Before video interviewing software, everything from the initial phone screen to the live interview was a low-tech operation. Now, thanks to interview technology, we have efficiency, and we have options. Options for candidates to interview during off hours from the comfort of their own space. Options for recruiters to review candidates throughout the day, rather than in predetermined time blocks. Options for hiring teams to collaborate and share feedback in real time.

Of course, with these options come questions: Do video interviews promote bias? What does compliance look like? How do employers ensure it? And what does all this mean for candidates? We’ve seen these questions come up repeatedly over the years, especially as the technology continues to advance, incorporating new features around AI and facial recognition. So let’s get to the bottom of bias and compliance.

The truth about the B-word

Bias is something organizations are taking big steps to avoid, and for a good reason. Besides being bad for your reputation, more than one study points to the benefits of a diverse workplace, including one that shows a 20% increase in innovation. Still, when it comes to interviewing (or anything), change makes people uneasy – especially when we’re talking about inserting a piece of technology that will influence a hiring outcome.

The question of how to avoid bias in video interviewing first came up about ten years ago, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) responded by offering the following guidance: “Before using video resumes and other video screening devices, a covered entity should proactively formulate and communicate to selection officials how the video resumes can assess specific qualifications and skills that are necessary for success in the position. Additionally, a covered entity could require that several people assess each video resume in relation to the stated job requirements.”

In the years since, video interviewing has come to provide much-needed structure and alignment for everyone involved in hiring. So much so that today’s solutions are likely less biased and more defensible than traditional, unstructured interview methods.

Keeping up with compliance

Like bias, compliance is another area of concern, and somewhat of a moving target for employers. What does it mean to be compliant? The answer to this question keeps evolving, in light of recent legislation. Following the 2010 EEOC letter above, the commission revisited video interviewing several times, most recently in 2018. Here, the EEOC explored video (or “digital”) interviews in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Again, the EEOC reiterated that interview technology, specifically digital, does not violate any existing legislation, going on to recommend that employers include language inviting candidates to contact them (the employer) with any concerns.

With the enforcement of GDPR and newly passed Illinois Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act, compliance goes even further and now includes the candidate’s explicit consent. Unlike in-person meetings or even phone screens where consent is implied in the invitation, under these laws, scheduling a video interview requires a candidate’s permission before moving ahead. That’s first and foremost.

Then, there’s the even larger topic of AI and the underlying logic that’s being used for selection decisions. With hiring algorithms and facial recognition software being built into video interviewing platforms, legislators have called for greater transparency, prompting solution providers and employers to re-think any black box methods they have in place.

Best practices going forward

We know from years of video interviewing that structure reinforces the process (and the results!) This differs immensely from phone screens and face to face interviews, where hiring teams are unlikely to ask the same questions of every candidate, letting impromptu conversation guide the way instead. With video interviews, each candidate gets the same questions, the same time to think, and the same time to answer. When reviewing responses, your panel uses an evaluation form to identify core competencies, values, and so on. This approach reduces bias, and ultimately liability, when compared to unstructured methods.

That said, newer technologies in video interviewing, particularly those leveraging facial recognition software, demand continued conversation and consideration. That’s why states like California are considering limiting use until vendors can guarantee the purpose and efficacy of these features. While we wait to see where legislation and innovation take us, it’s in the best interest of hiring organizations to arm themselves with knowledge and resources, which can then be passed on to candidates. Following EEOC guidelines might mean you err on the side of over communicating the purpose and intended use of any technology used for hiring. This will help eliminate any lingering doubts and ensure compliance all around.

For a deeper dive into bias, compliance, and best practices when using AI, watch: AI, Algorithms, and How to Make Great HR Tech Investments.