Without even realizing it, many recruiters have unconscious biases which can mislead them into choosing the wrong candidate. The solution: blind recruitment. We look at the approach in a time of talent acquisition.
The approach is increasingly popular in large organizations: Google, Deloitte and the BBC have already integrated this formula into their hiring processes. Here in Canada, Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen recently stood up in the House of Commons to suggest it be applied to the recruitment of public service employees.
What is it all about? Blind recruitment is a hiring process where a candidate’s sensitive information is hidden, such as name, age, gender and even the university the applicant attended. The goal: counter both conscious and unconscious biases any given recruiter may have.
“People have the habit of surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals,” says Martin Cloutier, organizational psychologist at SPB. “Same age, same gender, same cultural background… We then end up with a lack of diversity in organizations.”
Several studies have shown that a candidate whose CV is headed with a foreign-sounding name like Fatima or Nguyen is less likely to get an interview than that with a more popular name like Smith.
Blind recruitment has the merit of giving everyone an equal opportunity. In an interview with FastCompany, Institute of Recruiters CEO Azmat Mohammed, who is a strong advocate of blind recruitment, detailed its benefits:
“The majority of organizations that initiate blind recruitment practices see an increase in diversity within their workforce, which is good for business (…). A more diverse workforce resembles your customer base more accurately. It also allows for different ideas from different backgrounds.”
That being said, the method remains little used in Quebec, notes Martin Cloutier. The organizational psychologist is, however, seeing it as a tool of choice for recruiters who are facing a talent shortage in their sectors.
“A shortage that will only increase with the aging demographic curve,” he says. In this context, employers no longer have the luxury of rejecting an application based on an image or perception. “Employers need to focus on skills,” he says.
Big Data To The Rescue
Implementing a blind recruitment process requires finding a neutral way of assessing candidates. One option to consider is the use of online skills tests.
“These tests provide objectivity in the selection process,” says Cloutier, who has participated in the development of the talent assessment solution D-Teck. “One does not have to meet the candidate in person. The employer chooses a skills test according to the job profile.”
“All thanks to big data,” he adds. “The algorithm that is being used recreates a psychologist’s judgment. It generates a report that the employer can then compare to the skills it is looking for.”