Job Interview Tools Include AI Facial Scanning. Guidelines for Ethical Use in Recruiting

Should HR let candidates know they are being subjected to facial scanning during the hiring process?

Recruitment technology has experienced a boom since the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). What once were tasks performed by humans have been replaced by algorithms. Much of this has been developed out of necessity, as recruitment professionals are overwhelmed with the amount of administrative tasks that sourcing, screening, interviewing, and selecting candidates requires.

In an increasingly competitive and global economy, recruiters are leaning heavily on technology to obtain and keep the most desirable employees. The impact that recruitment technology has on many organizations is an improved candidate experience stemming from more streamlined and responsive processes. For recruiters, having access to more data on candidates is helping them gain better insight, which can predict the success and longevity of future hires. A great example is the 95 percent employee retention rate that IBM claims it has due to the use of AI-enabled recruitment tools.

The good news? It’s not just things like salary and perks that influence an employee’s decision to stay or go.
The good news? It’s not just things like salary and perks that influence an employee’s decision to stay or go.

With job quit rates at their highest in a decade, it is imperative that employers make the move to job interview tools and candidate selection technology that uses a data-driven approach. There is no further need to use gut feelings in hiring. It has come down to a technical approach that combines best in class recruitment practices with real hard facts. The information furnished by AI recruitment technology and job interview tools helps make this process more efficient and cost effective.

What tools can get the job done  – interview technology advances

One of the more recent job interview tools that uses AI to screen candidates is that of facial scanning. According to a recent post by Steven Bartlett, CEO at Social Chain, “the software is reportedly being used by US company HireVue and will analyze tone of voice, vocabulary, and facial expressions to determine candidates’ suitability.” It claims to be more effective at helping recruiters select candidates based on linguistic and facial characteristics, cross-referenced against pre-hire personality and skill assessments.

Sounds straight out of Science Fiction, doesn’t it? However, Bartlett is quick to point out that because the software is designed to evaluate candidates based on their performance in a video interview, this could actually introduce bias into the process for those candidates who may not conform to the “norm”.

Consider the candidates who may have trouble articulating words or using good eye contact during a video interview — how will the AI face scanning rate them? Candidates who get nervous during interviews, or have handicaps that impact speech, or just look differently could be weeded out despite their job-qualifying talents.

Then let’s consider the candidate experience. Bartlett posed the question, “How would you feel if AI was assessing you in an interview?” Is it HR’s responsibility to let candidates know how they will be evaluated and how these factors connect to the actual job role? If they refuse to participate, should this eliminate them from consideration?

To better understand the technology of AI job interview tools, and the candidate perspective, some more research was in order. Minda Zetlin, Co-author of Thevdsocial network (instead of the tedious application), after which the candidate participates in a few “neuroscience-based games intended to evaluate their personalities”. Then candidates move on to the video interview, which they perform using preset questions, while the AI measures their facial expressions. This is all happening in the background while the candidate submits his or her profile.

From the candidate side of things, this could be viewed as convenient because there is no need for travel or trying to sneak in some time off from a current job to attend an in-person interview. The process can be completed on a mobile device, and the candidate can avoid the long process of drafting a cover letter and sending a resume. From the recruiter’s side, the video and data for each candidate can be viewed at their convenience, on the go, and subsequent interviews and communication can take place in one platform. Videos and profiles of candidates are shareable. This shareability can involve other members of the decision-making team, including management and future team-mates.

It appears a growing number of companies are already using this technology, from Dunkin Donuts to Unilever Brands. The later claims to have increased ethnic diversity and opportunities for college students in poor communities to obtain entry level positions, as a result of using facial scanning. This is attributed to eliminating unconscious human bias that comes with traditional interviewing methods.

Scientists not immune from gender bias, Yale study shows

Studies have consistently shown that recruiters struggle with unintentional bias, for a number of reasons. Much of this has to do with ideas about the successful outcome of each candidate for specific roles. For example, Yale University research found that both male and female scientists who are trained to be objective in hiring, were more likely to view men as more competent over women and consequently hired men more often. The benefit of seeing a candidate and having AI evaluate their abilities can generate more information to go on besides personal preference.

Informing candidates how to prepare for an interview

To return to the earlier question, “Should HR let candidates know they are being subjected to facial scanning during the hiring process?” In this era, candidates want and deserve transparency from organizations. Many are tech-savvy and already know that various aspects of their lives are monitored on a daily basis, from smart devices listening to their conversations to traffic lights equipped with cameras. Therefore, it is the ethical responsibility of every business to inform candidates that they can expect to be evaluated by facial scanning technology.

Information for candidates on how to prepare for an interview using new technology can be helpful. A quick checklist of what the process includes, how much time and what information is needed can be of great value to candidates. A brief tutorial on how candidates can maximize their video interview is even better. For candidates who are apprehensive, this can be explained as a way to make the experience more positive and to ensure they are matched up to the right career opportunity.

At the same time, employers need to be clear that the use of AI in hiring technology must be linked to the actual requirements of each job. Assessments and activities presented to the candidates must be relevant to the work that candidates will eventually perform as an employee. The reason for using facial scanning should be clearly explained to every candidate and they should be given the choice to opt-out if they do not feel comfortable with this. Give candidates another method of applying that allows them to utilize other features (like the video interview) so they aren’t at a disadvantage from other candidates.

Lastly, human reviewers of candidate data should be mindful of their own biases and leave these out of the hiring equation. No decision should be made on the appearance of a candidate or some other identifying factor. Instead, recruitment technology should be left to do its job and provide all the insight needed to make the best decision. Allowing other people into the process can help to reduce bias, as no two humans perceive things the same. Team hiring decisions combined with information provided by job interview tools can indicate the best decision for each job role.

Certain advantages of using job interview tools and recruitment technology include consistency in how every candidate is processed. In traditional recruitment, “there is no determined model for how it should be conducted,” according to research, and there has been a disconnect between the activities of recruiters and the expectations of job seekers. This has resulted in multiple layers of steps that can make hiring more difficult and time consuming.

Before using AI enabled recruitment technology, make sure it’s the right choice for your organizational objectives. Learn what information can be obtained using this method and does it enrich your current recruitment process? Ask others on your team how they will work video interviews and assessment data into their decision-making. Consider how job interview tools can streamline and improve the candidate experience, as well as how it can shortlist candidates sooner to focus on those that are most suitable for hire.

AI facial recognition, candidate assessments, and video interviews all have their place in recruitment and will continue to be used for making hiring more accurate. Used responsively, this can improve the quality of hire for many organizations.


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Written By

Tess Taylor

The Founder of HR Knows, a corporate content, consulting, and career coaching firm in New York and the Founder and Managing Editor of The HR Writer, a popular blog in the Human Resources and Recruitment scene. Contributor to CakeHR.