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Video Interviewing and Diversity & Inclusion

by Alexander Mann Solutions Team

10th Apr 2017

The Diversity and Inclusion agenda remains a strategic priority for organisations today. The forward-thinking employers, seeking to better their representation of diverse talent, are turning their attention to talent acquisition strategies that are built to deliver to their diversity aspirations.

This is being felt acutely in the graduate space where there is steep competition in attracting, engaging and retaining the brightest diverse talent. A survey of the UK’s Top 100 Employers of 2015-2016 identified that the biggest challenge faced by graduate recruiters, voted by 65% of those who took part, is achieving their diversity targets (High Fliers Research, 2016).

We have seen start-ups bring new “diversity technologies” to market to drive more measurable change over recent years, from software that allows for blind interviewing and testing to help avoid bias led hiring decisions, to tools helping to create more inclusive job advertisements. Perhaps one of the most prevalent “diversity technology” shifts we have seen is a steep rise in the adoption of Video Interviewing (VI) technology. In the most recent class of CandE Award winners, 75% use Video Interviewing. Nearly 80% of companies with more than 5,000 employees have conducted Video Interviews (1.) The number of organisations likely to buy a purpose-built Video Interviewing solution has increased by 30% over the last two years (2.) But how does VI influence an organisations ability to assess diverse talent?

VI is often used to replace first stage telephone interviews – and allows assessors to physically see candidates earlier on in the recruitment process. Candidates sit ‘one-way interviews’- where they record a response to pre-recorded questions, or ‘live interviews’- where candidates interact with interviewers in real-time.

The Pros

VI can provide significant cost and resourcing efficiencies within a graduate/ volume process, for example cutting candidate travel costs by up to 67% (4). With candidate populations being often dispersed, VI enables a globally accessible and easily replicable process. This in turn supports a positive candidate experience. All organisations are trying to keep technological pace and satisfy the demands of the tech-savvy Generation Y or “Digi-Natives” that feel more at home engaging with digitally advanced organisations in ways they engage with life in general (VI through mobile-enabled assessment as an example.)  More advanced solutions enable ‘brand building’ and personalisation, through pre-recorded welcome videos and real-time interactions. This can be hugely beneficial to enhancing a diverse candidate experience as well as ensuring messaging is targeted to specific diverse cohorts. From a D&I standpoint, it guarantees that the same questions asked of each candidate are asked in the same way, and because the responses are recorded we can work to better disrupt the bias that is often hard to counter in a decision making environment where there is high cognitive load – e.g. back to back assessment and decision making fatigue that opens us all wide up to bias led decision making can be better managed.

We can also more easily achieve more of a diverse and “perspective broad” assessor group. We aren’t as limited by aligning individual schedules on the day of a physical candidate visit. Rather than a hiring manager reading typed up notes from recruiters from the first stage interview, they too can see the candidates respond on screen to questions, meaning we can involve the perspectives of more diverse individuals earlier on in the process.

The feedback we receive from our clients about implementing VI is predominantly very positive.  The key areas which are shared with us are linked to the good candidate feedback clients receive about the process, the effectiveness of VI as a screening tool, and finally, the efficiency gains-from both a cost and resource perspective.  One client has reported time to hire decreasing by 15 days after implementing the tool, as candidates are able to complete the interview remotely and at a time that suits them.

The Cons

VI enables assessors to flick easily between alternative candidate recordings. Exposure to the physical image of candidates can lead assessors to lean on their own bias, taking into account factors such as physical appearance, accents and social cues.  There is a concern that the immediate world of tinder type preference, swiping right and left, could be employed here – we need to ensure that the information received doesn’t encourage selection based on physical appearance.   As a validation it could be useful for some organisations to experiment with exposing some assessors to just the audio of recorded VIs.

Additionally one-way VI, as opposed to telephone interviews, removes the ability of interviewers to probe further into responses, resulting in interviewers falling into an assessment trap - using first impressions to inadvertently validate their bias, and possibly progressing candidates on a basis of style over substance.

Guiding Principles

For organisations thinking about adopting VI, a key consideration should be alignment with the diversity aspirations of the organisation, as well as when and how it is likely to be used within their recruitment process.

  • Employers should aim to drive an optimal experience. E.g., utilising features that personalise and introduce the interview experience can enhance the diverse candidate experience
  • Ensuring interview and assessment criteria are relevant and consistent across all candidates is crucial. Criteria should clearly link to the role and its core requirements.
  • Interviewer training is essential.  Ensuring interviewers are aware of their own unconscious bias and are reminded to consider these biases pre any VI, will help drive fair and equal assessment. Companies could take advantage of this technology to carry out scoring ‘audits’ to check for assessor consistency.

In summary

While bias-led recruitment decisions are arguably impossible to eliminate completely, organisations demonstrating a commitment to achieving their D&I targets across their whole assessment process, can certainly take steps to ensure that this technology can work for them and their candidates in a positive way.

A cynic could suggest it comes down to competing objectives and what is more important to an employer - driving operational efficiencies, or actively seeking to address diversity imbalances within their workforce?  In our opinion, used appropriately, the benefits of video interviewing can definitely outweigh the risks– and in fact VI can be used to build the consistency and awareness about bias we need to champion across all progressive and technologically enhanced recruitment.

 

 References

(1) Cited in Montage Talent 2013: Video Interviewing Goes Mainstream: Large Employers Accelerate Hiring.

(2)Cited in Lighthouse Research & Advisory’s white paper, The Evolving Value Proposition of Purpose-Built Video Interviewing.)

(3) High Fliers Research Limited; ‘The Graduate Market in 2016’; 2016.

(4)  Cited in:  http://www.launchpadrecruits.com/insight-articles/recruitment-costs-video-interviewing

 

 

 

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