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We need to talk about bias and the trouble with video interviews

BY Team PredictiveHire

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To find out how to interpret bias in recruitment, we also have a great eBook on inclusive hiring.


… And then suddenly the video interview went mainstream! 

Whether it’s Google Meet, Facetime or Zoom or one of the many new names in video conferencing, 2020 will always be remembered as the year that video meet-ups went mainstream. It’s how kids kept up their lessons. How their parents hooked up with their personal trainers. It’s where people met up for Friday drinks. And of course, it’s the technology that enabled millions to stay connected to colleagues and clients while working from home. 

And just as video has impacted so many parts of our lives and businesses, it’s also accelerated the pace of adoption of video tools in contemporary recruiting.

It might be considered the next-best-thing to ‘being there’, but could video interviewing actually be filled with traps that are working against the best interests of recruiters, candidates and employers? 

What is a video interview?

There are two types of video interviews:

  • one-way or asynchronous video interviews – where candidates record their responses to a set of job-relevant questions.
  • two-way video interviews  – using one of the platforms described above or bespoke tools that connect the interviewer (or interviewing panel) in conversation with candidates.

 

Can video interviews really reduce unconscious bias?

Within both types of video interviews, an ability to reduce unconscious bias is often promoted as a key benefit.

Unconscious bias is the sum of the inherent beliefs, opinions, cultural background and life experiences that shape how we assess, engage and interact with others.

There are several ways that video interviewing might help reduce unconscious bias:

  • A consistent experience – With a structured approach to interview questions and process that provides every candidate with the same parameters, a standardised experience for every candidate can be seen to reduce bias.  When questions are set, there’s little or no room for distracting small talk (in two way interviews) that may reveal bias triggers.
  • No geographic or travel barriers – By interviewing all candidates in a location of their choosing, the bias of distance and the effort and expense of travel to attend an interview in person is reduced. 
  • Open the opportunity to more candidates – With the ability to automate video interviews and applications, recruiters can connect with many more candidates, helping to reduce the bias that may see a CV or application ignored or put aside.

 

The bias problem that’s staring you in the face … literally 

As much as proponents of video screening or interviewing claim it removes bias from the process, by its very nature, the opposite is in fact true. 

As soon as an interviewer or hirer sees a candidate, the blindfolds of bias are removed. No matter how aware or trained in bias the reviewers may be, images and sound can trigger bias and distract attention from the things that really matter. Here are just a few things that someone talking to the camera will reveal… all possible points of unconscious bias:

  • gender
  • age
  • skin colour
  • cultural background
  • visible disabilities
  • attractiveness or otherwise
  • what people wear – headscarves, religious jewellery, or maybe you just don’t like stripes or the candidate’s personal style
  • the background of the video – are you making judgements about candidates because of their home environment or choice of art on the walls 
  • accents might sound ‘funny’ or strange to your ear
  • candidates may have unusual voices or speech impediments that would not impact their ability to perform in the role 
  • you may negatively associate candidates with other people you’ve worked with or met 
  • the candidate may be highly nervous  about ‘performing’ for the camera, affecting their ability to speak normally and communicate clearly

Video interview platforms are being challenged in the US (EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Employment Screening Firm HireVue) for concerns over invisible biases that may be affecting candidate fairness given the opaque nature of those algorithms. Facial recognition systems are worse at identifying the gender of women and people of colour than at classifying male, white faces. This year IBM openly pulled out of facial recognition, fearing racial profiling and discriminatory use, partly due to the questionable performance of the underlying AI.

No rule says you need to see someone to hire them

That’s just a bias (much like the bias pre-Covid) that you need to see someone at work to know that they are doing the work. 

Blind hiring means you are interviewing a candidate without seeing them or knowing what school they went to, the jobs they have had. It’s a real meritocracy in that it’s fair for the candidate – and also smart for your organisation. 

If you are hanging your hat on the fact you just finished bias training- research has shown consistently unconscious bias training does not work.  

While we have all been dutifully attending it for years, the truth is the change factor is zero. 

Video interviews vs text interviews. Which delivers blind interviewing at its best?

PredictiveHire’s Ai-enabled, text chat interview platform has been designed to deliver the ultimate in blind testing at the most important stage of the recruitment process: candidate screening. 

Unlike video interviewing, PredictiveHire removes all the elements that can bring unconscious bias into play – video, visual content such as candidate photos or data gathered from social channels such as LinkedIn. PredictiveHire even takes CVs out of the process.

Read: The Ultimate Guide To Interview Automation With Text-Based Assessments

An enjoyable and empowering candidate experience

While being ‘camera shy’ works against many candidates in video interviews, PredictiveHire evaluates candidates with a few simple open, transparent questions via a text conversation.  

Candidates know text and are comfortable using it.  A text interview is non-threatening and candidates tell us they feel respected and recognised as the individual they are. They are grateful for the space and time to tell their story in their words. It’s the only conversational interview platform with 99% candidate satisfaction feedback.

 

Better hiring outcomes with PredictiveHire

Beyond a better and more empowering candidate experience, the platform helps recruiters and employers connect with the best candidates faster and more cost-effectively. The platform uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing to test, assess and rank candidates according to values, traits, personality, communications skills and more. 

Recruiters can gain valuable personality insights and the confidence of a shortlist with the very best matched candidates to proceed to live interviews. And by removing bias from the screening process PredictiveHire is helping employers to increase workplace diversity and enjoy all the benefits that diversity brings. 

Find out more about PredictiveHire’s Ai-powered text interview platform and how we can support your best-practice recruitment needs today. 


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