Right off the bat those in the Human Resources profession may take offense to my use of the word “fear” for surely so small a thing as a webcam does not scare them. Search your soul though soldiers of compliance. I’ve been a part of enough discussions both in person and online to have learned by now that some of you want little to do with video interviewing. What have I learned? Well I’ve learned that some HR managers, far more so than any other group, believes video interviewing will make it easier for hiring managers to discriminate. Additionally you believe that having recorded videos on hand, perhaps potentially showing your manager’s discriminatory behavior, will expose you to litigation.
Many of these fears are born from a misunderstanding of how video interviewing technologies work. Here are a few ways that video interviewing actually counters discrimination.
- Structured interviews: A number of video interviewing vendors provide a solution where candidates can take the interview on their own and at their convenience by means of an automated interviewing solution. Each candidate applying for a particular position is administered the same set of questions. Structured interviews of this nature, whereby every candidate regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity and so on, answers the same questions, reduces discrimination. Hiring managers, in other words, aren’t allowed to deviate from their script of questions based on the demographics of the candidate sitting before them.
- Video interviews provide a record of your non-discriminatory practices. You probably didn’t think of this, did you, while you were so preoccupied with the assumption that your biased managers would get caught red handed on tape. Imagine if an issue arose with a disgruntled candidate and you could point to a video interview clearly showing no discrimination took place. Furthermore by comparing the disgruntled candidate to the other candidates who applied for the role, you can demonstrate why one candidate made it further in the hiring process than another. Ever hear of the Hawthorne effect? This is a psychology term used to describe the increasing performance levels that occur amongst workers when they know they are being observed. When your hiring managers are conducting recorded live interviews, ones they will share with others, I imagine they understand that observing good interviewing practices are in their best interest.
- Video interviews can actually screen candidates into the process. One recruiter approached us after video interviewing a candidate and said his client had refused to move forward with the candidate because he thought the candidate, based on the candidate’s resume, lacked the energy level to do the job. This is a nice way of saying that the client thought the candidate was too old. After the recruiter showed the interview to the hiring manager, the hiring manager was able to see the candidate’s energy and enthusiasm for the opportunity. As a result, the candidate got the interview and eventually the job. An additional example is of a candidate that I encountered with a very ethnic name. He was originally dismissed because the hiring manager determined he probably could not speak English. Once he demonstrated his English speaking prowess on video, he got the job.
Now, after everything I’ve said, won’t you sleep easier tonight knowing that video interviewing means you no harm whatsoever?
I have spoken to numerous HR professionals at conferences about the benefits of video interviewing. Most all get it, but as a few consider the implications of seeing a candidate on video before the face-to-face interview, a shadow of worry creeps across their face. “Is video interviewing discriminatory?” they ask.
Speaking facetiously, I don’t ever recall my web camera or computer telling me not to hire someone because they were too old, too obese or a member of any particular ethnic group. My camera and computer have no emotions or even a voice, so no, video interviewing isn’t discriminatory. The question I was really being asked by the HR professional was, “Some of my people discriminate. Will this make it easier for them to do so?”
Similarly, while many job candidates blame an applicant tracking system for eliminating them sight unseen from the hiring process, that ATS is only discriminating according to orders given to it by a human.
I recently followed a discussion on Linkedin regarding the legality or fairness of using video interviewing in the recruiting stage of the hiring process. Several commenters, mostly from HR, seemed to feel that a job candidate’s selection should be based on nothing more than the candidate’s resume. What I found ironic about the discussion is that every person who responded had a picture of themselves next to their response as is customary with Linkedin membership. And since most of their recruiting was being conducted on Linkedin they are seeing photos of almost all the candidates they screen. By recruiting through Linkedin, their biases, if they possess any, will likely come into play.
The question remains, does technology discriminate and the answer will always be “no”. Has technology, however, made it easier to discriminate through its ability to target job candidates and improve the efficiency of the hiring process? The answer is probably yes. Similarly in an effort to improve the efficiency of travel, cars have made it easier to injure more people than we could with horses. This is a con we are willing to endure because the benefits of speedy travel far outweigh the detriments and like with hiring technology the car itself doesn’t do anything but what the operator intends for it to do.
If a hiring manager does not want to hire someone of a certain age, for example, he will make this determination before he even posts the job. Their biases have already been engaged before they have employed the use of an ATS, a video interviewing tool or any other recruiting technology. Upon occasion I have read of hiring managers viewing video interviews of candidates they might have rejected on the basis of the demographics appearing on the candidate’s resume only to discover after viewing the video that the candidate was more than suitable for their position. In this instance video interviewing actually negated the hiring manager’s pre-conceived biases towards the candidate.
Video interviewing and similar technologies are simply the scapegoat for an organization’s inability to properly train their hiring managers to be non-discriminatory. Take a look at this Linkedin quote from an HR Director in response to the video interviewing discussion I mentioned above:
“If we want to protect the organization from such a [discriminatory] manager, it is still better to not have a file full of rejected applicant videos waiting around for a subpoena.”
The flip side of that point of view is that if you are not discriminating you might be better off to have a file full of rejected applicant videos if a subpoena shows up. At least then you have a record of your organization’s non-discriminatory practices.
According to census numbers for as late as 2009, the divorce rate in the U.S. hovers close to or exceeds 50% for all 50 states. Basically when you enter into a relationship with another person you have a heads vs. tails shot of actually making it. I could go into all the reasons why divorces are so much more prevalent now then once they were years ago, but I’ve got to keep this under 10,000 words.
Here are a few ways you might avoid marital hell by applying your hiring principles to picking your mate.
- Turn off your internal ATS – Applicant tracking systems are designed to filter out unwanted resumes but our eyes work so much quicker when it comes to determining what we do or do not like. With blazing speed we scan a room and eliminate those who don’t meet our mating criteria. He/she is too tall, too round, too hairy, too pale, too freckled, too skinny and so on. While your company ATS removes all emotion from the selection process and theoretically chooses candidates based on skill, your internal ATS however is corrupted by the “love” virus. This trojan tricks us into believing that the object of our affection will be as emotionally and physically attractive to us 5-10 years down the road and barely considers skill in the selection process at all. This brings us to….
- Exchange spousal resumes – Darn right we need these! The love virus essentially shuts down all logic and reasoning during the spouse choosing process so much so that couples forget to seek common answers from one another that we so easily deduct from looking at a job candidate’s resume. Here are a few obvious inquiries not often considered:
- “Do you like to cook dinner?”
- “Do you know how to do laundry?”
- “Do you have more than $15,000 worth of debt?”
- “Do you have severe psychological disorders that I can’t see because I’m so foolishly in love with you?”
Couples need to exchange resumes listing such accomplishments as:
- “Successfully maintained employment for 36 straight months.”
- “Achieved quarterly quota of getting my kids to school on time.”
- “Presently have no addictions to Pepsi, Oatmeal Pies, Daytime television and sitting on the couch for hours on end.”
Exchanging a resume of sorts will help individuals discover if their potential spouse has the skills to meet his/her needs in the long run of life.
- Execute background checks/Credit checks/References – I’m not a big proponent of credit checks when discriminating against candidates especially in this down economy but I’ve heard countless stories of individuals getting hitched only to find out they had unknowingly taken responsibility for their spouse’s massive debt. Who needs that? Additionally while you may not want to ask this, don’t you want to know if your impending mate has three DUIs or charges of insurance fraud? Wouldn’t a background check serve you well here my friend?
- Interview – Your love affection may be able to fool you but can he/she fool a panel of your peers? Within your organization candidates most likely interview with several different individuals. Why not do the same with your spouse? Video interview him/her and share their video with friends and family so a more informed marrying decision can be made. Better yet, before you even go on that first date, have them record a video introduction of themselves and email it to you. This way others can point out the potential obstacles not registering with your eyes. Ask obvious questions during the interview (see point #2) such as how many kids you want to have if you even want any.
- Present the Offer letter – This is totally overlooked during the courtship phase and needs to be put in writing rather than assumed. A few might think the vows are the offer letter but vows are assumed moral obligations. The offer letter plainly lays out what each of you will commit to during at least the first five years of marriage. This way expectations will be met and bitterness from feeling let down or cheated won’t set in.
Now obviously at the risk of offending our loved one, we don’t employ any of the hiring practices above that we enact to ensure a prospective employee doesn’t ruin our company. But what they hey, it is just a marriage right?