How (and Why) Companies Use Blind Auditions to Hire

Businesswoman wearing a blindfold
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If you're job-hunting and find out that you're going to have a blind audition, you'll probably wonder exactly what that means, and how blind auditions work. Blind auditions are a tool employers use to screen job applicants based strictly on the job and the candidate’s qualifications for it. Blind auditions are an effective way for companies to screen a variety of job applicants in an objective manner.

The theory behind implementing blind auditions is that recruiters may otherwise pick applicants who are more like themselves than they are different. Research indicates that employers tend to select candidates who have gone to comparable schools or possess similar background characteristics. The consequence is that employers miss out on talent that doesn't fit that traditional mold.

The Goal of Using Blind Auditions

When using the blind audition method, organizations screen applicants without accessing information about colleges attended, previous employers, age, gender, race, ethnicity or socio-economic status. With this approach, recruiters can focus on skills, knowledge and other assets directly related to job performance.

The job interview or "audition" typically requires applicants to complete some type of work sample, such as solving a skills-based problem. Work samples generated through the blind audition process are given the highest priority in the screening process since they provide concrete evidence that candidates can perform the tasks associated with the job.

Many employers who implement blind auditions use software that strips resumes or applications of identifying information and bias-inducing indicators. They have applicants answer work assessment questions and complete challenges to provide evidence of their skills, knowledge, and approach to projects. Examples of challenges include writing a case study, editing a document, creating a computer program to execute a function, or designing a website.

Employers gain the benefit of weeding out casual applicants and those without a strong work ethic, while job seekers can be assured they won't be unfairly prejudged.

Common Blind Audition Software

GapJumpers, a leader in the field, has produced a customizable platform for employers to conduct blind assessments of candidates. Employers can tap questions and challenges provided by GapJumpers or devise their own. GapJumpers research indicates that blind auditions yield a more diverse pool of candidates. For example, GapJumpers reports:

  • "Positive bias in hiring female candidates likely exists due to their performance on the audition and due to lack of diversity on the teams that they are applying to. (Approximately) 69.2% of preferred candidates from blind auditions were females."
  •  "Due to lack of expert guidance, counseling, and self-confidence, community college applicants performed poorly relative to others during in-person interviews."

Applicants respond to challenges anonymously, and employers review the results of their assessment prior to viewing more traditional profile information. The system employs a plagiarism checker, Google Knowledge Index, to verify the authenticity of candidate responses.  

Blind Audition Tips for Job Applicants

Review these tips for how-to success:

1. Read the directions carefully and follow them completely.

2. Note the time constraints and make sure you complete the tasks within those parameters.

3. Outline or map out your approach to the problem offline.

4. Complete as much of the task as possible offline prior to making system entries.

5. Check your submission for errors including spelling and grammar prior to finalization.

6. There may be challenges that have no right answer. Explain your approach and the rationale for the option you have selected. Apply your strategy consistently to the problem. 

7. Consult resources and ask for help as needed, but don't copy content. Answer based on your own skills and qualifications for the job.

Implementing Blind Auditions Without Software

Not all companies have the budget to purchase and implement a new software package for hiring purposes. There are a few guidelines that can keep the spirit of the blind audition process, which can be performed manually.

  • Set a hiring goal: If you've noticed that certain job positions have some type of imbalance, such as few females in executive roles, make a goal to use blind auditions for these jobs.
  • Choose which information to make "blind:" Good starting points include resume information such as college location, name, address, and graduation year.
  • Train hiring managers and recruiting staff: Teach techniques to spot and avoid unconscious bias, and how to ask interview questions that are skills-based.
  • Start with just a few positions: The blind audition process will require good design, practice, feedback, and fine-tuning. Resist the urge to take the initiative company-wide until it's been worked through successfully on a small scale.
  • Measure the results: Collect data on new-hire demographics, such as age, race, gender, and retention. Ask for feedback from candidates, and discuss results with HR staff as part of the fine-tuning process.