What is blind hiring? And how it could bring you 3x more offer-worthy candidates 

13th October 2020

You want to fill your team with the best talent.

People who will work harder and stay longer.

But how can you know you’ve hired the best person and have data to prove it?

What is blind hiring?

In short, blind hiring is an anonymised, bias-free hiring process. Initial applications are completely anonymous, and interviews are ‘structured,’ so that all candidates have the same experience. 

Generally speaking, blind hiring removes the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Profile photo

The blind hiring process means that every candidate gets a fair shot (no matter what their background is), and hirers get to find the best talent.

Step 1: CVs replaced by ‘work samples’

CVs are prone to unconscious bias, and they’re not predictive of real-life ability.

Look at the finding of Schmidtt & Hunter’s landmark metastudy. As you can see, education and experience (the staples of the CV) are actually some of the least predictive means of assessment.

At the top of the list are work samples – job-specific questions designed to test how a candidate would think and perform in the role.

Ideally, you’ll ask candidates 4-6 work sample questions instead of asking for CVs/ cover letters. Each question should test at least one of the core skills required for the role… you’ll then be able to build a skills profile for each candidate

Work samples essentially take small parts of the role and get candidates to perform them.

The idea of work samples is that they’re both real-life-simulating and hypothetical. Instead of asking candidates whether they’ve done task X, you’d simply get them to do or at least think through that task.

Just because someone hasn’t done something before doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t perform it better than other candidates. Instead of testing for the experience itself, you’re testing for skills learned through experience.

Is it any surprise that the most predictive means of assessing someone’s ability to do a job is to get them to perform elements of it?

Step 2: Blind review

Once submitted, candidates work sample answers are:

Anonymised: all identifying information is removed, leaving only the answer itself and a candidate ID number.

‘Chunked:’ answers are reviewed question-by-question, as opposed to candidate-by-candidate. 

Randomised: candidates’ answers to each question are reviewed in a different order every time.

Scored: work samples are scored against set criteria (usually a simple 1-5 star scale) and at least 3 reviewers are used. This is to utilise ‘crowd wisdom’, the rule of thumb that says collective judgment is generally more accurate than that of an individual.

When complete, the screening process looks like this
Step 3: Structured interview

Structured interviews mean that all candidates are asked the same questions in the same order.

Whilst some degree of interview bias is unavoidable, structured interviews ensure that candidates are being judged on the skills necessary for the job, and that alone.

Much like the work samples used at the screening stage, interview questions should be focused on how a candidate would perform, as opposed to whether or not they’ve experienced a given situation.

Using the work sample philosophy, you could give candidates a case study to work through. Are there any parts of the job that could be easily simulated in the interview e.g. a presentation, prioritisation task or client interview?

 You can grab a shortlist of behavioral science approved interview questions here.

Note: I myself was asked to analyse and improve an existing blog post as part of my interview here at Applied.

From an HR perspective, you’ll probably want to get an idea of whether or not someone is a good ‘fit.’ Instead of typical (and bias-laden) ‘culture fit’ questions, you can ask candidates questions to test their mission and values alignment.

Your question could be as straightforward as: “Why are you applying and why now?”

Interview answers should be scored immediately following the interview without conferring – it’s best to have 3 reviewers (similarly to the work samples).

Once you’ve conducted all of your interviews, you’ll be able to add up each candidate’s scores to form a candidate leaderboard. The best person for the job should be obvious, with no room for debate or personal opinion to enter the decision-making process.

Blind hiring works – just look at the data

Since the blind hiring process is designed to be as fair and predictive as possible, you’ll find that you not only find better candidates but also increased diversity in your candidate pool – a bi-product of removing bias.

Here are a few of the key benefits of blind hiring:

  • Teams using the blind process above found that they have up to 3x as many offer-worthy candidates 
  • According to our own data, 60% of people hired ‘blind’ would’ve been missed in a traditional CV sift.
  • Blind hiring could bring you 4x more candidates from ethnically diverse backgrounds
  • Compared to a national average of ~80% across the UK, 96% of candidates hired through the blind hiring process are still in their job a year after joining.

Guest post by Joe

Bio: Joe is a Content Marketer at Applied – the blind hiring platform that removes bias by design so that the best person gets the job, every time, regardless of background.