Zoom meeting on laptop COVID-19marks a unique opportunity for companies and hiring managers totake a hard look at existing methods of doing business andtransform them with newer, more efficient processes. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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COVID-19 is forcing many businesses to rapidly rethink the waythey operate – from transforming their revenue models, to working,hiring and onboarding remotely. While unemployment numbers are at ahistoric high, many businesses are looking ahead to rehire as theeconomy begins the journey to recovery. As we begin that process,employers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink theirhiring processes and permanently change the way they hire and bringD&I goals to life.

The first step to rehiring with a commitment to diversity

Even before the pandemic, it was clear that we still have a longway to go before we achieve real diversity in the workforce, andthe Black Lives Matter movement has brought this important issue tothe forefront. And while corporations have committed to variousdiversity initiatives in recent years (e.g. diversity trainingprograms), more changes need to be made to achieve the improvementswe all desire.

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Related: Diversity, inclusion and belonging: How do we getthere?

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A recent meta-study showed that hiringdiscrimination against Black applicants in the US hasn't changed in25 years and has only slightly improved for Latino jobseekers. Yetwhen companies surround themselves with diverse workers, thebenefits are tenfold – teams can collaborate and brainstorm withdifferent perspectives, companies experience lower turnover rates,and studies have even shown that as more women havejoined the workforce over the last 50 years, wages have grown forboth men and women thanks to the talent pool becoming morecompetitive.

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For many companies that still have room for significantimprovement in their D&I efforts, not knowing how tosuccessfully source diverse candidates in a consistent, efficientway is the first major obstacle to making progress.

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Whether intentional or not, traditional in-person methods ofinterviewing are often filled with steps that often prevent diversecandidates from moving forward in the process. Resumes can serve asa major roadblock for diverse candidates, especially when companieshave policies in place that prevent non-college graduates fromapplying to openings. Recruiters often spend hours filteringthrough hundreds or thousands of resumes for a single position.This makes it easy for unconscious bias to enter the recruitmentprocess, in ways many don't realize – like prioritizing a candidatewhen an alma mater or familiar-sounding last name isrecognized.

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Another example is the way hiring managers bring candidates infor on-site interviews. While in-person interviews are often usedas a way to get to know a candidate better, they also serve as adouble-edged sword. Humans constantly seek out ways to connect witheach other, and base hiring decisions on arbitrary traits likewhether or not they got along with the candidate or had hobbies incommon rather than performance indicators.

How technology can help prioritize D&I in rehiringefforts

One of the best ways to ensure a level playing field is throughvirtual interviewing. While virtual interviewing has been a growingtrend for several years, the pandemic has escalated its use due tosocial distancing measures. Now, many businesses are turning tovirtual interviewing for the first time to meet demand and willsoon realize there's no reason to revert back to traditionalmethods once the economy reopens. COVID-19 marks a uniqueopportunity for companies and hiring managers to take a hard lookat existing methods of doing business and transform them withnewer, more efficient processes that can help permanently level theplaying field

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Virtual interviewing is a win/win for both candidates andemployers. One advantage is the accessibility it affords.Candidates can record their interviews at any time, making it easyfor those who work a 9-5 job or serve double duty taking care ofchildren to interview for new positions when it's most convenientfor them.

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Using on-demand technology to deliver structured interviewsimmediately expands the talent pool and improves the fairness ofthe process for all candidates. At the same time, it helps reducehuman-generated biases by delivering the same experience to everycandidate, thereby leveling the playing field in importantways.

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On the employer side, recruiters can remain laser-focused on acandidates' traits/skills that predict success in a future role,uncover talent where they least expect it, and sort throughthousands of applications in a matter of hours. Skills-basedpre-hire assessments can be added to on-demand interviews, ensuringconsistency by asking every candidate the same open-endedquestions, giving each interviewee a fair and objective method ofevaluation.

Common misconceptions: Combating bias with science

Virtual interview tech companies work to train the algorithmsused to create virtual interview assessments on an ongoing basis,working to mitigate the impact of conscious and unconscious humanbias in the interviewing process. Industrial-organizationpsychologists perform a Job Analysis to closely analyze each jobrole to determine which competencies or traits have been shown toresult in job success. Then, assessments are created that focus onmeasuring only these job-specific competencies.

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Many companies uphold themselves to a rigorous standard to makesure bias doesn't creep into the process. In the US, many followwhat's called the "4/5th Rule" — the Equal Employment OpportunityCommission's Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures —to test algorithmic assessment models and ensure they do not havean adverse impact against specific groups (including gender, raceand age). By building upon these standards and seeking out inputfrom a team of external data science researchers, hiring technologycompanies can make sure that the interview process remains fair forall candidates.

Virtual interviewing is here to stay

Now that the country is beginning to reopen and many companies(including Twitter, Square, Facebook and others) are moving toallow their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis, it'sonly natural that the recruiting, interviewing and onboardingprocesses will become virtual, too. All sectors and industries canbenefit from using technology to hire at scale with D&I inmind, which can expedite the hiring process from weeks to days tokeep up with demand. As companies look to fill positions with asubstantially larger talent pool to choose from, now is the timefor them to implement technology to cast a wider net and prioritizediverse hires — permanently.

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Kevin Parker is CEO of HireVue, which hashosted nearly 15 million virtual interviews for many companies.They've seen many customers accelerate their interview timelinesfrom months/weeks to a matter of days, while keeping D&Iefforts at the forefront.


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