"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers"
Asynchronous Video Interviews (AVIs) are also known as on-demand interviews or digital interviews. AVIs involves an interviewing process in which job candidates and interviewers do not meet or speak in-person. Instead, interviewers use an online platform to create an interview, by uploading written or video-recorded interview questions for candidates. Candidates are then invited to log into the platform to view and respond to the questions on their own time. The candidate records themselves answering each question with their computer webcam or their smartphone camera.
The online platform then makes their videos available to the hiring manager or interviewer to watch and assess. In some cases, video responses can also be automatically rated/scored by a computer (powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence). To clarify, AVI is different from videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, Facetime), as the interviewers and job candidates complete their tasks at different times without direct communication.
AVIs have become very popular hiring tools. There are many providers of AVI technology on the market (e.g., HireVue, VidCruiter, SparkHire, Cute-e, YouSeeU, ConveyIQ, MontageTalent). And many large corporations have incorporated AVIs in their hiring process. However research on that topic is only emerging,
AVIs can take many forms and offer organizations (and job applicants) many choices. For instance, AVI platforms allow modifying the time candidates have to prepare their response before recording it, the maximum length of their response, whether they can re-record multiple responses to the same question, etc. Interview questions can be written or recordings of a manager asking them. And, applicants responses can be assessed either by a computer or by an actual manager.
All those features likely influence candidates' anxiety during the AVI, their use of impression management tactics, their performance, or their reactions toward the selection process. They might also influence the quality and veracity of information obtained by the organization, and thus the value (e.g., reliability, validity) of the AVI.
This what the research I conduct with Dr. Josh Bourdage and his team at the University of Calgary is about. This research (supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant #435-2021-1115) is ongoing via our own AVI platform. We have recently published a scientific article describing the key elements of AVI design (see here). See also our blog post on The Conversation Canada (here).
In one study (see here), we examined whether it matter if applicants are provided with more or less preparation time, or given a chance to re-record their responses. We found that not all interviewees actively use the opportunities offered to them (to prepare or re-record). The mere fact of offering such opportunities did not impact interviewees' reactions or behaviors. However, those who actually used those opportunities had a different AVI experience. For instance, interviewees who used more preparation time and re-recording options performed slightly better in the AVI. Engaging in more preparation and retries made interviewees use less honest and deceptive impression management tactics, respectively. Importantly, honest tactics led to higher interview performance, whereas deceptive ones did not.
In another study (see here), we explored if applicants' AVI experience could be improved by increasing the level of media richness, specifically by replacing text-based introduction to the interview and questions by videos with a hiring manager. We found that increasing media richness helped improve interviewees' perceptions of social presence in the AVI, which indirectly reduce their interview anxiety, and facilitated using impression management tactics (and especially those targeted toward the interviewer or organization). Higher media richness also helped interviewees perform better in their AVI.
AVIs are still relatively new and stressful for many applicants, who might rely on training offered by AVI providers, coaching service, or advice videos (do's/don’ts) on YouTube or other sites/social media. Many resources are available, but we know little about their effectiveness. For instance, can AVI training help reduce applicant anxiety? Help them better structure their responses? Demonstrate their qualifications (or, in contrast, generate more faking)? Or lead to higher performance in AVIs?
We conducted two studies with North American participants completing an AVI for a project manager role. In Study 1, participants watched a 16-minute training video (vs. not) and were offered the chance to practice using the AVI platform before the actual interview (vs. not). They then completed a 5-question AVI, and filled out self-reported measures of reactions, anxiety, and impression management use. Their video responses were coded for structure (based on the STAR method) and rated for performance. Study 2 focused on training only, relied on a sample of active job seekers, and included a second round of interviews.
Neither training nor practice had a strong effect on self-reported anxiety, reactions, or impression management (except slightly higher fairness perceptions). However, in Study 1, interviewees who received the AVI training provided longer and more structured responses, and indirectly obtained higher performance ratings. In Study 2, people who completed a first AVI without training, then received the video-training and completed a 2nd AVI, improved their response structure and performance (while those who were initially trained did not improve in their 2nd interview). In short, AVI-specific training can help! (see paper here).
This is the AVI training video used in the studies described above.
Many organizations and job seekers emphasize the benefits of using asynchronous video interviews (AVIs) as a flexible, cheaper, and efficient tool. But can AVI also have a “dark” side and create or amplify bias in interviews?
AVIs require applicants to record video responses to interview questions, to later be reviewed by hiring managers (or AI). But most applicants complete AVIs from their home. As such, elements visible in their background (e.g., pictures, artwork, or other items) might provide hiring managers with information about who they are that would otherwise be “invisible”. For instance, a family picture could inform that the applicant has children, a rainbow flag might signal their sexual orientation, or a poster might suggest their political views. We tested this in a series of experimental studies (see paper here). We found that applicants depicted as parents were perceived to be higher on warmth and received higher interview performance ratings, but were not evaluated more negatively on competence or potential work performance. There was no effect of sexual orientation on any outcome variables. However, applicants who supported the same political party as the evaluator were viewed as warmer and received higher ratings of interview performance and potential work performance.
AVIs can also help organizations reach talent pools worldwide without issues associated with scheduling or time zones. But what happens if raters are evaluating several applicants who are more or less culturally-similar to them? We explored that question in two studies. We found that UK raters provided the highest ratings to culturally-similar Canadian applicants, whereas applicants from more dissimilar cultures (Poland, Spain, Chile, or Germany) received lower ratings. However, the South African candidates were rated as 2nd-best in both studies, and Indian candidates received positive ratings in the first study. So culture plays a role, but many other factors matter too (see paper here).
In another study (see here), we examined the role of background location and blurring options on evaluations. We found that final AVI ratings of an applicant were related to the initial impression they created (based on only a video introduction of a few seconds), but were largely due to the quality of their recorded responses. However, we found no effect of background location (i.e., whether the applicant completed their AVI in a home office or a bedroom) or when they used background blurring.
Feel contact us if you want to know more about this research, or would like to practice with AVIs.