Blind hiring system to be implemented in public sector

By Ock Hyun-ju
  • Published : Jul 5, 2017 - 17:41
  • Updated : Jul 5, 2017 - 18:07
The government on Wednesday introduced plans to implement a “blind” recruitment system in the public sector and expand it into private firms to ensure fair competition in the hiring process.

Starting this month, state-run agencies will be banned from asking job candidates to reveal personal details such as names of the schools they attended, birthplace, family relations and physical attributes in the job application process. Attaching photos to application forms will also be prohibited.

“The hiring process should guarantee equal opportunities and fair evaluation. Talented people should not be excluded because of prejudice stemming from their academic backgrounds and physical appearance,” Vice Labor Minister Yi Sung-ki said during a press briefing.
In the competitive job market, it has been common for Korean employers to ask potential hires about possible discriminatory factors such as age, gender, height, weight and even marital status in the application forms or in interviews.

Blind recruitment means such personal details are stripped from applications so that recruiters can take into account only professional merits of candidates -- skills and job experience.

The move comes about two weeks after President Moon Jae-in directed his Cabinet to look for ways to introduce blind hiring in the public sector right from the second half of this year.

The government is to release a detailed guideline later this month, amend relevant rules in personnel management and draw a standardized resume to be used in the hiring process, it said.

The new application forms will focus on evaluating candidates’ job experience and relevant qualifications. The information about candidates’ physical ability and educational background can only be asked in exceptional cases when the elements are related to the jobs.
The government said that it will not force but encourage private companies to follow its lead.

The government will distribute a manual to private firms, provide education sessions for human resources personnel and offer some 400 small and medium-sized companies with consulting to develop application forms and interview methods corresponding with the blind hiring system.

According to a survey by a job portal site Saramin on 427 human resources managers from private firms, 48 percent of them said that they are willing to implement the blind hiring system. Of them, the majority, or 57.4 percent, said that it could grant “equal opportunities” to applicants.

“I think the blind hiring system is reasonable,” said Lee Hye-ri, 27, an office worker for a state-run bank. “I think the current hiring practice places too much emphasis on uniformly evaluating candidates based on academic records and English test scores, which I think has nothing to do with their job skills.”

But concerns remain over the efficacy of the blind screening system.

When the system is enforced in the private sector, it could have more drawbacks, according to a human resources manager at a Seoul-based private company.

“It is good that candidates can be screened without prejudice,” Seo Ji-hoon, 31, said. “But companies have their own know-hows in hiring employees. Information such as which university they went to and what they majored in is useful in selecting the right people for our company.”

“When interviews are not properly structured, it is very likely that interviewers use their subjective yardsticks in assessing job candidates.”

By Ock Hyun-ju (