During a disaster as vast and destructive as COVID-19, most of the headlines are all about “disruption.” And rightfully so: the pandemic upended our lives in countless ways, from how and where we work to how we communicate. But there are also many ways COVID-19 demonstrated that the status quo wasn’t working – why were employees driving millions of extra miles every year when they could do their jobs remotely? Why were companies paying huge sums of money for offices they didn’t need?

It isn’t just remote work that has proven its value over the past year and a half – digital communication and collaboration platforms have also made it possible for companies to revamp the way they approach many operations, such as how they hire. While many hiring managers may have viewed video interviews as a reluctant necessity during COVID-19, this form of assessing candidates also offers a wide range of advantages over traditional hiring practices. Video interviews can reduce bias, increase efficiency and consistency, and provide many engagement tools that in-person interviews lack.

While many of us are eager to get back to normal as the pandemic wanes, hiring managers need to take a hard look at whether “normal” is getting the job done. And one of the clearest ways they can challenge the status quo is by exploring video interviews – a proven method of finding top candidates quickly and reliably.

How video interviews can make hiring fairer

For many job applicants, bias and discrimination are facts of life. For example, Black and Asian candidates who delete references to their race on resumes appear to be more successful at landing interviews, while women face prejudice when they submit identical CVs to men. As a 2019 article in the Journal of Management notes, it’s “widely acknowledged that subgroup bias can influence hiring evaluations.” The researchers also found that “even seemingly trivial amounts of subgroup bias can produce practically significant rates of hiring discrimination and productivity loss.”

There are many ways video interviews can be used to address these issues. While some hiring managers want to see who they’re talking to, they can also conduct video interviews without video to minimize bias based on a candidate’s appearance or surroundings. Video interviews can also be standardized or structured– they can be pre-recorded and sent out to many candidates at once, which cuts down on arbitrary variations in interactions between interviewers and interviewees (which can be due to prejudice, whether conscious or not). There is ample evidence that structured interviews–that is, interviews in which all candidates are asked the same questions and their answers are graded in a rigorous way–are much more effective predictors of success than are unstructured ones. One of the reasons for this is that structured interviews reduce the number of ways in which unconscious bias can creep into the selection process.

As an article published by Harvard Business School explains: “In non-standardized interviews, there may be a set of questions guiding the conversation but there is little consistency across the experience for candidates. Often this is where unconscious bias can manifest itself.” Harvard professor Francesca Gino observes that standardized questions – which can be delivered more consistently and to a greater number of candidates with video interviews – minimize bias by “focusing on the factors that have a direct impact on performance.”

Making the hiring process more predictive

Speaking of the factors that have a direct impact on performance, it’s essential for hiring tools to be capable of identifying the skills and characteristics that can accurately predict how well employees will perform on the job. This is why hiring managers shouldn’t just rely on resumes, cover letters, and other forms of self-reporting – more than three-quarters of job-seekers say they’ve either lied or would consider misrepresenting their qualifications on an application. Men also tend to lie more frequently than women on their resumes, which only increases the disparities that already exist.

Beyond the fact that resumes and cover letters often provide a distorted view of a candidate’s skills and experience, even the accurate ones don’t necessarily tell employers how effective candidates will be in the real world. This is why assessments that measure traits such as cognitive ability and conscientiousness are vital – these traits are highly predictive of job performance, and video interviews provide many opportunities to identify them.

Because video interviews can be conducted one-way, they can be sent to hundreds of prospective employees at once. While traditional in-person interviews can be incredibly time-intensive, pre-recorded video interviews can serve as a replacement for the phone screen – providing standardized and objective information on a candidate before inviting them to a more formal interview, whether it’s in-person or remote.

How hiring platforms can keep up with a rapidly shifting economy

As the global economy recovers from COVID-19, companies are scrambling to process an influx of applications. Hiring managers have never been under more pressure to find high-quality candidates and they have more applications to sift through than ever, but they don’t have any more time to do so. By allowing companies to reach a large number of applicants simultaneously with a consistent set of questions and assessments, video interviews give hiring managers an opportunity to screen, hire, and onboard employees more quickly and reliably.

It’s clear that remote work is here to stay – a Gartner survey found that 90 percent of HR managers say employees will continue to work from home even as vaccination rates increase. Just as employers recognize the value of remote work in terms of productivity gains and employee morale, they’re also discovering how effective video interviews can be. Less than one-third of HR leaders say they have the talent they need, while 65 percent of job applicants say they’ve abandoned an application because they found certain elements of the company or job unattractive. It’s time for hiring managers to leave this status quo behind, and that’s what video interviews can help them do.