Risk of Using Video Interviews to Screen Job Applicants
New Internet technologies are changing the way companies screen job applicants. Some companies don’t even want to look at traditional résumés any more, and are instead asking applicants to send links to their online activities or – the latest thing – to submit video interviews. Several start-up companies provide sites to record and transmit the pre-screening interviews, usually short sessions where applicants answer a few questions posed by the hiring firms. It’s convenient both for hiring firms, which get more information than they can glean from paper trails alone, and for applicants, who can record the videos on their home computers.
But is requesting video interviews a wise move for hiring companies? The videos, typically “talking head” images shot from the waist up, can reveal far more information than traditional paper résumés about applicants’ race, age, gender, national origin, disabilities and other factors that federal, state and local laws prohibit employers from using in discriminatory ways. If employers consciously or even unconsciously use that information when making hiring decisions, then they become vulnerable to discrimination claims. Similar issues arise when applicants submit video résumés on their own initiative. A survey found that 58% of large-firm senior executives, aware of the risk, won’t accept or look at video résumés that they have been sent.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission issued an informal discussion letter about the legality of using video résumés and other online videos to screen job applicants. While discussion letters are not official statements of EEOC policy, they do give an idea of how the EEOC approaches these questions.
The letter says:
EEO laws do not expressly prohibit the use of specific technologies or methods for selecting employees, and therefore do not prohibit the use of video resumes. The key question under the EEO laws is how the selection tools are used.
Conscious unlawful discrimination based on information seen in applicants’ videos clearly violates the law. The EEOC letter gives this example:
If a Title VII covered entity identifies an applicant’s religion from viewing her religious garb in a video resume and rejects her application for employment on that basis, the covered entity has engaged in unlawful employment discrimination in violation of Title VII.
However, even unconscious bias can cause problems, the letter says:
The EEO laws prohibit “not only decisions driven by.….animosity, but also decisions infected by stereotyped thinking.” Because viewing a video may trigger unconscious bias, especially if opportunities for face-to face conversation are absent, covered entities should implement proactive measures, or best practices, to minimize this risk.
WeComply’s training courses in Questionable Interview Questions and Preventing Discrimination and Harassment help managers identify and deal appropriately with legally significant issues that arise during the hiring process.Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: Employment Discrimination, Interview Discrimination