What is Blind Recruitment?


When you hear ‘blind recruitment’, the first thing that comes to mind may be a blindfolded person trying to make a choice from many options but is that how it really is?

As the world we live in gradually (and thankfully) moves slowly towards being a fairer society for all, some form of blind recruiting process is becoming a popular option when it comes to the hiring of staff. 

It’s not to say that you should conduct all your recruitment activity by drawing the successful applicant from a Tombola machine (although it has been known to happen , on occasions (allegedly)) but instead removing certain details from a job application  (partially or in full) using technology, performing it manually or asking potential candidates to omit them from their CV or application altogether. These details could be name,  age, education or indeed a photo. This is not an exhaustive list.

Advantages of Blind Recruitment 

By implementing blind recruitment, you’re essentially focusing on the skills of the candidates and reducing the possibility of bias. The more personal identifying information provided before evaluating an applicant may inadvertently influence your decision making  – whether it be gender, race or even socio economic background.  People can consciously or unconsciously gravitate to favouring candidates  who have more in common with them,and for no other reason.

So by omitting these from your hiring process,  you are not allowing personal opinion to bias a decision on whether a candidate is right for a role before they even step foot into an interview room. This also prevents the interviewer(s) from forming a preconceived opinion by looking at their photos and posts on social media beforehand, which can unwittingly influence them when it comes to questioning the candidates.

The Research behind the Theory

According to research, candidates especially with names that sound Black suffer from a “bias blind spot”. This means that despite believing they are fair in hiring decisions, employers tend to make subconscious decisions about a person’s suitability based on their name, a form of discrimination. 

This is not the only form of discrimination however, as there are other aspects of a person’s background that can be used to discriminate against them. For example, educational history or their current family circumstances.

So, if you are targeting a diverse range of applicants with mixed ethnicities, upbringings or genders, then using blind recruitment will endorse your commitment to recruit purely based on a candidate’s skills and experience.

It can also help with the candidates that are not shortlisted. If they do not get through to the next stage of recruitment, there is no stigma attached and they may be willing to apply for another vacancy without any additional encouragement. For this very same reason, it could have a positive impact on the number of applications you receive knowing that your process is ultimately a fair one.

Many employers within industries such as Finance and Tech claim that adopting a blind recruitment strategy has increased diversity across their workforce and therefore enhanced ideas and creativity.

The Limitations of Blind Recruiting

Although it sounds like a great idea all around, there are some drawbacks that you may need to consider.

The main disadvantage associated with employing this strategy is that you will ‘get to know’ the candidate less personally from a blind application, and therefore cannot assess their personality at the initial stage but that’s what the interview is for! 

Furthermore, some roles might need knowledge of a particular industry,  language or culture and a candidate may look less favourable if certain personal details are removed from sight. Similarly, without seeing the whole picture,  someone from a more affluent background may appear to be better skilled because of what they have been able to afford or the connections that they have. 

The method can therefore potentially be counter productive in certain circumstances.

When recruiting in this way, it’s recommended that in tandem with the strategy,  you pay attention to what language you use to advertise the position , as it may adversely impact the number of applicants from a demographic sector anyway. For instance,  using gendered language, incorporating male of female personality trait stereotypes in a job advertisement could result in less applications from the other gender.

Cost and Resource Implications

Before you go ahead and remove targeted details from your candidates, it is important to think about the implications carefully.

Executing it for each recruitment campaign would be a significant undertaking. Undoubtedly this process will cost time, effort and money – but if carried out correctly could lead to a more diverse workforce that is more representative of your client base. 

However,  not everyone can afford to spend all of the time and energy it takes. If you do not have the budget to carry out this process, you need to consider other ways in which you can increase diversity amongst your pool of applicants that are screened. 

In my experience, the best way to implement blind recruitment is through the use of technology. An application tracking system that can remove applicant’s personal identifying information from the view of shortlisters. It’s more time efficient and can be tracked more easily than when done manually.

Additionally, there will be a substantial level of support , co-operation and communication channels that are needed from (and to) senior management and your existing employees in order for this type of strategy to work long term. Without it, the risk of creating divisions between those who ‘got through’ and those who didn’t , far outweigh any positive results it might have claimed to have had on the business.

So, is it right for your Business?

Although you can  successfully adopt the practise when deciding on who to put forward for the interview stage, it gets somewhat trickier when the successfully screened candidates are then invited for a face to face interview and to some extent you are back to ‘square one’ once more with similar problems that you had encountered from the outset. 

It’s an imperfect science,  but it’s one where some form of it should at least enter consideration when it comes to enlisting staff.


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