At the end of 2015, we updated the content across our entire website. Once we launched the changes, we noticed that our employment page was one area that could still use some improvements. That got us thinking, what can we do to improve our hiring process as a whole?
There is no “cultural fit”
We wanted to make sure we were encouraging any and all talented people to apply, as well as conveying our values and what we do at Bytemark. We’ve learnt many valuable things from previous rounds of employing and have also been listening to wider industry discussions about diversity.
Why make a change?
As Bytemark continues to grow, we’d like to see the range of diversity within the company more closely mirror that of our community and beyond.
We’d like to create an environment, internally and externally, that is welcoming to diverse individuals and groups. That means a broader set of perspectives can influence the development of our products and the quality of our communications.
From that position, we can support a wider range of customers, using our services for a broader variety of reasons. It also means that the diversity that exists within each of us can be brought forward and valued in ways that may not have been considered as welcome previously.
This is ultimately less stressful for everyone at work — it becomes less about fitting in, scheduling, and downplaying the things that make us different, and more about the work we do and whatever unique viewpoints we can bring into it. Whilst, to some, this may sound idealist. There is academic-research based evidence showing that diversity benefits the workplace! We’ve referenced some interesting studies in our diversity statement if you’re interested.
How can you improve diversity in recruitment?
Successfully achieving a more diverse culture within a company is hard work. There are challenges for employers, employees, and applicants at every step of the process. Change brings adjustments to work expectation, culture, communication, and more.
We are working to minimise or remove barriers to applying for a role at Bytemark. So that a person’s talent and work contributions are seen first and foremost, and can be evaluated on equal footing with their peers. Here are some steps we have already taken towards this goal:
Making our job adverts more inclusive
This has mainly revolved around making information clearer for everyone. So as, being explicit about benefits that may be already well known to those who are native to this country or culture. We’ve also shifted to focus on a role’s work expectations rather than trying to paint a picture of an ideal employee. Often these ‘ideals’ are based on cliché stereotypes, e.g., “become a coding rockstar/cowboy/ninja”). These descriptions may not be clear, attainable or desirable by people who don’t see themselves as fitting the norms of current tech culture.
Better highlighting what is important to us
A lot of what Bytemark already does is diverse. But we weren’t necessarily showing this to potential applicants, which may have put them off going for a role. To overcome this, we made the following text more prominent on our employment page:
“We’ve hired people in all ranges of expertise — from those with no formal academic qualifications or those from fields entirely outside of technology, to people with advanced degrees or who have been career sysadmins. Qualities such as methodical thinking and knowledge sharing are just as important to us as education or experience. We strive to make assessments by taking account of all the skills you have to offer.”
These are both great progress. But we wanted to do more than just say we encouraged diversity, we wanted to really show it.
So, in May 2015, we made the huge decision to start an anonymous recruitment process. The biggest change compared to tradition recuiting is this – your first two interviews are truly anonymous. We conduct them over instant messaging and run our skills tests remotely too.
You won’t even have to give your real name or a CV in the initial stages. We don’t know anything about you that you don’t choose to present in the interview.
That makes us work hard for explicit goals. We want to know about your:
- Most valuable skills
- Ability to learn
- Ability to work effectively in a team
We make decisions based on those factors. Avoiding the “X factor” of cultural fit, which we’ve seen as an excuse for all kinds of implicit and explicit bias across industries.
We also want to be respectful of your time, your enthusiasm and your interests – we’ll test not just what you know but what you can learn. Our focus is on letting you put your abilities to the fore, without fear that you’ll be judged on irrelevant things. We define the job, we define the skills, and we want to test those without bias.
Our culture comes from you, the best person for the job at the end of the process. Of course we still need to meet you, we want to meet you. But we will start our interviews on the solid foundation of anonymity. Only at the final stages will you be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview.
Does anonymity work? A case study
In 1970, only 6% of musicians in the “Big 5” US orchestras were women. By 1991 that had risen to 21% and continues to rise. That’s because (from a much-cited study), orchestras began to use “blind” auditions. The hiring panel would listen to a candidate from behind a screen (rather than seeing them as they played); adjusting for other factors, a woman who auditioned in this way was 50% more likely to advance to the final round of selection.
That’s a big win, and one I’d like to see happen in our industry. There’s just no reason it can’t be done, for the kinds of work we’re offering. So that’s why we’ll defer meeting you until late as we possibly can, until we’ve committed our interview notes to paper. We want to argue on the basis of what you can do, and the impression you make in writing.
An update from Bytemark
Since we published this article, we have actually started using this process for hiring. So now we can act as our own case study! Check out how we found recruiting anonymously.
Visit careers.bytemark.co.uk to learn more about our innovative process, and of course apply for any open roles!