Written by: Team PredictiveHire
Tackling bias with blind screening, blind interviewing and blind hiring
To find out how to interpret bias in recruitment, we also have a great eBook on inclusive hiring.
In the late 1970s, as the world was changing around them, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra realised they had a problem. Specifically, a white male problem; the profile of nearly every musician.
In what is largely seen as the genesis of the blind interview, in 1980 the orchestra changed their audition process completely. Musicians were placed behind a screen so the auditioning panel couldn’t know the gender, race or age of the musician they were listening to. It’s said they even put down the carpet so the sound of high heels on the stage could not be heard.
All the panel could hear was the music.
Of course, the result of this blind screening was profound. Hiring decisions were made on the quality of the performance only. In just a few short years, the ‘white male’ orchestra was transformed to more equal gender representation with musicians further diversified by their cultural backgrounds.
Not only has the Toronto Symphony Orchestra continued to use blind screening ever since, but it was also quickly adopted by most major orchestras around the world.
Beyond the concert stage, blind screening and blind recruitment practices are used by government, academic and business organisations globally. Because when it comes to identifying the best qualified or best-fit candidates, all you need to hear is their ‘music’.
It’s hard to admit our biases play a role in our decisions. That’s why Blind Hiring works.
Are tall people more likely to get higher paid roles? Do the best looking candidates always get the job? Will Michael or Mohamed be the best fit for your team?
While it’s easy to recognise bias in other people, it’s usually harder to admit that we are biased ourselves. That’s why it’s called unconscious bias. It’s something we all have and something we can all be affected by.
Unconscious bias is about making assumptions, stereotyping or a fear of the unknown in how we assess other people. It can be innate or it can be learned and it’s created and reinforced through our personal experiences, our cultural background and environment.
Think of gender bias, ageism, racism or name bias – these are some common biases that need no explanation. However, psychologists and researchers have identified over 150 types of bias that impact the way we form opinions and make judgements about people, often instantly.
The science is in. People are biased. And, again, that’s why Blind Hiring works.
In a two year study titled Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market published in the Administrative Science Quarterly in 2016, academics from the University of Toronto and Stanford University looked at racial and gender bias during resume screening.
In one US study, they created and sent out resumes for black and Asian candidates for 1,600 advertised entry-level jobs. While some of the resumes included information such as names, colleges, towns and cities that clearly pointed out the applicants’ race or status, others were ‘whitened’, or scrubbed of racial clues.
Amongst many insights, they found that white-sounding names were 75% more likely to get an interview request than identical resumes with Asian names and 50% more likely than black-sounding names. Males were 40% more likely to get an interview request than women.
Still need convincing?
Another 2016 study by The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany examined how ethnicity and religion influenced a candidate’s chances of landing an interview. 1500 real employers received otherwise identical applications, complete with a photo, from Sandra Bauer, Meryem Ӧztürk, or Meryem Ӧztürk wearing a headscarf.
- German-sounding Sandra received interview invitations 19% of the time.
- The identical application from Meryem recieved a call back 14% of the time while Meryem with a headscarf got called just 4% of the time.
These are just two of many research studies that suggest bias and discrimination are rife in the hiring process. In a 2017 UK study, only a third of hiring managers felt confident they were not biased or prejudiced when hiring new staff, while nearly half of those surveyed admitted that bias did affect their hiring choice. 20% couldn’t be sure.
Tackling bias in hiring & recruitment
When it comes to hiring, we all have our own thoughts about what an ideal candidate is supposed to look like. The problem is that our own bias can get in the way of the right decision.
If you’ve already pre-determined a candidate’s suitability by their age, gender or the school they attended, then you could be missing out on employing the candidate with the best qualifications. Or while you’re thinking about the best ‘cultural fit’ for your team, you’re actually missing the opportunity for the best ‘cultural add’.
But what if you could take bias out of candidate screening and hiring process? Is that even possible?
A closer look at blind hiring
Just as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra hid the identities of auditioning musicians behind a screen, there are several ways to bring blind hiring to your recruitment process:
Nearly all hiring decisions will involve a human to human interview. But take a step back in the process and blind screenings can ensure that all candidates are competing on a level playing field. With the opportunity to be assessed only on qualifications or skills, the best candidates for a role can be identified.
Blind screening is about making candidates anonymous – removing details from applications or CVs that reveal details that may colour the recruiter or hirer’s assessment. It makes it easier to make objective decisions about a candidate based on skills, experience and suitability without the distraction (and the damage!) of bias.
Unconscious bias can be triggered by someone’s name, their gender, race or age, the town they grew up in or the schools they attended.
Before making a final decision, many employers like to test a candidate’s skills or knowledge by setting a task or challenge. Others undertake personality or other testing to assess a range of relevant qualities such as aptitude, teamwork, communication skills or critical thinking. Candidates can be assigned an identifying number or code to retain their anonymity through blind testing, though this is often best done through a third-party service provider.
With face-to-face, phone or video interviews, it’s clearly impossible to keep candidates anonymous. Blind interviewing is possible, however, using a written QandA format or by using next-generation chatbots or text-driven interview software. Most recruiters and employers would agree, however, that there would be few if any, times it would be appropriate to make hiring decisions based solely on blind interviewing and without an in-person interview.
Read: The Ultimate Guide to Interview Automation
Blind interviewing, testing and screening in one – how Sapia has changed the game
Sapia is a leading innovator and advocate in using technology to enhance the recruitment process. Our AI-enabled, text chat interview platform has been designed to deliver the ultimate in blind testing at the most important stage of the recruitment process: candidate screening.
The ultimate in blind screening
Firstly, you will never have to read another CV again. Especially in bulk recruiting assignments, Sapia can help recruiters find the best candidates faster and more cost-effectively. CV’s are littered with bias-inducing aggravators. With Sapia, blind interviews are at the top of the recruiting funnel, not CV reviews.
By removing bias from the screening process, we’re helping employers to increase workplace diversity. It also delivers an outstanding candidate experience.
Reviewing and screening CVs is the most time-consuming part of any recruiter’s job and Sapia can put more hours back in your day.
Removing bias elements from the equation
Sapia evaluates candidates with a simple open, transparent interview via a text conversation. Candidates know mobile text and trust text.
Our platform removes all the elements that can bring unconscious bias into play – no CVs, video hook-ups, voice data or visual content. Nor do we extract data from social channels.
What candidates do discover is a non-threatening text interview that respects and recognises them for the individual they are, providing them with the space and time to tell their story in their words.
Algorithms see what humans can’t
As candidates complete and submit their interview, the platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to test, assess and rank candidates on values, traits, personality, communications skills and more. By bringing this blind interview into the upfront screening, recruiters can gain valuable personality insights and the confidence of a shortlist with the very best matched candidates to proceed to live interviews.
The platform has a 99% satisfaction rate from candidates and they report they are motivated by the personalised feedback, insights and coaching tips that the platform provides, along with the opportunity to provide their feedback on the process.
Blind hiring is better for business
Free from biases of the candidate’s race, gender, age or education level, Sapia’s platform delivers blind interviewing, testing and screening in one. Helping to build workplace diversity brings benefits for everyone – it can help lift employee satisfaction, boost engagement and productivity and enhance the reputation of your business as a great employer.
We believe there is a formula for trust when it comes to interviewing …
- Blind screening
- Using inclusive and engaging technology
- Apply a consistent assessment rubric
- Explainable and relatable process
- Relying only on data consensually given by the candidate
Final human decision supported by objective data. Or more simply:
Trust = (Inclusivity + Transparency + Explainability + Consistency) – Bias
Find out more about our AI-powered blind recruitment tool and how we can support your hiring needs today. You can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now – here. Else you can leave us your details to receive a personalised demo
Have you seen the New Inclusive e-Book?
It offers a pathway to fairer hiring. Get diversity and inclusion right whilst hiring on time and on budget.
In this Inclusivity e-Book, you’ll learn:
- How to design an inclusive recruitment path. From discovery to offer and validation of the process.
- The hidden inclusion challenges that are holding your organisation back.
- How to tell if Ai technology is ethical.