How would “blind” interviews alter the makeup of the workplace?

In career services, we stress the importance of appearance at job interviews.  Dress conservatively, get rid of distracting jewelry or scents, if you play with your hair, pull it back, don’t wear rings on ever finger or in every piercing, don’t have loose change in your pockets, and so on. 

WomenForHire.com has a thought provoking blog post today about conducting “blind” interviews and how our workplace might be different if hiring managers weren’t allowed to see job applicants, but could only hear the answers to their questions.

Here’s a excerpt from their post:

“Before blind auditions became common in the 70s, just 10% of new hires at major U.S. orchestras were women. The theory was that women weren’t very good musicians. But labor unions protested the hiring process and pushed for blind auditions where musicians would try out behind a curtain so appearance and gender were concealed.

In studying personnel from 11 major orchestras, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin and Princeton’s Cecelia Rouse found that 29% of females and 20% of males advanced to the final round in blind auditions. When auditions were not blind, only 19% of women advanced compared to 23% of men.

Even though sex discrimination is hard to measure, those stats speak volumes. Fortunately, since the 80s, about half the news hires at the New York Philharmonic, 40% at the San Francisco Symphony and more than a third in Boston and Chicago have been women.”

If we apply the same concept from these orchestras to hiring for other types of jobs, it’s amazing to think of how the workplace might be different.  I interviewed someone once who had tried to do the right thing by taking out his piercings, but had accidentally caused the piercing area to bleed, which was probably a lot worse than us just seeing the piercings in the first place. 

Have you ever been in an interview, on either side of the table, and felt that appearance, gender, age, looks, etc. played a roll in the outcome?  Do you think it would have been different if the interview situation had been “blinded?”

One thought on “How would “blind” interviews alter the makeup of the workplace?

  1. I’m sorry to say it, but I believe I landed my job (and I’m a symphony musician!) DUE to being female back in 1975.

    I kept it because I played well, I’m happy to say.

    But still, I sometimes think about how I won the job, and I know it was because I was a young, somewhat cute, 18 year old, being judged by three men. I honestly don’t know if I would have won the audition with the screen.

    Those behind the screen auditions are better for many reasons.

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