As more employers try to reduce their own hiring bias and increase the diversity of their staff, we’re seeing an increase in the popularity of blind resume reviews. The goal of this method is to give all job applicants a fair shot at being selected for a job interview.
But is it enough to eliminate hiring bias?
What’s a Blind Resume Review?
A blind resume review (sometimes called blind recruitment) happens when personally identifiable information is removed from a job candidate’s resume prior to being reviewed by an employer.
Information that may be removed during this process can include:
- Education history
- Years of job experience
The goal of blind resume reviews is to reduce both conscious and unconscious hiring bias. This bias most often impacts women, non-white applicants and older applicants. The idea is that if you don’t know information like a candidate’s name or how many years they’ve been in the workforce — which could give clues about their demographic information — you can’t make a biased decision about that candidate.
Just how pervasive is hiring bias?
- In 2015, the National Bureau of Economic Research sent over 40,000 fake job applications as part of research about age discrimination. They found that older female applicants were much less likely to receive an email or phone response requesting an interview or to learn more information than all other candidates.
- A Northwestern University, Harvard and Institute for Social Research in Norway study found that white applicants get 36% more callbacks than equally qualified African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos.
More employers are becoming aware of these hiring biases and increasingly care about their workforce’s diversity. One reason diversity efforts are gaining traction has to do with research that found companies that are more gender diverse and companies that are racially and ethnically diverse outperform those that lack such diversity.
While we commend organizations that use blind recruitment to combat hiring bias and work towards creating a level playing field for workers, it shouldn’t be the only anti-bias tactic employers use.
Why Your Blind Resume Review Isn’t Enough
While blind resume reviews are a good start, they’re just that: a start.
After you’ve picked out candidates using the blind review technique, you still have to meet them for an interview. And when you meet them, you’ll learn all the demographic information you worked so hard to avoid in the first place.
Don’t forget that your interview itself may be prone to bias. For example, if different candidates for the same job get asked different questions during their interviews, it’ll be harder to fairly compare them.
Additionally, people of all walks of life have biases that must be accounted for. As a result, there’s a risk for inherent bias when the interviewer’s gender, race or ethnicity, age or national origin differs from the candidates’. To complicate things even more, it’s possible for a person to be biased against people who share their demographics. For example, a woman could have an unconscious bias against women in tech. That could result in a female hiring manager believing a female candidate is less qualified for a job, even if the candidate is equally as qualified as her male counterparts.
Blind resume reviews remove bias from the first part of the hiring process — and stops there. While it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to giving diverse candidates a shot at jobs they’re qualified for, bias during the interview process can get in the way of making a fair hiring decision.
How Else Can You Reduce Hiring Bias?
Blind resume reviews alone won’t solve your hiring bias problem (in fact, you may never fully eliminate bias all of the time). Luckily, there are additional ways to help reduce the chance of bias influencing your hiring decisions. Below are a few additional anti-bias tactics that can be added to your hiring process.
- Improve your recruitment
Remember that efforts to eliminate hiring bias and improve diversity actually start during recruitment. You can’t build a more diverse workplace if you don’t attract applicants who don’t match the current typical makeup of your workplace or industry. And it’s not enough to just have one diverse applicant: as one Harvard Business Review study found, if you only have one woman or racial minority in your pool of finalists, their odds of being hired are statistically zero. There are many ways to attract more diverse talent, including making strategic choices about where you advertise your job to including information about your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusive work culture (should you have such a culture, of course) in your recruitment marketing and job postings.
- Remove unintentional gender bias from your job descriptions
Rewrite your job descriptions to either remove gendered language or create a balance between masculine and feminine language, or language that’s often associated with one gender. Why does it matter? Job postings with predominately masculine language get fewer female job applicants than those that use predominately feminine language or those that have a balanced use of both masculine and feminine language.
- Examples of masculine words include “active,” “decisive,” and “objective.”
- Examples of feminine words include “honest,” “committed,” and “enthusiastic.”
If you want to learn more about gendered language, check out the list of masculine and feminine words studied by researchers looking at their impact on job applicants.
Need help finding gendered language in your job posting? Try running it through the Gender Decoder, a free tool that will find gender-coded language that could discourage women from applying for your position.
- Diversify your interviewers
Have a diverse group of colleagues take part in interviews. This will help you consider more perspectives and have potential biases challenged when making a hiring decision. It may also help your candidate feel more comfortable during the interview process.
- Stick to the script
Ask all candidates the same questions in the same order. Such a structured interview will make it easier to directly compare candidates’ answers and ensure that you give each candidate the same opportunity to prove their capabilities.
While reducing hiring bias will require you change your recruitment and interviewing processes, the payoffs — including above improved financial returns and happier employees — should justify your efforts.