Blind Auditions Could Give Employers A Better Hiring Sense

One way to address the biases in the hiring processes, whether diversity or background related (see earlier How an ethnic-sounding name may affect the job hunt regarding evidence of bias):

Typically, a hiring manager posts an opening, describes the ideal candidate and resumes come flooding in. After doing some interviews, the manager has to make a gut decision: Who is the best person for the job?

Research shows that more often than not, managers pick someone whose background is similar to theirs.

But, Vujosevic says, “There is definitely room to improve how we view talent, how we screen talent, how we engage with talent and how we end up interviewing talent.”

By “talent,” he means all the gifted young people he knew that weren’t getting job interviews at technology companies because they didn’t fit a certain idea of what a good job candidate looks like. They didn’t graduate from college, they taught themselves to code or they had a strong accent.

Vujosevic thinks he knows how to get around this problem with a completely different way of looking at hiring. He thought these unconventional applicants could get interviews if there was a way to show what they could do without revealing who they were.

So he created a website called GapJumpers where employers post a job along with some sort of challenge, like: Create a Web page or write a social media strategy. To apply for the job, you just take on the challenge.

“Right now, we are able to do blind auditions for software engineering roles, design roles, marketing roles, communication roles and allow candidates that might on paper not be a good fit, prove that they actually are,” he says.

He compares it to his favorite singing competition, NBC’s The Voice. Four celebrity judges sit in red super villain chairs with their backs turned to the stage. And then, someone sings. The judges hit a button and turn their chairs around. That’s the first time they see who’s performing, but they’ve already decided “I pick you for my team.” It’s a blind audition.

And that’s kind of how GapJumpers works.

Jeremiah Reyes is in charge of hiring at Dolby Laboratories. He wanted to spend less time sorting through applications and getting more qualified candidates, including people with nontraditional backgrounds.

Recently, a Dolby hiring manager was shocked to discover his favorite candidate came from a community college.

“The one that we did select, even in our debrief he basically said, ‘Wow, I think if I just saw his resume on my desk, I don’t know if I would have selected him,’ ” Reyes says. “It was one of those ‘aha’ moments for him that this is a really interesting tool.”

Blind Auditions Could Give Employers A Better Hiring Sense : All Tech Considered : NPR.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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