We’ve been doing a lot of hiring at HubTran recently. As part of that process, we’ve been looking at how we hire, specifically at how our unconscious biases can shape our first impressions. I was excited to see another company is thinking about this problem:
Earlier this year we started doing blind review of applications to @thoughtbot. We started with not showing names, education, and other information that may introduce bias. We continue to improve the system and have a few upcoming improvements. pic.twitter.com/REuESrVE0n
— Chad Pytel (@cpytel) November 30, 2018
Sadly, the tools we use tend to work against this goal. We’ve tried Linked In, Zip Recruiter and Human Predictions. All of these tools default to making names and photos prominent parts of the candidate list. Why does this matter? Well, it turns out the blind auditions can change who gets hired in symphonies, and I assume the same is true for developers.
In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman writes about creating the interview process for the Israeli armed forces. He recommends scoring candidates across important dimensions before allowing yourself to record your first impression. He’s found that this act of delaying your first impression reduces bias. We know that at some point we will need to get on the phone and speak with candidates, but by removing gender and ethnicity from our first impression, we hope we can improve the fairness of our hiring process.