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Recruiting Trends: Anonymous Resume Screening & Blind Interviewing

Dr. John Sullivan published recently an article titled, “Recruiting Trends for 2016 And Their Supporting Best Practices, Part 1 of 2.”  Part one lists recruiting trends twelve through six while the six highest impact censored-297442_640trends are reserved for part two to be released at a later date.  Curious to see if video interviewing made the cut, I was momentarily floored from the get go when I read trend #12, “Anonymous resume screening and blind interviewing.”

In an effort to bring more diversity to recruiting, recruiters are not only being trained to recognize their unconscious biases but also are being trained in best practices to hide “irrelevant” information.  Best practice number one includes hiding information such as the candidate’s name, address and grades which are not seen as accurate predictors of success.  Best practice number two suggests reducing the number of visual biases.  These visual biases are not detailed but using more telephone interviews is encouraged.  Another suggestion offered was to hide the candidate behind a screen.  The third best practice was to reduce voice bias by offering online questionnaires.  The best practice of reducing voice bias seems to contradict the best practice of conducting more phone interviews.  In summary a trend is forming that recruiting should be done blind and deaf.  You don’t know the candidate’s name, gender, age, and additionally can’t see or hear the candidate.  Imagine the Dating Game where the woman asks written questions of her suitors, they in-turn write down their responses on an index card, and then toss them over the curtain to her without revealing any hint of their charm or charisma.  Perhaps this isn’t a fair analogy.  Hiring should be more scientific and based on the candidate’s skills not the emotions they invoke in you, correct?  But what becomes of cultural fit if we remove a candidate’s face and voice, or is “cultural fit” just a euphemism for discrimination, as an HR professional once put it to me?

Google is mentioned in the article as one of the firms experimenting with blind resumes and though Google’s site does promote diversity, their culture is important to them as well.  As is written on their careers page, “Lots has been written about our great perks, but read on to find out what our culture is really all about.”  Cultural fit is important not just in determining if the candidate is right for the company but also in determining if the company is right for the candidate.  Is the effort to hire a diverse workforce based on skills alone ignoring the cultural fit factors necessary to increase employee retention? Trend #10 promotes the use of recruiting videos such as video job descriptions and video job offers to better show off the excitement and passion of an organization.  Perhaps such a practice will better help organizations promote their culture and improve fit with candidates.

I concede that a candidate’s name and grades aren’t accurate predictors of success.  In fact data that Google derived from their recruiting processes suggests G.P.A. truly is irrelevant several years post-graduation.  Location to me though seems necessary perhaps not for fit but just to know whether the candidate requires re-location or sponsorship to work at your company.  I will assume the recruiter understands the job specs and is providing the appropriate resumes to the hiring manager.

Eliminating bias in hiring is certainly a desired goal, but are employers losing the ability to find and hire the best candidates by going blind and deaf? Only if you believe that cultural fit won’t make your organization more successful.  We have to ask, is diversity more important than every other objective and will diversity alone optimize your workforce?  Are diversity and cultural fit mutually exclusive?

The extent to which extreme measures to decrease bias and increase diversity are necessary points to a larger problem that these best practices cannot circumvent.  Prejudiced managers exist and even if the candidate is hired sight unseen they will reveal themselves the first day they report work.  If the employee comes from a class, race, ethnicity, etc. to which the hiring manager is biased, you aren’t doing the candidate or your company’s retention rates any favors.

The other big unknown is will flying blind and deaf actually result in a more diverse workforce?  What do you think?

About The Author

Ryder Cullison

Ryder has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4 he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter: @hireintelligent and @cullison1

3 Responses to “Recruiting Trends: Anonymous Resume Screening & Blind Interviewing”

  1. Denis Blanc
    February 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hello Mr. Cullision,
    it’s a very good summary of the Recruiting Trens from Dr. Sullivan.
    And taking the recent finding into account, the critical view seems to be appropriate!

    I started to write my Thesis on the topic of anonymise recruiting methods, with the thought that this (new) tool can reduce discrimination and lead to a better quality of applicants…

    However, the more articles and research I find about this topic the more I start to believe that this method is more a “hidden agenda” to promote the companies image as a diverse employer than actual lead to better hiring decisions.
    I would be interested if your opinion about the topic has changed in the last year?

    • Ryder Cullison
      February 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Yes, I agree with your assessment that these attempts do not lead to better hiring decisions but rather are intended to promote the company as more diverse. As a video interviewing vendor our views on this matter are very contrary. We believe candidates should be see during the hiring process and have examples where seeing the candidate through a video interview has actually reversed bias exhibited towards a candidate when only their resume was seen. For example, a candidate who lists the year they graduated from college is revealing their age. From that information alone sub-conscious bias starts to creep in before the candidate has even been seen. A video interview displaying the candidate’s energy and enthusiasm helps to diminish the fear of an “older” candidate. Thanks for reading!!

  2. Lucas
    June 14, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I like the critique but I think you’ve taken the idea too far. No one is necessarily hiring deaf and blind, but they are completing their first level screening of candidates based on anonymous resumes rather than on biases. Second stage interviews if used, can be phone based or online etc, to maintain the anonymity, but I’ve never heard of someone showing up to their first day of work and no one has ever heard their voice or seen their face…

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