By Eric Sydell, EVP of Innovation, Modern Hire
Since the dawn of the modern organization, there has been natural tension between the needs of hiring organizations and the needs of candidates. Organizations need ways to pluck viable candidates from a sea of possibilities, and candidates need ways to gain meaningful employment opportunities through often impenetrable corporate processes. To say hiring is broken implies that it was ever actually ideal. And the truth is, it never was.
Today, we have big data and algorithmic capabilities that can help improve the process for candidates as well as organizations, but how they are designed and deployed makes a big difference. In this article, we will examine one of the most controversial parts of a modern hiring process: virtual interviews.
On the surface, virtual interviews are a great application of webcam and internet technology. Instead of driving your gas guzzler in for an interview, just do it online! And from a logistical perspective, virtual interviews are indeed a great convenience for both hiring managers or recruiters, as well as candidates. Various hiring tech vendors have reported positive candidate reactions to on-demand interviews. For example, iCIMS found that “92% of candidates like on-demand video interviews because they see these interviews as flexible, innovative, and a chance to make an impression beyond their resumes.”
There can be a negative side to using virtual interview technology, however – when the hiring process begins to feel to the candidate like they are dealing exclusively with technology and not actual humans. And as a result, their experience suffers. A web search will easily turn up examples of candidates who dislike various automating technologies, including on-demand video interviews.
In a recent article on the topic, I was quoted on the importance of only scoring data that candidates consciously provide to the employer. This means that when a candidate answers an interview question, only the actual words should be scored using fair artificial intelligence (AI) based methods. The way the person sounds and looks should be off limits. This is a hard line that we have drawn at Modern Hire, and which I believe is the best way to harness AI so that it benefits individuals as well as organizations. Later in the same article, however, a candidate is referenced who voluntarily left a Modern Hire-based interview process because he was asked to complete an on-demand interview. He reportedly did not trust the process and had wanted to make a personal connection with the hiring manager. This is of course any candidate’s prerogative, and in an environment of candidate scarcity, we must expect that some will make this same choice.
As a fellow human being, I understand this type of reaction to a technological process. These types of tools must be used in a careful and harnessed manner; they should be deployed to provide a convenient service for both organizations AND candidates. In the case of on-demand interviews, it can indeed be awkward to record yourself answering questions without the opportunity to interact with another human. That is why it is important to deploy such tools carefully, in a process that provides:
- Full context to the candidate. They should understand how you use this technology and that it is deployed to help better handle the volume of applications so that you can respond faster.
- Personalization options. Organizations should use realistic job previews (emphasis on the “realistic”) to help candidates better understand the nature of their opportunities, and other personalization options to create a more intimate and informative experience.
- Time to practice. Candidates are not generally accustomed to talking to themselves while in a stressful, high stakes job interview. They need to practice to feel comfortable. They also need to be able to redo their answers, and this feature can go a long way to helping ease the burden.
- Detailed information on any algorithms (especially AI) that is being used. In fact, to comply with the Illinois Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act, businesses must allow candidates to opt out of AI scoring if they so desire.
One important point to keep in mind is that live interviews, on-demand interviews, and automated scoring are all separate concepts. At Modern Hire, we offer all those products, but you can use interviews without automated scoring. When candidates worry about AI being used in hiring interviews, much of the time the worry is for naught because AI is not being used at all. If it is being used, organizations are usually legally bound to inform them of that use.
In the course of developing our own AI tools, Modern Hire has done extensive research and testing to ensure fairness. In fact, we have found that our scores are vastly lower in potential for bias than human interview ratings. In our large development sample, automated scores were almost four times lower in their bias level than scores created by trained subject matter experts. The reality is, we humans use a variety of cognitive biases in our decision making that often have a strong negative impact on the quality of our hiring decisions as well as causing bias against protected classes. Properly developed algorithms and AI offer a fantastic path to enhancing the predictive power of selection tools while also minimizing the potential for bias.
Organizations need to deploy hiring technology in a thoughtful way that balances the need for efficiency with the candidate experience. At Modern Hire we talk about the Four E’s of hiring, adding in ethics and effectiveness to efficiency and experience. No process is optimized until it accomplishes all four E’s. And no hiring technology, even ours, should be deployed indiscriminately in a manner that dehumanizes the hiring experience.