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Recruiting via Video: Balance Efficiency with Accessibility

Happy African American remote employee talking on video conference call to colleagues, sitting at computer monitor, speaking to audience, attending virtual business meeting, negotiations, seminar

Does your company use video to share information with job candidates or employees? Companies whose websites are not accessible to people with disabilities may be at risk of being sued—and the claims are piling up. Accessibility can also have a disparate impact for candidates who may be economically disadvantaged or live in areas with limited connectivity.

What steps should HR and talent acquisition leaders be taking to ensure that their use of digital technology doesn’t disadvantage any candidates?

Inclusion, Diversity and Unconscious Bias

Taylor Queen is senior HR advisor with national HR services provider Insperity, based in Kingwood, Texas. Queen said there are three primary areas where use of video may impede the talent acquisition process: lack of understanding, decreased engagement and unconscious bias.

“If candidates are not familiar with the video interview platform already, they may not understand how to use the software,” she said. “That can leave candidates feeling frustrated, uncertain and anxious, which can harm their performance during the interview.” This lack of awareness is more likely to impact employees with less education and may have a disparate impact on underserved communities.

Human interaction is clearly an important part of the recruitment process. These connections can be impeded for candidates with hearing or vision disabilities when employers use video for interviewing.

Video interviews can also create a greater risk of unconscious bias for two reasons, Queen said.

First, a video interview may exclude candidates who do not have access to their own computer and camera equipment or who lack home internet access. Second, video interviews may take place in the candidates’ homes if they don’t have access to another private location. This, she said, could result in recruiters making “unconscious judgments about the candidate’s qualifications based on their home background or their family, even if the recruiter had the best of intentions.”

Accessibility and AI

The use of artificial intelligence for candidate assessment can lead to problems, as well, said Kate Kalcevich, head of accessibility innovation at Fable, a Toronto-based online platform that allows digital teams to involve people with disabilities in research and on-demand user testing.

“Using AI combined with video to analyze participants’ behaviors can lead to incorrect data on people with disabilities, who often can’t be accurately assessed by an AI system,” she said. “Any group of people with a wide variance in attributes can’t be easily evaluated by a system that lacks training in that variance. This is the case with disability.”

In addition, she added: “While ‘disabled candidates’ may be considered one demographic group, in fact, there are many, many differences in ability and characteristics that are impossible to effectively train an AI system on.”

Kalcevich recommended that talent acquisition professionals and recruiters consider whether AI is appropriate to use in these situations and, if AI analysis of video recordings is used, to determine “what human oversight can help you avoid discrimination based on disability.”

Being aware of the potential for risk is the first step in helping to avoid discrimination claims.

Best Practices for Minimizing Issues

Taking a practical approach can help minimize issues. For instance, don’t make a video interview the only option for candidates. “Make it clear that candidates may instead participate in a phone interview or come into the office,” Queen said.

Proactive and clear communication with candidates can also avoid issues.

“Always let candidates know if video will be part of the interview process and ask about their access needs so that you can prepare in advance for the video support they need,” Kalcevich said.

Queen added that it’s also important to share step-by-step instructions well ahead of video interviews. “Ideally, a video interview platform will offer a ‘test’ functionality for candidates to check their camera and microphone in advance,” she said.

Along with clear instructions, Queen suggested offering candidates tips on best practices for video interviewing, such as how to troubleshoot tech equipment or find a location with good lighting. “These tips can help candidates relax and feel more prepared during the interview.”

In these instructions, she recommended, request that candidates blur their backgrounds. “A blurred background can reduce the risk of unconscious biases based on the candidate’s living space or interview location,” she said.

Tamara Spasojevic, talent acquisition manager at, a technology firm offering an integrated suite of tools for collaboration, productivity and innovation based in Palo Alto, Calif., suggested interviewers discuss company culture in detail during each step of the selection process.

“This can be done by directing the candidate to the company’s social networks or by giving examples of real events and activities of the company,” she said.

But keep in mind that the viewing of video content may also be problematic.

“Pre-recorded videos should consider the needs of applicants who might not be able to see or hear the content without accessibility enhancements,” Kalcevich said. “A spoken description of what is shown in the video—known as audio description—will help blind applicants understand the content. Captions can help people who are hard of hearing, and sign language for people who are deaf. Text transcripts of the audio track of a video can also help many candidates.”

Finally, Queen recommended, make sure to consult with legal counsel about potential risks related to video interviews or the use of videos as part of the hiring process. This is especially important, she said, if video hasn’t been used previously or if new software is being implemented. “For example, some states have privacy or wiretapping laws that could apply to recording a video interview,” she said.

Video technology can be a great aid in the talent acquisition process by saving employers both time and money, but it can also represent significant risk if it’s not managed with accessibility and equity in mind. Be proactive in taking steps to minimize these risks while staying on top of emerging laws and regulatory requirements that may impact your organization.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.


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