What is Blind Hiring and Its Implications for the HR Profession

Recent surveys of Human Resource Managers (HR Professionals) has revealed that there are some companies that have embraced what is known as Blind Hiring wherein the HR managers specify the prospective and potential applicants to leave their personal details blank in their applications.

The details such as Name, Gender, Colleges, and Universities Attended, as well as details regarding personal beliefs and preferences are supposed to be left blank in the applications. Further, the hiring is supposed to be based on the applicants solving case studies as well as presenting solutions to given tasks instead of the traditional screening and hiring process wherein the applicants are called for interviews based on their educational and professional qualifications.

Moreover, the hiring in this case is supposed to be “blind” to the personal details of the applicants so as to remove any bias or conflict of interest between the hiring team and the applicant since it is believed that some hiring managers shortlist applicants based on which school or college they attended as well as based on their location, religion, ethnicity, and other personal details.

Indeed the fact that many hiring managers tend to display the all too human trait and habit of short-listing applicants based on personal details is the reason and the prime driver behind some companies hiring applicants based on “blind hiring” practices.

The need for such practices also arises from the fact that almost all organizations have what are known as “old boys clubs” wherein employees belonging to certain colleges and universities as well as those belonging to some past employers tend to “get” their classmates, peers, and coworkers from the past employers into the present workplaces.

Moreover, with the extremely polarized social atmosphere, some companies have found that more often than not, employees tend to hire those belonging to their religion or ethnicity in addition to hiring those from their cities and other personal characteristics.

Therefore, it can be said that blind hiring removes all these sources of bias as well as conflicts of interest and instead, provides the organizations with a hiring method that is transparent and purely based on merit.

In addition, blind hiring would also obviate the expensive lawsuits and other legal actions against companies that arise from hiring based on personal details. Apart from this, blind hiring also ensures that prospective applicants cannot use “back door entry” strategies wherein they “manage” the hiring process in collusion with insiders and hence, gain unfair advantages over their other applicants.

Having said that, it must be noted that despite the obvious advantages of blind hiring, there are some disadvantages as well. For one, blind hiring means longer processing times for applications since the hiring team must devise the appropriate method of assessing and evaluating the candidacy of applicants either through task based hiring or lengthier interview processes since the hiring team has no knowledge of the applicants personal and other details and hence, once they are shortlisted based on “objective” criteria, they must be screened by performing due diligence that can take more time than the traditional hiring methods.

Moreover, designing case studies and tasks that are to be solved by the applicants means that enough time must be devoted to each hire as well as coordinating with several managers and teams since the hiring process is essentially one where the applicant is judged not on past achievements but on how well he or she solves the task or provides solutions to the case studies.

In addition, given the short staffed HR departments in most organizations, blind hiring increases the workload as well as introduces additional layers of complexity into the process. of course, the fact that most hiring is done based on employee referrals is another factor that counts against blind hiring since such referrals are effectively eliminated or reduced in blind hiring practices.

However, blind hiring might represent the future since many organizations are struggling to hire the right candidates in the traditional methods since research has shown that candidates who are hired based on which college they attended or which company they worked are as good or as worse as hiring based on impersonal methods wherein the applicant is judged not according to their past but based on present capabilities as well as future potential and contribution to the organization.

Moreover, with research suggesting that employees who are “good interview candidates” might not always be good employees or be aligned with the roles for which they have been hired. For these reasons, it would not be surprising if more organizations jump on the blind hiring bandwagon in the coming years.

Finally, given the various points discussed so far, it is our view that it would be better for organizations to try blind hiring especially for the junior to middle level positions where the maximum amount of hiring is done and where the chances of blind hiring succeeding are more.

Moreover, it is absolutely imperative that organizations hire applicants based not on “whom they know” or “where they studied or worked previously” and more importantly, not based on “which religion or ethnicity” they belong to but purely based on the capabilities and competencies as well as the expertise and fit between the applicants and the roles for which they are being hired.

In conclusion, while these are early days for blind hiring to emerge as a mainstream hiring method, there is no harm in organizations trying this out to ensure greater transparency and accountability into the hiring process.


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