The social and power dynamics in face-to-face job interviews are unbalanced.
- You have the interviewee, who’s hoping to join the organisation interviewing them. Interviewees are typically anxious because they want to do well.
- You have the interviewer, who’s trying to find the best person for the position but is concerned that their biases might influence their choice.
Ideally, the job interview gives both sides the chance to know more about each other, so that both can make the right decision. After all, it’s not just the hiring company that gets to choose. The applicant gets that option as well.
There’d be no sweaty palms, partiality, preconceptions, or bizarre interview questions.
Unfortunately, job interviews are quite the opposite: stressful, subjective and commonly one-sided. And yet, it remains the most preferred method for evaluating candidates.
Text-based chat reduces stress
We think it’s it’s uncontroversial to say job interviews are nerve-racking; in fact, there’s empirical data to back it up. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 9 out of 10 Americans fear the experience.
And when someone is anxious, expect it to affect their performance. Apprehension can keep candidates from thinking clearly and confound them when asked a difficult interview question.
Remember: nervousness can impact an applicant’s body language and ability to communicate, which are key factors that they must control if they want to do well in a job interview.
More importantly, having a bad interview is unfavourable for candidates and employers alike. Why?
- Qualified candidates miss out on a coveted job.
- Companies miss out on possibly great hires who failed the interview because they were anxious.
Now consider how different an interview would be if it’s done over online chat or texting. Candidates won’t have to:
- Worry about their appearance.
- Rush and travel to the interview.
- Deal with little details that may intimidate them, like an unfriendly interviewer who speaks loudly or asks questions aggressively.
Because the interview is conducted over online chat or text, the candidate a) gets to conceal their anxiety and b) benefits from having a little more time to think about and edit their answers.
This arrangement, of course, doesn’t eliminate anxiety completely, but it certainly helps curb the stress to a more manageable level.
Curtails implicit bias
Implicit bias is defined as “attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner”. We’re unaware of and have no conscious control over it.
If so, how do you minimise implicit bias? The best way is to anonymise your applicants. With SMS or online chat interviews, personal attributes that may unconsciously influence your decision (e.g. age, gender, appearance) are concealed.
Here’s proof that anonymising works: blind auditions have helped orchestras eliminate bias against hiring women. By having musicians perform behind a screen, juries choose candidates purely by performance.
Text-based interviews take out non-essential details and distill candidates to their experience and achievements, enabling you to focus on making unbiased decisions. Furthermore, it gives candidates a fairer shot at desired roles and ensures companies don’t miss out on great hires.
Reviewing interviews is easier
Evaluating a face-to-face interview can be a little tricky. You can take notes during the interview, but you’ll need to assess the candidate right after while the experience is still fresh.
Otherwise, you can record the whole thing (provided that you get the candidate’s consent) but this will likely just make your interviewee more nervous.
With a text-based approach, evaluating interviews is easier. Conversations are automatically stored on the messenger’s servers, and you can always copy everything then save it in your own storage.
When the interview is on paper, it’s easier to look through the entire conversation. You can even search using key terms to find specific replies. Plus, you can easily share transcripts to colleagues involved in the hiring process.
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