HR departments are currently trying to attract employees in a variety of ways – starting from sourcing on their own, e.g., on social networks, to using the services of specialized agencies, to creating databases of candidates and keeping in touch with them, hoping to one day turn them into hires. At the same time, they may employ different techniques as part of their processes. Some choose to just meet and make a decision after a single interview, while others rely on artificial intelligence (AI), organizing a comprehensive Assessment Center or outsourcing tasks to test basic skills. There is also a group of companies that believe that blind recruitment (sometimes also called covert recruitment) is a good solution. What is this tactic and why do companies opt for it?

Blind recruitment – or what?

The term “blind recruitment” refers to two types of situations. The first concerns identifying all data and removing it for the entity seeking an employee (made available, for example, on external portals or agency websites). Such a solution is popular, for example, when looking for a replacement for an employee who is planning to be fired.

The second situation involves hiding some candidates’ data in the application form – such as age, gender, nationality, place of residence, education information, interests and even name. These are data that could allow a person to be identified and judged on factors other than work experience and hard or soft skills.

Blind recruitment – why companies choose it?

For what reason do companies choose to hide candidate data? It is believed that doing so reduces the risk of a decision to reject or hire a candidate based on the personal biases of an HR specialist, hiring manager, or other person involved in the interview. After all, we can easily imagine a situation in which a candidate is discriminated against because of his or her age, gender, or university degree (because, for example, it is less prestigious than another candidate’s).

Studies even indicate that people with easy-to-pronounce and remember names and surnames are more likely to get hired! Blind recruitment is thus a way to avoid bias (whether conscious or unconscious) and use only fully objective criteria related to each person’s experience and skills that indicate how he or she will fill the role assigned to him or her.

Positive effects of blind recruitment

By using blind recruitment, companies can create a more diverse company team, which will undoubtedly be perceived positively by both employees and external stakeholders (partners, customers, contractors, etc.). What’s more, if you treat this practice as one of the elements of your employer branding strategy, candidates will also be more appreciative of your brand – after all, for an increasing number of people (especially for so-called top talent), diversity in the workplace is important.

The practice described will also allow you to better understand your audience group (due to the juxtaposition of opinions of people with different views). As a result, there will be more valuable ideas, initiatives, projects that will allow the company to strengthen its image and grow.

What are the downsides of blind recruitment?

While the list of benefits (especially in the area of positive long-term results) for blind recruitment is undoubtedly long, there is no denying that you’ll also find some downsides associated with it. We point out the most significant of these below.

  • The absence of bias is certain only during the first stage, i.e., the selection of resumes – its risk and the appearance of bias still exists at subsequent stages (especially during the face-to-face meeting), which certainly should not be forgotten.
  • The described practice can provide you with non-compliance with strategic goals if you have fixed conditions of employment in areas such as gender, age or ethnicity, for example. With hidden data, there is no guarantee that you will be able to meet the indicated requirements in the area of diversity.
  • You have to be prepared for a prolonged process of acquiring a new employee, especially with numerous applications, if the need arises to hide all the data manually. However, this problem can be eliminated by opting to use an ATS solution that has such a feature.
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Blind recruitment – summary

Blind recruitment is undoubtedly a very interesting practice, but – as we pointed out above – it has both pros and cons. One cannot disagree that, to some extent, it avoids the risk of appearing biased and (even unconsciously) making decisions based on personal biases. On the other hand, it doesn’t guarantee selection of resumes will not return for subsequent stages and that the company will be satisfied with the level of diversity achieved among employees. For this reason, it is also worth opting for other solutions – such as interview scorecards – in order to ensure the highest possible degree of objectivity throughout the process of selecting the best candidate for a given position.

Read also: Addressing passive aggression in the workplace.

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.