Blind Hiring and Implicit Bias

Over the past several years, many people have become more aware of the implicit biases that exist in our culture. Implicit bias, or hidden bias, occurs when individuals make judgments about people based on certain characteristics without even realizing they’re doing it. People may have implicit bias about race, gender, age, religion, marital or parental status, and many other areas. Unfortunately, these characteristics can affect all stages of the recruiting process – whether the application gets reviewed, if the applicant gets an interview, and ultimately who gets hired for a position.

Recruiters and hiring managers may not even be aware of the impact that their implicit biases cause. So what can you do to mitigate the impact of implicit bias in your recruiting process? First, ask yourself or your hiring managers some important thought-provoking questions:

• Do you typically hire the same type of people?

• Do you disqualify résumés based on the name and what it may imply?

• What do you mean when you say that someone is “just not the right fit”?

After taking an inventory on your answers to the previous questions, you may want to start implementing blind hiring. Blind hiring ensures that you are focused on the qualifications and the skills that a candidate has rather than focusing on their demographic characteristics. A great first step would be to create a system so that you can remove or hide an applicant’s name from their résumé while reviewing their qualifications. Other demographic information that you could remove to reduce implicit bias would be the home address, graduation dates, college name, volunteer work, or any hobbies or interests that are listed. These items could give you an indication of an applicant’s socio-economic status, age, parental status, race, or religion. Keep in mind that you may eventually want to know what college an applicant attended or what volunteer work an applicant participated in, but some of this type of information may change your view of a person. For example, if you see the person volunteers with youth sports, you may assume that the person has children and has particular constraints on time.

Blind hiring may seem like an unnecessary or overwhelming process to implement, but imagine the talent you may find when you remove implicit bias and you are truly looking at a candidate’s qualifications. If you have any questions about blind hiring or any other part of the recruiting process, please feel free to reach out to the HR department.

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