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Why we should approach job video interviews with caution

The use of technology to speed up the recruitment process is not new. And in most cases it’s been a good thing. But are some of the recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments taking it too far?

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
A woman doing a video interview

The use of technology to speed up the recruitment process is not new. And in most cases it’s been a good thing. But are some of the recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments taking it too far?

For over a decade now, many recruiters and hiring managers have been using simple programs that scan CVs for keywords about skills, education, work patterns and past employers. While these have worked reasonably well and have sped up the recruitment process, there are many CVs that never get scanned because of formatting issues, so for candidates who don’t understand how technology is being applied to their applications, this is not ideal.

In the last few years, we’ve seen a range of other tools being introduced — screening questions, quizzes, psychometric tests and games that are used to reject a candidate before a human ever even sees an application. More recently video interviewing and the use of AI applications are being peddled as the next big thing.

Video interviewing sounds like a great idea

On the face of it, video interviewing sounds like a great idea. At the simple click of a mouse, candidates answer a few standard interview questions directly to the camera on their phone, smart tablet or computer.

Under the ‘old’ video interview process, the recruiter or hiring manager could then sit back and review each video in their own time and make a quick decision about who they think might be the best fit for them or their client. Those candidates are then usually invited in for a F2F interview on the back of their video interview. The thing of note here is that it’s a human making that decision.

Or you can take a step further into the ‘new’ world and subscribe to an AI software program to tell you who the ‘best-fit’ candidates are. These new, efficient programs use algorithms to monitor thousands of scarcely noticeable changes in eye movements, hand gestures, posture, facial expressions, vocal tone and even the choice of words you use in your responses, and make a decision about your suitability for the job based on that.

Now, you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable, right?

But it all sounds very modern and efficient. And it is. But is it fair and equitable? Or does it simply provide an advantage to a select group of humans?

The truth is the jury is out on this one. There simply isn’t enough longitudinal research available to make any sweeping assumptions. But anecdotal evidence suggests that dehumanising the recruitment process to this extent disadvantages both candidates and clients and renders professional recruiters to no more than servants to a robot.

I’ve dipped in and out of using video interviewing technology for 8 years — RecruitLoop had a video interviewing tool built into its application — and while it was useful on some occasions, on the most part it failed clients, candidates and recruiters. Depending on the type of role, sometimes as many as 72% of applicants refused to complete the interview, or couldn’t complete it because they didn’t have a device that could handle the technology requirements. Either way, the candidate pool was significantly reduced to a point that no recruiter could hand on heart say they were presenting the best candidate to their client.

So, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of moving to a video interviewing process in your business.


  1. It speeds the process up. There’s no doubt being able to ‘interview’ multiple candidates simultaneously speeds up the process for everyone involved — the candidate, the client and the recruiter. Some reports suggest the hiring cycle can be reduced to as short as 4.5 days by using technology more efficiently.

  2. It’s cost effective. Being able to process dozens of screening interviews a day enables recruiters to work on more projects at a time and that’s always good for the bottom line. Research suggests time spent interviewing is 50% of the hiring cost, so anything that can cut this down is welcome.

  3. Unconscious Bias is removed. The algorithms have no conscience, so presumably there’s no bias being applied and every candidate is being treated equally.

  4. Can quickly assess verbal communication skills. For those roles that require strong interpersonal and relationship building skills, video interviews can quickly identify those candidates that have the most effective engagement skills — they way they dress, talk, present their ideas and their non verbal gestures are as easily assessed in video as they are in person.

  5. Screening remote candidates is easy. If you’re open to candidates who may be looking to relocate from regional Australia or perhaps your role is a WFH opportunity, then video interviewing is a huge bonus for everyone.

  6. Easier for candidates to participate. No more having to take an afternoon off to attend an interview or time spent working out the fastest bus route to the employer’s office! Video interviews let you do the interview wherever you want at a time that suits you.


  1. Internet connection and video quality issues. Nearly all the video interview platforms around require up-to-date hardware and a stable and fast internet connection. Unfortunately, neither of these criteria can be achieved by everyone here in Australia. And poor connections mean poor quality videos, so even if you present well normally, empirical research confirms that the AV quality of the interview determines your hireability as poor — recruiters and hiring managers simply rule you out and move on to a video they can watch properly.

  2. Technologically unsavvy candidates. Sometimes jobs don’t require the level of technical skill you need to do the interview. In these cases you may be missing out on the best candidates because they have either been unable to complete the interview or didn’t attempt it because they lacked the confidence.

  3. Limited time for candidates to respond. For those candidates that have trouble logging in or technical issues midway through the interview, the imposed time restrictions on answers are not adjusted accordingly, thereby creating a detrimental situation for the candidate — they either lose the chance to answer a question or become so flustered they don’t come across well.

  4. Cannot probe for more information. The majority of video interviews are one-way and candidates are given a limited time to respond to each question. This means you can’t probe for clarification of anything said in a response — it’s often what a candidate doesn’t say that is the most revealing. So, those candidates who have perfected style over substance will often progress to the next round even if they aren’t the most suitable candidate.

  5. Candidate privacy cannot be guaranteed. Sadly, I’ve seen too many cases where a candidate’s video interview is quickly shared around the office for everyone to have a laugh, either because their performance is stilted or their appearance is deemed worthy of ridicule.. Apart from this just not being fair treatment of a candidate who has participated in the process, it is a serious breach of their privacy.

  6. Fertile ground for stereotyping. If it’s true that we make up our mind within a matter of seconds based on someone’s appearance, then video interviews are not going to favour those that are less attractive. Even if they are the most suitable candidate based on their skills and experience, they may not even get a look-in if their video interview prevents them from getting past the first gate, simply because the person viewing it doesn’t “engage” with their appearance. The whole environment is ripe for subconscious bias to be a big player in the selection process.

  7. Bias can be built in. While the algorithms beaver away and make their recommendations, it is humans who set the parameters of what the algorithms need to be looking for. There is nothing stopping “white” and “male” from being included. In 2018, Amazon stopped using AI recruitment tools because they were found to be discriminating against women — the algorithms were set to exclude resumes that included the word “women” — e.g. “Captain of the Women’s Chess Club” and any mention of female colleges the applicant may have resided in.

  8. No guarantee you’re seeing the ‘best’ candidates. The truth is that video interviews provide a huge advantage to those people who are more physically attractive, more extroverted, speak without an accent, are owners of newer devices and/or live in places where they enjoy good internet connection — none of which may be essential to doing the job.

  9. Dehumanises the recruitment process. Research to date supports the fact that candidates feel dehumanised when asked to participate in a hiring process that relegates them to an algorithm. This feeling of dehumanisation will often be the seed that determines how they in turn engage with the rest of the process and company that ends up hiring them.

Technology is here to stay

The increased use of technology in the hiring process is inevitable. The pressure on recruiters and hiring managers to deliver candidates faster and more profitably is ramping up all the time and no more so than now, in a time when company profits and staffing numbers have been so seriously impacted by the financial crisis that has accompanied the global Coronavirus pandemic.

The challenge for us all, if we choose to engage with the brave new world of AI, is to be sure we can ‘hand-on-heart’ say that we have identified and delivered the candidate with the most suitable skills and experience, not just the one with the latest computer, a pretty face, an enthusiastic personality and a gender or racial background that the hiring company prefers.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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