For the vast majority of companies, hiring employees works in a very rigid, time-tested way: The applicant submits a resume and cover letter, which is reviewed by recruiters or HR staffers; if the details of that resume align with the offered position, the applicant is called in for interviews; and if the applicant makes it through that process, he or she is offered the job.
The problem, at least according to a subset of pundits and recruiters, is that traditional hiring is fraught with bias. Managers (however well-intentioned) bring a collection of conscious and unconscious preferences into every candidate interview. In a 2014 interview with Fast Company, Brian Welle, director of people analytics at Google, suggested that hiring executives might counter those biases by focusing on skills rather than the individual; attempting to become more self-aware of behavior and predisposition; examining demographic data related to company hiring; and talking through decisions.
But that’s a complex list of tasks for anybody to handle, especially since many people are disinclined to acknowledge their own prejudices and flaws. That’s why Peter Vujosevic created a website called GapJumpers, which attempts to hold “blind auditions” for tech, marketing, and communications pros.
According to NPR, GapJumpers’ blind auditions work like this: A candidate accepts a company’s challenge to perform a particular task, such as building a Web page. If he completes that challenge to the prospective employer’s satisfaction, he moves on to the next round—without the employer having known anything about the his educational or demographic background.
While a blind audition won’t eliminate bias—at some point, the real-life candidate has to interact face-to-face with a manager—it could help balance out the demographics of the applicant pool. But will companies prove willing to integrate this sort of auditioning into their hiring process?