Name-blind recruitment

Coffee Inc has just announced names and high schools will be removed from all CVs before they are reviewed by those staff who will actually be doing the hiring (ie not HR).

Given how small the world is, there a massive chance that you'll know or know someone who might know an applicant whose CV comes across your desk, given that anyone who has been around for a few years will have pretty wide networks.  The first thing I do when I see a name or firm I recognise is to think about who might know the applicant (or if I know them), and make discreet enquiries.  Dodged a few bullets that way (and, equally, have received positive feedback too).

Assume you'll find out who you're talking to once you've committed to interview them, but by then it'll be too late for that initial screen.  Does this mean you're more likely to waste time on those you would have excluded as soon as you'd identified them?  Or is that the whole point of blind CVs? 

You also miss interviewing those whose uni/firm background etc might be pretty ordinary - but who your ex-colleague would have been able to vouch for as a great candidate.  Unintended consequence I guess.

Seems odd either way.

I never make “discreet enquiries” when hiring. It’s unethical. I stick to the results of our own hiring and selection processes and rely on formal references only to confirm basic details.

I think name blind recruitment is a good idea. Names give away sex, ethnicity and possibly social background, among other things. 

re your third para

yes that is the whole point

the risk that you might end up spending an hour meeting someone who you would have rejected on the basis of their reputation (or, let’s face it, on the probably biased and scurrilous comments of others in the market) is surely less, and definitely less important, than the risk that candidates might be compromised by unconscious bias triggered by their names

at the CV screening stage I fully favour name blind recruitment and, promoted by this thread actually, will discuss it with our HR people

This is meant dampen down unconscious bias, but you seem to be annoyed that you've lost the opportunity for conscious bias too. 

Having been involved in a similar process once, it is a ball ache for the interviewer but it's a fairer process for candidates. Surely the aim should be for a fair and level playing field, rather than for the interviewer to immediately cull people who went to the "wrong" school. 

How does this silly policy work?

Do they exclude hobbies and interests now? Being Capt. of the School netball team would be something of a clue to gender, as would Chess Capt.

Yet more left wing attempts at social engineering.

Hobbies and interests? Nobody applying for a real job puts these on a CV do they?

You also miss interviewing those whose uni/firm background etc might be pretty ordinary - but who your ex-colleague would have been able to vouch for as a great candidate.  Unintended consequence I guess.

A hiring policy that might eliminate cronyism, you say? Oh, no!!


Jelly, is your  ‘It’s racism’ response to any view on social issues that you happen to disagree with:

a. Because you are gormless, or

b. Because you are stupid?

This would be great news for my colleague, who not only might experience racial discrimination due to his name, but has a highly embellished CV and a long list of former employers who would probably tell their contacts not to touch him with a bargepole because he's fantastic at blowing his own trumpet but not much else and the entire team will loathe him within 6 months. 

Do they exclude hobbies and interests now? 

well quite clearly not, although anyone who puts hobbies and interests (“I enjoy long walks”) on their CV is a throbber

If you remove hobbies from CV’s mine would have a weird gap in it from spending a year racing boats full time.

No, that's too simplistic SCT.  I've worked with plenty of people who have been excellent but who - based solely on those matters that wouldn't be blanked out on their CV - would have struggled to score an interview at a lot of places. 

And as for Laz being holier than thou - the fact that nutjobs, incompetents, frauds and psychos regularly get through "objective" hiring and selection processes (not that there is any such thing) shows pretty clearly that anyone who doesn't use any opportunity they get to make enquiries of those who have direct experience of a candidate is shooting themself in the foot.






Coffee you can still have a a referencing process. The lack of transparency around your “discreet enquiries” would presumably creates risk for you and whoever is giving the informal feedback. 

Employing someone who one of your contacts could have told you is a walking disaster is also a risk though. 

  • Your contact could be the walking disaster.
  • Much like your sins, think on it.

The policy's main aim is to reduce racial bias, not gender. It also helps with class bias.


A mate at uni used my rented house for his correspondence address as it was on a nice road in a niceish area, and he lived at home in a shitty area. 

Not employing someone on the informal say so of “one of your contacts” is precisely the sort of behaviour which needs to be stopped. If a candidate found out that they were employed simply because of the anecdotal and subjective opinion of a third party they have a strong basis for a claim you’d think.

if you hire someone who doesn’t work out, there are existing, legal processes for getting rid of them.

the answers, of course, is to run more thorough recruitment processes.

The reference process only involves those nominated by the candidate, and often is merely a confirmation of their employment.  So you can't rely on learning anything of value there.

Most obvious example of the value of back-channel enquiries would be lateral partner hires.  99.9% of lateral hires are complete and utter clusterfucks, bringing in some washed up hasbeen or psycho who has been pushed out of their previous firm and who brings precisely none of the amazing book of clients he (invariably) promised would follow. 

Pretty much every time I saw someone leave Coffee LLP for another firm, accompanied by triumphant press releases and articles in the legal press, I'd think "why the fvck didn't they speak to anyone who actually knew what a groping psycho/PI case waiting to happen/has-been that guy actually is."

Classic was a partner I worked with who was given notice and basically locked out of the office, but was allowed to remain on the letterhead until he found something.  We were forbidden (on pain of dismissal) to breathe a word in case it got out into the market that he had been fired, and was a complete liability.  Sure enough, a few months later he moved to a very good US firm - cue headlines "Massive Blow to Coffee LLP as renowned Dickswinger moves to White & Shoe LLP" (where he lasted 2 or 3 years before again being punted)...   

The thing is, it's very clear how this person got through the recruitment process and their probation period. And now they are basically unsackable and the rest of the team is unhappy, because of this one person who has ruined the atmosphere. At least one person has seriously considered leaving because of them. And the best their manager has been able to do is get them send on a secondment to somewhere a bit shit for several months, which everyone else really appreciated. But he has done nothing to actually warrant being sacked (or if he has, he hasn't been caught yet), and so we are stuck with him until someone else makes the mistake of employing him. We work in a big multinational group where the easiest advancement opportunities are intra-group, but the other legal directors have heard enough to not touch him with a bargepole. 

An honest opinion from a former colleague or employer would have spared us all this. 

(of course that's all pretty academic - because once you've met the person you find out who they are.  So you can make enquiries then.  So the only real detriment is to borderline candidates who you might have interviewed if someone had vouched for them). 

Anecdotal and subjective opinions have a name I think - yes, "references" 

For first screenings no-name CVs seems to make absolutely perfect sense. As you get further in the process and start on face to faces it would also be ridiculous not to take into account the opinion of someone you trust who might have worked with the person before.

That in a way is doing no more than the  reference system which is of course an absurdity since all you get from HR these days is a statement of how long the person worked somewhere.

that is why employers need to be a lot harsher during probation periods. Whatever recruitment method you use, you don’t actually know what peopLe are like until they are doing the job in situ. It’s difficult for all but if you aren’t losing at least 20pc during probation you’re going to end up with a mediocre staff complement. 




Anecdotal and subjective opinions have a name I think - yes, "references" 

anyone commiting themselves to anything other than a purely factual reference is mad 


”You also miss interviewing those whose uni/firm background etc might be pretty ordinary - but who your ex-colleague would have been able to vouch for as a great candidate.  Unintended consequence I guess”

AS *IF* this is anywhere near as meaningful a risk as the risk that deserving candidates will be excluded on the basis of conscious or unconscious bias triggered by what their name conveys to the hirer about their race, nationality, sex, age, social background etc. AS IF AS IF AS IF AS IF AS IF

Coffee m88 your forlorn lament for the good old days of city boy cronyism will go down in the all time pantheon of self-golden-showering pisses into the wind.

m8 I have never been part of any old-boy insider network.  But quite frankly anyone who has been around for a while, and doesn't have a network they can call on at least sometimes to help them vet a candidate, must be shit at their job.

But maybe we're missing the point.  If you're a prick who refuses to hire certain people, you'll find a reason at a later stage of the process.  

man who transparently got overpromoted due to boys’ network in huge whinge that he can no longer leverage the boys’ network due to people pointing out it’s cuntish, meganonschocka

"but I want to know if he will be up for bevvies and ladz bantz before I waste my time in an interview!"

mate if you had any idea what you were talking about rather than pulling some ill-founded cliche out of your arse, your opinion might have a shred of credibility. 

risky, i've never worked for a company where 20% are let go during probation.


has anyone?

"what's that? A female candidate? I'm not recruiting an admin assistant" *chortles at own joke* "but seriously, is she a fitty?"

I have a mate with a polish surname who reckons his cv gets binned off as a result.

they have done name blind recruitment at the Spectator magasine for a long time

I have a mate with a polish surname who reckons his cv gets binned off as a result.

Is it Jaruzelski?

"actually, will discuss it with our HR people"

Yes, they're going to love you

Laz obviously looking for an early exit at his new gaff

risky, i've never worked for a company where 20% are let go during probation.

has anyone?

I've never worked with anyone who has been let go during probation, only someone temporary who wasn't made permanent.

Thanks diceman, it's all about timing and delivery.

My colleagues, in HR and elsewhere, are always keen to discuss innovative ideas. It’s one of the great things about the firm.

I have also never ever known anyone be let go during or at the end of a probationary period. They are totally fucking meaningless.

I know class-ism is a real thing over here, but to a North American it sounds ridiculous. So if someone with the right skills, experience and qualifications applies for a job they may not get it because of ... class? Which is defined as things like accents and not using the right fork at supper?

Also if the process is blind, you'll still make the same enquiries and checks once you've met the person and are interested in hiring them. You may find you like them so much that bad word of mouth doesn't put you off.

I'm trying to find the study I read of recently about some element of CV blindness (not sure if it was names or universities or what) actually resulting in a less diverse candidate group. 

The authors didn't have an explanation but speculated that it either it increased recruiters' bias based on other, more subtle markers - or that it got in the way of conscious efforts to find a more diverse pool.

class? Which is defined as things like accents and not using the right fork at supper?

You said "supper". Says all we need to know about your class.

I forget if supper is posh or not. To me saying "tea" when you mean a meal seems super posh, but apparently it's very common. It's very confusing!

"names and high schools will be removed from all CVs"

How will I know who's a decent chap if I can't see what school they've been to?

This is great for entry level jobs.  It doesn't work well for partner recruitment because you're buying a small business to add your larger business - not hiring a worker.  Too many old farts think, conciously or unconciously, that the was for the business to thrive is to hire an revolving circus of MiniMes.  There is, of course, a risk that some people who act actively engaged to remove bias from "normal" recruitment will end up hiring the white oxbridge male they would otherwise have passed on, but the way legal trainee/junior recruitment spits out reams of identikit polished middleclass results demonstrates that unconcious bias is deeply engrained. 

Anecdotally, I was lambasted for not going to a certain oxbridge college, and when i mentioned my wife has gone there I was called "an associate member of the good chap club".  It was all meant as a joke, but would make many people feel very uncomfortable.

class is a thing in the same way that race is, ie it exists because people believe it does

its total bollocks that other societies lack a class system in the sense of lacking the objective differentiating factors that british people use as markers of “class”

moreover, even societies that boast (tediously) or being “classless” often have forms of prejudice or stereotype that conform quite closely to what the british call “class” - eg the concept of the “beauf” in France (long essays from the Francophiles about how beaufdom is nothing to do with class not invited, faod) or the aussie concept of the bogan.

Nonetheless, it’s a pure social construct, wouldn’t be discernible by any objective test.

Canadian people don't recruit on class because of using the right cutlery but it's a more subtle marker of someone who is likely to think like and share similar views.  To be honest it's really no different to many people who tend to recruit a certain personality type that they like.

Personally if someone didn't employ me because of what they'd been told off the record I'd assume they were a khunt and I'd had a lucky escape.

the idea that class-type prejudices (prejudices that would be described as class-oriented in Britain) don’t exist in North America merits the highest, largest font, boldest and capitalest form of:


heh @ "identikit polished middleclass". 

Spot on.  In big firms they tend to be the polished sons and daughters (in roughly equal numbers) of an ethnically diverse cohort of bankers, doctors and lawyers.  Sometimes you might even get the offspring of a small business owner or senior civil servant thrown in to really mix it up.


there was a docu on C4 about a year ago following uni grads with stellar degrees but without that effortless charm and knowing the right cues that middle and upper class people have taught.  The interview process was really tough for them  - it was really sad to see them struggling with it.

yes I too as a virtue signalling middle class tede was filled with just the right degree of photogenic sympathy, and I made sure social media was appraised of it

I don't know about the effortless charm as I've never got over my training contract interview at Norton Rose where on the way to the meeting room I commented on the new decor and they pointed the office had recently been blown up by the IRA and totally refurbished.  I didn't get a job that time.

'Which is defined as things like accents'

There is a general assumption that those with the wrong accent are

  • uneducated 
  • chippy troublemakers 

An assumption that is not without merit

We certainly don't call it that Laz. I hire professionals, and if they have the right qualifications and experience they're fine to get the job. Most of the people I hired in Canada were not from Canada, honestly, so I have no idea what "class" they were in their home country? Toronto is mostly immigrants, and the minority of Canadians I hired were not from rich families who went to private schools (to my knowledge, I never asked). think what you think but the classism you seem to think is everywhere doesn't happen to be factual in Canada's professional/financial services industries. I've hired hundreds of people in my life in Toronto and Montreal, with people born in rural Atlantic Canada, posh Toronto suburbs, India, the Phillipines, Taiwan, China, Romania, Scotland, America, Argentina, etc and I don't really think I knew their "class" on hiring them nor cared if they were "raised like me" or whatever class is over here.


I once did a deal that involved financing a property development in Lockerbie. We exchanged loads of plan view diagrams of the property and maps of the town, none of which I really understood as they were for the benefit of the crayon-wielding property wonks and the planning tedes. 

The lawyer on the other side (from a major city firm) was himself scottish and mentioned at the closing meeting that he knew Lockerbie well.

I quipped, referring to the plan views that were my only knowledge of the place “oh, I’d only recognise it from the air”.

Oh dear

unlucky Canoodian, nobody believes u for even a second

class as a construct exists in all advanced societies (and most non advanced ones)

it DEFINITELY exists in France (where they make a point of never talking directly about it, ofc) and the USA

I honestly think Toronto and Montreal are such cultural melting pots that trying to group people by accent would quickly get you into racism before it would be classism as accents would be from people speaking English as a 2nd language. English speaking 2nd gen+ Canadians generally have nearly the same accent outside of french speaking, I'd be hard pressed to tell an Alberta native from an Ontario native honestly, and dialects aren't nearly as common based on how rich or poor your family was growing up. 

Maybe people from Newfoundland are deemed to be inferior as I've heard my share of "newfie" jokes, and they certainly talk a bit more with an accent than most of english Canada.

Until I moved to the UK, I'd never heard classism used in the workplace. Believe me or not, that's the truth. Ageism and racism are the buzz words, but for some reason HR was on a kick to manage Millenials, Gen Y/X, and boomers all differently, despite this being a western construct and me managing tons of people born behind the iron curtain or from SE asia.

I know a few wealthy older money Canadians and they definitely have a specific accent.

Canadian in the US it's more subtle as it's which school you went, which Church you go to and the like so it's not directly about wealth and upbringing but still about the things that people believe make other people more like them.

Hmm Sails I spent 12 years in the USA growing up (New York City burbs of Westchester) and my parents live in Austin Texas now. We never went to church, no one gives a shit in NY about church that I can see, and nearly everyone went to the same public highschool, all my nephews and niece go to the same public high school in Texas now. There's nothing upper or lower class about that to me. University biases likely do exist though, agreed there.

An Australian on here once said that for upper tier management jobs in Australia, it was important which prep school you went to 

And in Ireland, Irish can tell from the accent which school you went to  

In NY, Episcopalian, Catholic, Jewish all important, Canadian 

In fact they are obsessed with it

It's much harder to pick up on the subtle indicators of a wrong un with video interviews though. Eg you wouldn't be able to spot someone wearing brown in town or whether they were wearing trousers with belt loops

True, Wellers.

I once turned up to work feeling chuffed about my nice new belt.  How horribly gauche I felt when it was explained to me that one really should not require such things - as illustrated by the Old Etonian partner down the corridor with a double-barrelled name but no belt loops.  

Being a Welsh girl from a comprehensive proved to be no barrier to my (almost) stellar career. Just saying. 

Which church you went to != which religion you are, and judging people by their religion is a different thing then classism; where I can see that going to the wrong presbyterian church in the eyes of two presbyterians could be akin to the classim here. Never seen anyone comment on which church someone went to in my 35+ years in North America but okay then, must be so prevalent I just don't notice it. I assure you in Canada no one would know the name of your church in a professional context.

I've never heard anyone say "prep school" in Canada in work context either. I think there's a few of them? Who the hell cares where you went to highschool?

But do, please continue to convince me classism is a huge problem in the Canadian workplace, it's amusing and I welcome

m8, if you've learned nothing else in your few weeks on rof, I'd have thought you'd have learned never to expect your actual knowledge or experience of a topic to trump what another roffer (i) heard from his next door neighbour a few years ago, or (ii) thinks he knows based on a 3 day visit back in 2003.

Trying to fight against unconscious bias while we are all working at home is a total waste of time.

zero transparency now.

Canadian NY and Austin aren't really the US.  Get a little further out and it's all about who your pastor is and which kind of weird Christianity you prefer.

The only Canadian school I've been to is Upper Canada Coll. I went for a wander round when my m8 (an alumnus) was doing some private tutoring there. Met the headmaster. It seemed like a proper English school. They even had a cricket pitch!

Coffee I'm basing this on conversation with friends who've lived in the US for many years and also several close friends who were born and bred in Florida, Ohio, Baltimore and New England.

Heh Sails - I think you're right, sadly.

3-ducks - My cousin went to "Appleby College" when the local public highschool threw him out for bad behaviour. I kind of view those private boarding type schools as where the bad rich kids go when their parents want to get rid of them. heh. I'd probably look badly at someone who bragged about going to one of those schools if they ever brought it up in an interview.

I did some digging, and apparently so many Canadians view themselves as middle class (about 99% of people think they're middle class), also there's no Ivy League unies, no aristocracy, and people are generally pretty modest about their wealth - classism just doesn't ping on the HR radar the way it does around Britain.

Of course, that's not to say classism is not happening in Canada from a small group of rich idiots looking down their noses of course, just to say that it doesn't happen enough to get mention in the HR books along with gender bias or cultural bias or race bias or what have you. Canadians are awful towards their Natives and the french/english culture war is horrible. I don't think it's any better there, to be clear.

My sister is the first in the extended family to get a PhD and I was the first to get a graduate degree; our parents didn't go to university at all, and my dad talks like a mechanic (sample quote "I says to the guy, I says 'yous better fix that!') despite having considerable wealth from his parents and growing up with porsches and a mansion on the lake in Burlington. I would identify as middle class if asked, just like everyone I know in Canada.


Went to a wedding a while ago which was full of people from Columbus and sat next to a lovely lady at the reception but have changed my view of her since then as her Facebook feed is full of hardcore religion.

Completely agree with that most City firm intakes are heavily dominated by identikit trainees who are the children of upper and middle-class professionals. The kind of trainee whose stories of "challenge" or "hardship" in TC applications centred around climbing Kilimanjaro or paying to build wells in India during the gap year etc rather than being a carer to sick parents, working as a teenager to support family and pay rent etc. While not necessarily posh, these are people who don't need to worry about money (and have never needed to).

Also a strong emphasis on Oxbridge recruitment, and you will find very few people who did not go to a Russell Group University.

This was certainly the case when I began my training contract around 2015 at a non-MC major City firm. Interestingly, talking to an associate at my firm at the five year PQE mark, he said the previous graduate recruitment partner had essentially decided to stop targeting Oxbridge graduates as he could see no discernible advantage. However, the guy who replaced him, who was in charge when I got my training contract, reversed this policy and made a point of spending a lot of money wining and dining Oxbridge kids at different colleges.

Funnily enough, the associate also said the quality of trainees didn't seem to have improved and that Oxbridge kids still preferred MC firms.

The other amusing thing about my trainee intake in 2015 was that basically all the ethnic minorities (about 20%) went to Oxbridge or Ivy League unis. I'm *sure* it was a coincidence and they never brought it up...

I've got a mate with a Polish surname who has never had a problem.  Mr Sheen has never had any issue getting interviews.