Banish Bias: How Blind Hiring Can Elevate Your Talent Acquisition

May 24, 2023 by Verified First

Banish Bias: How Blind Hiring Can Elevate Your Talent Acquisition

For today’s businesses, a lack of qualified candidates is the number one hiring challenge, with over 55% of employers citing it as their biggest recruitment roadblock. If that sounds like you, we’ve got good news. Blind hiring is here to help.

Often referred to as blind resume screening, blind hiring is a process where an employer redacts identifying details from incoming applications, such as an individual’s name, age, gender, location, or education, in order to reduce unconscious bias and connect with a wider pool of qualified candidates.

Blind hiring dates back to the 1970s, when symphony orchestras held auditions behind a velvet curtain so judges could make decisions based on performance — not appearance. Since then, the percentage of female-identifying musicians in prestigious orchestra groups has jumped nearly 15%.

If you’re ready to reduce hiring bias and connect with qualified candidates from all walks of life, here are a few ways a thoughtful blind hiring process can help you win.

5 Ways Blind Hiring Helps You Uncover Hidden Talent

Though it often goes unseen, hiring bias can prevent qualified candidates from progressing to the interview stage, resulting in a lack of candidates and representation.

Despite the growing awareness around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), many companies still struggle to make real traction in their talent pipelines and workforce.

According to our recent State of Diversity Hiring report, 865 out of more than 1,000 employers said they face challenges with improving diversity. Regardless of company size, sourcing talent from diverse backgrounds was the biggest challenge for hiring managers at 40%. With a bit of help from blind hiring, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Reduce Hiring Bias

Unconscious bias can easily worm its way into the hiring process. But what is it exactly? Unconscious bias refers to the subconscious prejudices and stereotypes that can influence hiring decisions, impacting everything from resume screening to interview evaluations. From assuming candidates from your alma mater are automatically more qualified to hiring job applicants simply because they look like you, most of us are completely unaware of the hidden biases that can cause us to miss out on top talent.

But diversity is a key driver of innovation. Blind hiring can help you cut back on unconscious bias and increase qualified applicants by removing the personal information that may unconsciously prevent hiring managers from making the best decisions for the business.

Increase Diversity

A commitment to workplace diversity pays off. Companies with diverse teams are 36% more likely to outearn their competitors, and those with above-average diversity make 45% of their earnings from advances in innovation.

A commitment to diversity is also important to 76% of job seekers, who say it’s one of the first things they look for when evaluating companies and job offers. Blind hiring helps bridge the gap between intention and action, making it easier to create a fairer recruitment process that benefits both employers and candidates.

Because with the rise of Millennial and Gen Z talent, empty promises won’t cut it. From racial and gender diversity to neurodiversity and (dis)ability, evaluating candidates on their qualifications and skills instead of their identifying information leads to an innovative workforce fit for the future.

Improve Your Recruitment Process

By focusing on skills and qualifications rather than demographic information, companies can streamline the screening and selection process, reducing the time and resources required to find the right candidate. This can lead to a more cost-effective hiring process, especially if you use an applicant tracking system with automated blind hiring features to help you screen and sort candidates without any manual steps.

For example, Breezy users can automatically redact identifying information as soon as a candidate submits their application. Each applicant’s name is replaced with an adjective and animal name (for example, Amiable Aardvark) until the hiring manager or recruiter moves them to the next stage in the pipeline.

When used in combination with machine learning, like Breezy’s Candidate Match Score, AI can help compare your job description to incoming resumes, assigning a simple 0-10 score so you can review the most qualified applicants first without potential biases. 

Reduce Risk of Expensive Legal Problems

Despite the millions of dollars invested in DEI initiatives every year, many companies find themselves facing expensive Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) violations. From particular industries intentionally refusing to hire women or refusing deaf applicants, million-dollar lawsuits due to a lack of fair hiring still happen too frequently.

Fortunately, blind hiring can help reduce the risk of expensive legal problems. With a clear plan and documentation to support your process, you can keep your compliance reporting up-to-date at every stage, preventing costly legal mistakes while enhancing your company's DEI position. 

If you’re already using recruitment software to track and screen incoming applicants, look for ways to easily pull your recruitment data into compliance reports. With Verified First and Breezy, automatic EEOC/OFCCP reporting and utilizing the best screening practices, it’s easy to stay compliant with a simple on/off switch.

Elevate the Candidate Experience

The candidate experience isn’t just how job seekers feel about your company — it’s a central component of your talent acquisition strategy. From the first glimpse of your job posting to the moment a candidate becomes a new hire, you need to show you care. That means responsive communication and focused interviews.

By removing identifying details from the screening process, hiring managers can redirect their focus to the skills and experience that matter, and candidates feel less pressure to fit a certain mold or stereotype. This leads to better interviews, with more time spent on why someone is right for the job. For the 42% of job seekers who want to work at inclusive companies, the way they’re treated throughout the hiring process plays a significant role in whether they accept your offer.

Best Practices for Implementing Blind Hiring

Ready to make your hiring process stronger and fairer? Good move! Here are some best practices to help you effectively incorporate blind hiring into your process.

Review Your Job Descriptions

Incorporate inclusive language wherever possible. This helps your job postings appeal to the largest possible audience simply by removing gender-coded language from your job ads. Here are a few quick tips to start with:

  • Use “parents/guardians,” not “mother/father”
  • Use “partners/spouses,” not “husband/wife”
  • Use “sexual orientation/sexuality,” not “sexual preference”
  • Use “people of color,” NEVER “colored people”
  • Use “people with disabilities,” not “the disabled/handicapped”

Once you’ve updated your job description template, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Remove Identifying Information from Resumes 

Next, focus on removing identifying information from resumes. This will help you focus on skills and qualifications, leading to a more objective assessment and helping to keep you compliant with anti-discrimination laws.

If you utilize an ATS like Breezy, our Incognito Apply feature will instantly remove gender, age, and ethnicity from applicant profiles. If you want to do it the old-fashioned way, grab a marker and start redacting. Here are a few of the identifying details to redact:

  • Names
  • Headshots
  • Personal pronouns
  • Ages
  • Addresses
  • Schools attended
  • Graduation dates

Use Structured Interview Questions

There’s a common misconception that a standardized interview is cold and impersonal. But the purpose of a structured interview is to give you more room for connection by creating a controlled space where each candidate can shine.

According to our Diversity Hiring Report, structured interviewing is the most commonly used initiative at the candidate selection stage, with nearly 67% of companies using standardized interview questions. Using the same questions for each candidate levels the playing field, helping you predict performance the same way for all candidates. It also keeps interviewers from getting too “buddy-buddy” with a candidate who happens to have the same degree, background, or alma mater.

For fast, scalable interview questions that are easy to replicate, focus on using skills and talent-based questions instead of background or educational questions. Breezy users can access custom interview guides, making it easy to coordinate with every interviewer on your hiring team. No matter what system you use, aim to keep a good mix of problem-solving and open-ended questions.

Bust Bias with Blind Hiring Made Easy

Blind hiring might not be a magic bullet, but it is a crucial tool for reducing hiring bias in the applicant screening process. If a fair and compliant hiring process is the goal, blind hiring can help protect your business from costly legal risks while putting more qualified candidates in the interview seat. Using tools like Incognito Apply from Breezy to identify information is automatically removed from incoming applications to help you screen the right candidates in — not out — is a great place to start.

Plus, Breezy and Verified First are integrated via browser extension, streamlining your hiring process from start to finish. With this one-click integration, you can easily order, track, and manage Verified First's background screening solutions, including background checks and verifications, within Breezy's ATS platform. 

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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