How to Use Blind Hiring to Fight Unconscious Biases

Unconscious Biases are a Short Step Away from Discrimination

Every day, we make snap judgments about people based on stereotypes and misinformation. These beliefs result in favorable actions for some people, while others suffer because of them.

And as much as we might think we’re immune to these judgments, that’s not always the case. We categorize and judge people before we even realize it’s happening. These attitudes are called unconscious biases.

The responsibility is ours to eradicate unconscious biases, foster a culture of inclusion, and prevent discrimination from affecting the workplace. How? A great place to start is in the hiring process.

Why are HR Managers Turning to Blind Hiring?

Unconscious biases have always affected the hiring process. Sometimes people get lucky and it benefits them, like when you realize that you both share an interest or hobby.

One of the most pervasive examples of how unconscious biases affect potential employees surrounds an individual’s name. Studies have repeatedly shown that candidates with ethnic-sounding names are ascribed with negative characteristics—solely because their names suggest they are non-white.

To combat this bias in the hiring process, many companies are turning to blind hiring—which is just like it sounds. Hiring managers are kept in the dark about everything except for the candidate’s skills.

Blind Hiring Techniques that Reduce Unconscious Biases

Of course, it’s pretty much impossible to never meet a candidate before you hire them, but you should be able to use some of these blind hiring techniques to help reduce unconscious biases.

1. Remove Identifying Information from the Resume

Unfortunately, our resumes give away almost all the information we have that could indicate membership in a protected class. For example, a name alone could give away gender and the college graduation year pretty much gives away age.

By stripping away identifying information such as names, addresses, and graduation years, potential candidates enter a more level playing field. When hiring managers don’t have skewed information, they’re less likely to make an unfair judgment.

2. Offer Up a Skills-Based Test

In many industries, like tech or design, potential employees are asked to complete a challenge to test their skill level. Usually, this is done later along in the interview process. But in blind hiring, it’s done much sooner.

A skills-based test can help you evaluate how a candidate thinks and if they would be able to handle the workload required. Simply put, if a job requires an employee to spend a lot of their time multitasking, you can administer a test to see how the candidate handles multiple tasks at once.

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3. Conduct Anonymous Interviews

Before technology, the only way to meet a potential candidate was in person. Now, we meet people all the time without ever seeing what they look like and therefore have the ability to conduct anonymous interviews.

Hiring managers can chat over the phone, Skype, use another text-based service, or even conduct an interview using voice disguising technology.

Additional Strategies to Help Combat Unconscious Biases

It’s important to realize that blind hiring alone cannot eradicate unconscious biases in the workplace. Rather, a combination of strategies are needed to combat unconscious biases. These include:

  • Get buy-in from top-level executives that want to expand diversity and promote inclusion
  • Train and educate your managers and supervisors about unconscious biases and how to move past them
  • Look for potential candidates outside of your typical places to increase the diversity of the applicant pool
  • Take a look at your overall company culture to ensure you set employees up for success

Key Takeaways

While blind hiring techniques aren’t perfect—since you can’t always remove every piece of identifying information from someone’s resume—they can help you reduce unconscious biases in the hiring process.

Don’t forget: blind hiring alone won’t work. Use a variety of strategies to ensure you are fostering an inclusive work environment.

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