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How Can Recorded Interviews Reduce Bias?

Removing bias from the recruitment process is a crucial concern for employers. A biased or inconsistent interview process is potentially damaging to all parties. From a candidate point of view, they may receive unequal treatment due to factors beyond their control, and from an organisational point of view, they may fail to identify the best applicant for their role.

Many of the examples of conscious or unconscious bias found throughout the face-to-face interview process are just as evident in phone or video interviews. However, when these interviews are recorded and referred back to later, it’s possible to remove some of these biases.

There are two main ways to achieve this, recording live interviews for later review (these can be in-person or via video/phone call) or using a pre-recorded (on-demand) video interview platform, such as QFinds, to gather candidate-generated video responses. We’ll look at the differences between the two approaches and assess which is more effective in reducing bias.

Standardising the interview process

The first step in eliminating bias within the recruitment is to ensure the consistency of the interviews themselves. Different interviewers will have different styles. Some may choose to use pre-scripted questions. Some may alter the questions according to how the conversation is going. Some may approach each interview in a completely ad hoc manner. Unfortunately, this is a perfect breeding ground for bias.

The Academy to Innovate HR offers the following advice on reducing bias in an interview scenario:

“For each job, have a set of questions that you ask every candidate. This way, you don’t veer into similar-to-me bias as well as inconsistency in questioning. You won’t accidentally forget to ask one candidate about X, and then reject that candidate because X is an important skill.”

This advice applies to any type of interview, although with real-time interviews, whether they are recorded or not, there’s still a risk that the interviewer may veer from the predefined script. Even if they stick to the pre-planned schedule, there can be differences in how individual interviewers present or prioritise specific questions, leading to inconsistency.

With pre-recorded video interviews, that problem is removed entirely, with identical text-based interview questions being presented in precisely the same order to each candidate, with no potential for individual questions being missed or glossed over.

Ensuring equality of experience and access

How the interview is conducted is not the only source of bias. It’s also important to look at where, when, and with who it was conducted.

Humans are not machines - there are multiple factors that affect our mental performance either positively or negatively. This is just as true for candidates as it is for interviewers. With traditional face-to-face interviews (as well as phone or video calls, to an extent), there is a range of contributing factors that may lead to unfair advantages for one candidate over another.

Maybe candidate A had to travel further than other applicants and is tired from the journey. Or perhaps candidate B happened to have their interview scheduled for the last day of the month when the hiring manager is distracted by completing their sales report. Or candidate C arrives for their meeting, but the manager is out with illness, so they complete their interview with a more junior member of staff.

It’s easy to see the many different reasons why no two interviews are the same, and this can have a significant effect on how candidates are perceived. With pre-recorded video, much of this potential for inconsistency is eliminated. Candidates can pick the right time and place for them to complete their response; interviewers can review each application when they are able to devote their full attention to it.

Removing geographic and time-based limitations also allows organisations to interview a much broader and more diverse pool of candidates, reducing the effects of selection bias in the first rounds of the recruitment process.

Keeping a reliable and accurate record

While most of us like to think we have excellent recall, particularly in professional situations, human memory is notoriously unreliable. The way information is presented, the situation we’re in, or how we’re feeling at the time all affect what information we retain and what we forget.

In a 2020 article for Forbes, Polina Wilson, People Director at Unruly highlighted another common source of bias in traditional interviews - the primacy/recency effect - which she defines as “remembering the very first and very last thing people say and tending to block out what was said in the middle. This also goes for the first and last person you interview. Hiring managers may have a stronger memory of the last candidates interviewed.”

Recorded interviews allow hiring managers to review and revisit particular questions, picking up on information they may have missed the first time around. And they can involve more of their colleagues in the process, leading to less chance of individual biases affecting the final decision. Where there are several recruiters involved in the process, the order in which each person reviews a set of recorded interviews can be randomised, so no one candidate is always first or last.

QFinds on-demand video interviews are ideal for this purpose, allowing hiring managers to share, score and discuss candidate submissions through a central platform to enable collaborative hiring. In addition, recorded interviews provide a valuable data source for future audits and allow organisations to review their end-to-end recruitment process in line with their equality and diversity policies to ensure compliance.

In summary

On balance, while recording real-time interviews has a number of advantages, pre-recorded interviews delivered through a platform like QFinds offer even greater protection against the introduction of conscious or unconscious bias.

Ultimately, it’s a question of transparency. Employers, candidates and stakeholders need to trust that the recruitment process is a level playing field, where every applicant is given an equal chance to demonstrate their suitability for the position. The easier it is to share, review and revisit the interview element of the process, the better it is for everyone involved.

Of course, no process is perfect, but with openness and transparency, employers are better equipped to identify any issues of bias or inconsistency and make continual improvements to the process over time.