Multiplicity of thoughts, exceptional approaches and creative ideas are known to increase efficiency and effectiveness, giving any organisation the much-required competitive edge. Many companies are committed to having a diverse workforce with diversity in employee background, race, gender, age, religion, creative mindset and pioneering concepts.
The question is how to create a diverse workforce? One simple answer to this can be ‘blind hiring’. It is a process wherein potential hires are judged based only on their abilities, competencies and skill sets. In other words, the personal demographics of the potential hire are not considered. Names, previous companies served, alma mater, and so on are not given importance while making decisions about the candidate. Blind hiring is a recruitment technique that ‘blinds’ personal information that can lead to unconscious bias about the candidate.
It is a more detached method of recruitment that evaluates a candidate’s skills, knowledge and competencies, free from biases about what a ‘best culture fit’ candidate should look like.
Sudheesh Venkatesh, chief people officer, Azim Premji Foundation, says, “Making personal information anonymous, to eliminate unconscious bias about the candidate, will probably level the playing field a bit more and increase diversity in recruitment.”
Blind hiring leads to fair recruitment and merit-based hiring, away from gender and other personal biases. Such a unique and unconventional strategy of selection can bring a fresh perspective and surge to the talent pool in the country.
“Making personal information anonymous, to eliminate unconscious bias about the candidate, will probably level the playing field a bit more and increase diversity in recruitment.”
In the Indian scenario, an employer does not spend much time on a resume, and biases are bound to develop. In blind hiring, it is essential to judge candidates solely on competencies and skill sets.
It is crucial to clearly define the goals and processes of blind hiring, which will take maximum time in the process.
“In a business such as ours, which is not a company of very large size, and where attrition is less, we are not able to practise diversity. We need people from similar backgrounds. We use a lot of referrals for hiring.”
In the year 2014, Google came up with the ‘make up’ of its workforce, which was not very diverse. Only 30 per cent of its employees were women. Google beautifully sustained the strategy of blind hiring in increasing diversity in the workforce, thereby maintaining high retention rate and employee satisfaction.
There are several methods that can be followed for blind hiring:
Removing specific identifying information, such as the candidate’s name and educational background from resumes and applications
Every organisation has its own culture biases on which the information that needs to be ‘blind’ depends. There is no ‘one size fits all’ rulebook. Organisations need to use blind hiring depending on what bias their culture has.
Assessing candidates based on skills testing or sample projects, then inviting the top performers for the interview
The objective is to find the ‘best suited’ candidate for a particular job. Just by reading the skills mentioned in the resume, a recruiter cannot rely on the information. There is a greater need to test the skills of the candidate.
The Government or the PSUs have been using this method since ages and it has managed to get some of the best talent, especially for the civil services. The background, name of school, and the college of the candidate doesn’t come into play at all.
Conducting anonymous interviews, such as using chat rooms and voice-masking technology
For optimum returns, it is very important to educate and train managers on how to recognise and overcome their personal biases. This can only happen through a series of tests and training sessions.
Evaluating blind hiring
Measuring the rate of success of blind hiring is crucial to determine workplace diversity. It is important to collection the correct metrics. One of the simplest ways is to measure statistics on the diversity of candidates ‘pre’ and ‘post’ screening and short listing, before and after blind pre-hire testing, pre- and post-blind interviewing, and measuring rate of retention.
Not just skills, we need culture fit as well
For every company the presence of a ‘culture-fit’ employee for long-term alliance is a must. In an era where working hours are long and where companies are coming up with the concept of work- and- play, organisations look for candidates who can gel with not just the existing teams but also the company culture. But such blind-hiring strategy may not lead the company to understand culture-fit employees.
Also, culture fit cannot happen only with the fit in skills and abilities (ability test). Psychological tuning (mental fit) is a must, for which a candidate has to go through a psychometric test. Ability and psychometric tests totally align the candidate with the company culture.
“If an organisation truly wishes to utilise blind hiring, it needs to move towards greater inclusivity to ensure the otherwise deemed culturally misfit find their place and be able to perform well”.
However, blind hiring may not always be effective in various business environments.
Amit Das, director- human resources & CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Co. says, “If an organisation truly wishes to utilise blind hiring, it needs to move towards greater inclusivity to ensure the otherwise deemed culturally misfit find their place and be able to perform well”.
Vasudha Nandal, vice-president & head-human capital management, Sulekha.com adds, “In a business such as ours, which is not a company of very large size, and where attrition is less, we are not able to practise diversity. We need people from similar backgrounds. We use a lot of referrals for hiring.”
“Blind hiring does not work with referrals. We use networking sites to connect with people and hire them. There is a lot of stress given on pre-referrals to hire the right fit for the company. In such a business, blind hiring may not be able to deliver the expected outcome,” she adds.
Blind hiring is a remarkable ‘volte- face’ on hiring basis the ‘skills, aptitude, thinking’ a company needs. It can be really helpful in hiring the ‘right people’ for the business to do better and move forward.