Open Hiring: Everything You Need to Know
Landing a job without an interview or background check, does that seem impossible? Not if you know about open hiring. In this article, we’ll zoom in on this concept. We’ll highlight some of its benefits and disadvantages and share 3 examples of companies that practice open hiring.
What is open hiring? A definition
Open hiring is a recruiting method where the first person to apply gets the job. First-in first-hired. No questions asked, no resumes, no interviews, no background checks. Regardless of people’s past, educational background, or experience.
The idea behind open hiring is to give people who usually face barriers to employment a chance to work. Think of people with a criminal record, a history of substance abuse, or homelessness, but also people with a disability, a lack of work experience, or simply a fear of job interviews.
Access to a bigger candidate pool
The fewer requirements you have regarding a candidate, the larger your candidate pool will be. Naturally, if you don’t demand a certain degree or level of previous experience, this will open up your vacancy to a lot more people.
Having a larger talent pool can be particularly useful for (entry-level) positions that are hard to fill, require little to no experience, and for which people can easily be trained by the organization itself.
Opening up your vacancies to virtually everyone is likely to increase the diversity within your organization. If your only requirement is the order in which people apply, you’ll have applicants – and eventually employees – from all walks of life.
A fast recruitment process
A logical consequence of having (almost) no candidate requirements and, by extension, no lengthy recruitment process, is that things tend to go faster. It’s good to note, however, that open hiring doesn’t mean that no screening is done at all.
The Body Shop, for instance, asked candidates three questions: “Are you authorized to work in the U.S.? Can you stand for up to eight hours? And can you lift over 50 pounds?”
Open hiring gives everybody a chance to work. It’s an approach that doesn’t look at people’s past or things they can’t do, but that focuses on what they can do instead. It’s a real opportunity for those who often face barriers to employment such as, for example, people with a disability or a lack of work experience.
Offering them a chance to prove themselves by giving them a job also means that they’ll be more loyal to their employer and less likely to leave. The Body Shop (mentioned above) found that their monthly turnover decreased by 60% when they ran their initial open hiring pilot.
Positive impact on society
Having a job is important for everybody. It’s what pays our bills and gives us a sense of purpose (or a reason to get up in the morning). For someone who’s often overlooked or disqualified in advance because of what they’ve done in the past having a job is much more than that. It’s a chance to turn their life around. An opportunity to truly start over, not just for them, but for their families too.
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While this is an often-named benefit of open hiring it also is a controversial one. Yes, it can be a great way to open doors to an entire group of often-overlooked jobseekers. And indeed, recruiting people on a first-come basis hence skipping an in-person interview does eliminate (unconscious) bias from interviewers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no bias at all, more on that below.
Just like every other recruitment method out there, hiring on a first-come-first-served basis also has its disadvantages. We’ve listed a few of them for you.
Cutting out all due diligence regarding applicants can be risky. Especially if those applicants will end up working closely together with colleagues and customers. Knowing something about a person’s circumstances – for instance when they’ve been convicted of crimes but also if they haven’t – only seems reasonable in that regard. A simple background check can save you a lot of potential trouble here.
While some say open hiring doesn’t discriminate and eliminates human bias, others claim it replaces one bias with another. Critics say that when you hire on a first-in, first to be hired basis you penalize people who, for example, don’t have access to a computer or those who were busy doing other things when the vacancy opened up (taking care of their children, picking up groceries, you name it).
Unsuitable for many jobs
The philosophy behind open hiring – helping people who face barriers to employment and reducing hiring bias – is great. And for many jobs, experience is actually not that important and a lack of it can easily be solved with on-the-job training. So for those positions, and the organizations that have them available, hiring on a first-come basis could be an option to explore.
There are, however, tons of jobs that do require relevant previous experience and a degree. It’s hard to imagine someone become a brain surgeon simply because he or she was the first one to apply… (and yes, this is a bit of an extreme example). For this large category of jobs an open hiring approach obviously won’t work.
3 Companies that practice open hiring
At AIHR, we love real-life examples. So let’s take a look at 3 companies that practice open hiring. Why did they decide to throw more conventional recruitment methods out of the window and how has this first-in first-hired strategy worked for them so far?
Greystone is probably the most often-named example when it comes to companies that practice open hiring. The company was the first one to launch its ‘trust-building, future-making, world-changing revolution’ in 1982 and has been advocating for open hiring ever since.
As a true evangelist and on a mission to co-create a more inclusive future for all, Greystone also teaches other organizations about the open hiring model.
The Body Shop
After a successful pilot, international beauty, skincare, and cosmetics retailer The Body Shop decided earlier this year to expand the open hiring concept to its entire retail chain over the summer. This means about 3000 stores in roughly 65 countries. Historically, the company has always been very socially conscious and a more candidate-friendly recruitment process is, therefore, totally in line with its culture.
Not only does the open hiring approach give people with for instance a criminal record a chance to turn their lives around, as an added bonus for the company workers stay longer because they appreciate the opportunity they got.
Chain Logistics (Netherlands)
In 2019, the open hiring concept also landed in the Netherlands. Since its first arrival less than a year ago, there have been 13 companies that started to use this recruitment method. Chain Logistics is one of those companies.
The company specializes in logistics (as its name suggests) meaning transportation, warehousing, value-added logistics, and the (e-) fulfillment of products. As a firm believer in social entrepreneurship and the right to work for everyone, Chain has an open hiring policy for some of its positions.
Open hiring, like every other recruitment method, has its pros and cons. While I don’t see it as a suitable mainstream option anytime soon, I do see its tremendous value for a big group of often-excluded jobseekers.
As such, I believe this could be a great opportunity for many organizations to review their vacancies and see which of them could qualify for open hiring. Doing so would massively increase the number of jobs available to everyone and this would not only help change people’s lives but also have a positive impact on our society.
Open hiring is a recruiting method where the first person to apply gets the job. First-come first-served. Regardless of people’s past, educational background or experience.
Benefits include access to a bigger candidate pool, greater diversity, a faster recruitment process, and improved retention.
Disadvantages include safety risks for other employees and customers, different bias, and the fact that open hiring isn’t suitable for plenty of jobs.