremiah Reyes, Dolby’s recruiting manager.
Companies are continuously taking initiatives to eliminate the problems of biases. You can also make an effort and reduces the effect of unconscious bias by these four squares.
1. ‘No-name’ applications
Name-blind applications involve removing a candidate’s name from a resume, CV, or any other documents needed for a job application. This reduces both intentional, unconscious bias and discrimination from the beginning stages of the hiring process. Hiring managers and HR personnel can work to eliminate their own personal biases influenced by the background, cultural environment, and personal experiences.
Going name-blind when short listing candidates may be a sensible start, but it is likely to be just a small step towards ending hiring bias.
2. Pre-Employment Skill Testing
Another excellent way to evade resume bias is by administering pre-employment skill testing and considering a candidate’s test results along with their resume. Blind hiring is about making the hiring process more objective in order to lessen the effect of unconscious bias in hiring decisions. This is also the goal of skills tests, which are designed to provide objective, standardized data about job candidates to help employers find the best talent for their organizations.
Using, pre-employment assessment test hiring managers and recruiters can base their decisions on hard facts – a candidate’s test results – instead of depending on a resume that may bring biases. With skills assessment, a hiring manager will get the answers to the questions like does the candidate have the necessary skills for the job? Do the candidate’s skills match the candidate’s resume? Will the candidate be a good fit for the team and the company? Once you have the answers to these questions through skills testing, you can make better decisions.
Skill testing can demonstrate that candidates outside of the “normal” talent pool, in fact, provide a higher level of performance and competency. Using skills tests can also help companies avoid discrimination against candidates based on gender, age, or race since hiring managers will base their decisions on a candidate’s proven competencies.
3. Applicant Interview Process
As long as humans remain a vital part of the hiring process, discrimination can be a factor on some level. It's harder to eliminate biases with in-person interviews, but techniques exist to help make the process as bias-free as possible. Include different people like hiring manager, department head, stakeholder, and HR as a panel of applicant interview process with job seekers to provide multiple perspectives on each candidate. All panel members will compose the interview questions, conduct all interviews as a team, and recommend the top applicant(s) for the position. Each panel member must make a commitment to understand and follow selection process policies and procedures.
While interviews will eventually reveal the identity of each candidate, which can allow biases to re-enter the process, collecting skills testing data of each candidate’s capability and knowledge base enables interviews to become more objective. Moreover, you can make the interview more anonymous, for example by using chat rooms to conduct the interview.
4. Interview Questions
As an interviewer, you must carefully avoid asking any direct or indirect question that is related to an applicant’s race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, military status, sexual orientation or disability.
Ask questions relevant to the job role, know if the candidate is a problem solver, find if he is a quick learner and go-getter, and ask the candidate about significant accomplishments. Carefully devise your own list of the best interview questions to ask as you participate in more interviews. Simple chit chats, again, that revolves around the candidate’s accomplishments and experience is good.
Remember to avoid any question related to ethnicity and gender. You can refer to this round up of 51 questions to avoid asking during an interview.
Tech companies have begun to take a serious look at ways to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process in order to promote diversity and ensure they hire the best talent possible. To adopt less biased hiring practices, promoting workplace inclusion is an important goal for any employer to have, and examining the role that unconscious bias plays in the hiring process is a solid first step in the right direction.
As hiring a manager and recruiting professionals, we have a responsibility to lessen and eliminate as much bias from the hiring process as possible by creating a level field for all candidates. No name applications along with skills testing, objective data, and a standard interview process and questions can promote equal hiring practices.
I would like to know your strategies for reducing the hiring discrimination in the comments below.