How Recruiters Can Reduce Implicit Bias in Video Interviews

COVID-19 has changed the way companies do business worldwide, including processes like hiring new employees. Companies that were accustomed to conducting traditional in-person interviewing were forced to begin video interviewing during the pandemic.

Since video interviewing has become such an essential part of many organizations’ hiring processes, it’s important to foster diversity in recruiting. To do that, recruiters and administrators must understand what implicit bias is and the ways candidate video interviews can introduce implicit bias in recruiting.

The Pros of Video Interviews

Like every other process in business, there are pros and cons to video interviews. With video interviews, you can skip the hassle of canceled appointments and people showing up late, as recruiters can conduct interviews right from their work computer. Video recruitment is also more flexible to both the candidate and the recruiter’s schedule. Plus, companies that shifted to 100% video interviews have been able to scale their recruiting efforts, allowing them to create efficiencies in the hiring process.

Video recruiting is an important strategy for filling staffing needs for your organization. But just like with in-person interviews, bias during video interviews can affect hiring choices.

What is Implicit Bias?

Implicit bias is subtle, unconscious bias. These biases often revolve around sexuality, race and gender. Our upbringing, culture and media can all affect how we perceive people. It’s challenging to eliminate implicit biases because we usually don’t realize we have them. Most people think of deliberate bias, but not the discrimination that is hidden within our subconscious. But how is implicit bias harmful?

Why is Implicit Bias Harmful?

When implicit biases are active, diverse voices aren’t heard and many talented candidates are excluded. Some implicit biases include:

  • Affinity Bias: When a recruiter favors someone of the same educational background, gender and race.
  • Ageism: When someone is discriminated against based on their age.
  • Confirmation Bias: When we favor information that reinforces our beliefs.
  • Gender Bias: When a person prefers one gender over another.
  • Name Bias: When a person is judged solely based on their name, such as when recruiters review resumes.
  • Weight Bias: When people make judgments based on a person's size or shape.

As you can see, these biases can significantly affect the entire hiring process. So, how do recruitment videos trigger implicit bias?

How Can Recruitment Candidate Videos Trigger Implicit Bias?

Virtual interviews have created new biases. Now, recruiters have the opportunity to judge a person based on where they live and their surroundings on camera. It even has a label: BACKGROUND BIAS.

The candidate's home may look rundown or poorly lit on camera. There may be excessive background noise because children and pets are at home. Even technical issues with the candidate's internet connection can trigger implicit bias for recruiters. Without even realizing it, these factors could cause you to unfairly eliminate the candidate from consideration.

How Can Recruiters Reduce Bias in Hiring Decisions?

Today, many businesses want to reduce bias in hiring decisions and encourage diversity in recruiting. The first step to eliminating it is to recognize implicit bias exists and how it occurs.

A newer technology, asynchronous video interviewing, has become a popular way to reduce how implicit bias affects the hiring process. With this type of virtual interviewing, a potential employee records his or her answers to predetermined questions when it’s convenient for them. Then HR personnel can review their answers later.

This technology helps eliminate implicit bias by ensuring all candidate interviews are consistent and conducted in the same way. It makes it impossible to ask interviewees different questions that may be based on these unconscious biases, unlike standard face-to-face interviews.

However, it’s important to note that even AI isn’t perfect and several hiring tools have been called out for lack of transparency and possible interview bias.

So, what’s the solution considering that video is a vital part of the interview process now? Harvard University professor and behavioral economist Iris Bohnet wrote that consistency and structure in interviews are critical to reducing bias. Ask candidates the same questions the same ways and then compare candidates’ answers across the board to verify consistency.

Other experts suggest establishing a committee to review and vet interview questions in advance as well as the recorded interviews to ensure bias is eliminated.

Tips on Reducing Implicit Bias During Video Interviews

Now that you understand what implicit bias is and how it affects virtual interviews, here are some quick tips for reducing implicit bias in recruiting:

  • Use blind skill challenges where you remove application details like race, gender, age and other factors that encourage implicit bias.
  • Make decisions based on data using predictive analytics, big data and other information-driven factors.
  • Eliminate gendered wording from applications and job ads.
  • Structure your interview process.
  • Provide training to recruiters and administrators on unconscious bias and other biases.
  • Have a diverse team participate in candidate evaluation and selection.

Being aware of how implicit bias affects hiring decisions can illuminate the deficiencies in hiring processes. Whether conducting in-person or virtual interviews, implicit bias is always there in our subconscious, guiding our decisions. Businesses should teach employees how to recognize interview bias and make decisions based on data to increase diversity in recruiting.

Melissa Asher

With over 24 years of experience in human resources, specializing in training and development, test administration, and recruitment, Melissa brings a wealth of practical expertise to her Senior Leader role. As a hands-on leader, she is responsible for the growth and development of CPS HR’s Training and Development and Executive Search Divisions as well as leading key business development activities.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.