The media has been full of talk about ‘anonymous’ and ‘blind recruitment’, but what exactly is it and how can you find your ideal candidate without being able to see?

In 2016, Ernst & Young LLP decided to trial a blind recruitment process. They hid candidates’ backgrounds and names from their assessors, representing candidates only by a series of scores which came from tests developed specifically for the company. They then shortlisted candidates, and invited the shortlist to interview, during which they asked only forward-looking questions.

The results?

  • Not only did their number of applicants increase by 75%, but the 1,326 successful recruits passed their accountancy exams one year later with the same pass rate as any other years
  • The blind recruitment process allowed them to level the playing field, with a higher number of recruits from state schools, as well as more employees who were the first in their family to go to University
  • Managing Partner Maggie Stilwell led the process, and commented that the process allowed them to “capture potential in a much more sophisticated way”.
  • The company will now use a blind recruitment approach as standard!

Putting ‘blind recruitment’ into practice…

Recently I supported a London charity in the recruitment of a senior leader for their organisation. They had been struggling to attract applicants over the years, resulting in too small a pool of people to select from. As a result, they were forced to choose the best from a limited bunch ending up settling on someone who didn’t fit the role. This meant that staff turnover suffered.

How did Recrion tackle this recruitment challenge?  

I started by interviewing the current senior leadership team, in order to understand their experiences of being a candidate going through the recruitment process. Did the job advertised match the actual role once they had been hired? Was it clear from the start what they were being recruited for?

From this research, several recruiting issues emerged:

The need to clarify the role

When the new senior leadership role was discussed, I could see that it was unclear exactly how this role would fit into the current executive team, what the job holder would be expected to deliver or how this person should be motivated.  Having spoken at length to the CEO and the rest of the leadership team, I understood who would be a good addition to the team and organisation and what they needed to deliver.

The job description was not fit for purpose  

The drafted job description I was given consisted of 2 pages of background on the charity and 3 pages of “responsibilities,”  “experience” and “qualifications” that they needed. Having clarified what the job holder would be expected to deliver, and how, I started removing:

  • “eight to ten years leadership experience”
  • “a degree or equivalent qualification”
  • “five years marketing experience”.

As well as culling the unnecessary skills and experience that we find in 90% of job descriptions, we reduced the job description from five pages to two and a half!

Attracting more candidates

Having analysed the motivations and drivers the ideal candidate needed in this role, I used specific words and phrases throughout the job advert and job description to subconsciously attract the candidates we wanted using the LAB Profile.

In addition, we decided to advertise online in 3 specifically targeted places to increase the pool of candidates to choose from. 35 days later, we had received over 100 applications!

Applying the ‘blind recruitment’ approach

In order to have an unbiased screening process, we asked the HR Administrator to anonymise all CVs, removing their genders, names and contact details. We applied a stringent scoring and screening process based on 8 criteria candidates needed to have demonstrated in their career. This allowed us to focus on what they had done in the past that was relevant to the role we were recruiting for, and that would allow them to fit the role and do the job well.

Our screening process resulted in a very strong shortlist of 9 candidates whom I then telephone interviewed focusing on what they were motivated by in their work. I then recommended 3 candidates for a face-to-face interview and 1 was offered and accepted the job the next day.

The result of using the ‘blind recruitment’ approach?  

It was the first time I had applied a blind CV screening exercise to such a large volume of applications. By reducing the many factors that influence our judgment, we were able to select the best applicants with the most potential, without overlooking anyone due to unconscious bias.

How can ‘blind recruitment’ help? 

There are so many candidates out there who are talented and perfectly capable of doing the job, yet they don’t come with the right pedigree. If we want to tackle the skills shortage we need to recognise that:

  • We cannot keep asking for skills and experience and qualifications that the minority possess
  • Many of those who might fit the bill on paper may not be motivated by the kind of work they are qualified to do
  • We need to have the confidence to recruit people with potential, who have the spark and commitment to make a success of what they do.

So yes, it is time to embrace blind recruitment in the workplace! 

Are you about to recruit? Get in touch with Recrion today to find out how Katherine could help you increase your recruitment accuracy to 90% and open up hidden pools of talent.