With increases in hybrid and distance working, many hiring managers don’t get to meet their new recruits in person before they join. There are of course many advantages to using video during recruitment but what are the pitfalls? Could this evolution in how we recruit make the hiring experience less equitable?

The increased utilization of both video interviews and pre-recorded video responses as part of recruitmentoffers convenience, efficiency and costs savings from both a time and resource perspective. There are no scheduling difficulties to ensure multiple interviewers can all be in the office at the same time or any need to find interview rooms. 

Candidates also get to experience a range of benefits from being able to interview via platforms like Google Meet, Zoom and Teams. There is no travel time  or having to contend with external factors like traffic delays. Barriers for some types of disabilities are removed. Interviewees can use closed captioning features and they would not need to prepare to face potential lack of accessibility on their journey or navigating entry to a building they have not visited before.

There are however many factors that can create inequity in the process. During in-person interviewsthe candidate has a greater ability to carefully control and curate how they present their personal brand. During a video interview there are additional factors, including their physical environment, that the candidate may have less control over. The candidate living in a multi-family home may struggle to find a quiet place to conduct the interview from or it could be a struggle to find a neutral-looking space when a housemate has very distinctive décor on display.It is also not unusual for a candidate to have toinvite the interviewer into their bedroom because it may be the only place where their children would not interrupt the conversation.

Other factors include managing noise levels, lighting, equipment available including quality of a personal device’s video camera and internet connection. All of these factors can contribute to triggering conscious and unconscious bias on the basis of parental status, perceived social and income status, race, religion and other intersecting equity deserving identity groups.

What can recruiters do to mitigate these potential pitfalls?

  1. Don’t make assumptions. Be open-minded about the candidate and don’t attribute environmental factors or distractions to the candidate not being suited to the role.
  2. Give them a choice. Check with your candidates if they are able to accommodate a video interview and if not, be prepared to meet them in person or consider a telephone interview.
  3. Be prepared for a do-over. If the technology isn’t working or there are factors outside of their control, suggest to reschedule.
  4. Ask your co-interviewer to help you check your bias.Conduct interviews in pairs. It is easier to recognise assumptionsor stereotyping if there are two of you looking out for it and holding each other accountable.
  5. Make candidates aware of accessibility options. Do not assume they know the platform you are using. Make them aware of closed captioning features and how to activate it.
  6. Focus on their skills and potential contribution, not their environment. Don’t make judgements based on their environment. Instead focus on what they are telling you about their experience.