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All Isn't Fair in Screening and Interviewing!

By Kevin Grossman

I fielded some great questions during my main-stage session at the last ERE Recruiting Conference in Austin, Texas, especially around screening and interviewing. I emphasized that regardless of the interview type (phone, recorded, virtual, in-person), the crucial factors are candidate engagement and thorough preparations before, during, and after the interview, which is the difference between a mediocre candidate experience and a more positive one. When screening and interviewing candidates, they are often not treated equally or fairly. Allow me to explain.

In fact, according to our CandE Benchmark Research from 2023 (we’re in the middle of our 2024 program), that very candidate engagement and preparation resulted in a 41% higher interview fairness Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating (a +100 to -100 scale). I know that fairness is subjective, but when candidates “felt” the process was positive and fair, they were more likely to continue to engage the business and the brand they had applied to, even when they didn’t get the job. And most won’t. That means they’ll apply again, refer others, be a brand advocate, and even be or remain customers for consumer-based businesses.

One of the questions that came up at the end of my session was whether the interview type impacts the candidate’s experience. That is, is one type perceived as more fair than another, like one-way recorded video interviews, for example? The answer is yes.

When we convert our rating scales to the +100 and -100 NPS scale, it’s clear which type of interview gets the lowest ratings: the recorded video interview, whether for all candidates, hourly, or professional (see table below for 2023 and 2024 CandE data to date).

Candidates want to be able to show themselves off in the best way possible, which means interacting with the screeners and interviewers. Although I understand that the recorded one-way video interview has screening value for employers, all candidates in our 2023 benchmark research rated their fairness experience 30% lower than an in-person interview. The difference is slight in 2024, but we’re also still collecting data and that gap will likely increase.

The differences are similar when you compare hourly versus professional screening and interviewing. In 2023, professional candidates rated their fairness experience 33% lower than an in-person interview. So far, in 2024, that difference is 71% for professional candidates.

Screening/Interview Type and Perception of Fairness NPS

Again, we know “fairness” is subjective, but the picture is similar when we analyze the stand-alone screening and interviewing candidate ratings.

There are other significant differences in screening and interviewing hourly versus professional candidates. Here are some of those differences from our benchmark research:

  • 84% of hourly candidates had 1-2 interviews vs 65% of professional candidates (a 26% difference).

  • As the interviews climbed to 3-4, professional candidates had 70% more at this volume than hourly.

  • Hourly candidates across industries tend to have a quicker interview stage overall, with fewer interviews that can conclude with being hired onsite. Fewer candidates in both camps had this many interviews, though – 13% hourly and 27% professional.

  • At 5+ interviews, professional candidates had 90% more interviews at this volume than hourly.

  • There were even fewer candidates in both camps for this many interviews—3% were hourly and 8% were professional.

  • 56% more professional candidates had phone screens with recruiters than hourly candidates, but 85% more hourly candidates had in-person interviews than experienced candidates.

  • Professional candidates had 90% more virtual interviews than hourly candidates.

  • Companies have definitely saved a bunch of time and money not flying folks in for interviews (which started during the pandemic). Virtual isn’t always the best experience for candidates, but in our 2023 research, there was only a 4% difference in interview fairness NPS ratings between virtual and in-person interviews.

Based on this research, the other question that came up was how many interviews are too many interviews. That’s always such a difficult question to answer, but many variables impact experience by job type, industry, region, etc. But what we do know is that it’s not necessarily the number of interviews that deteriorates candidate experience; hourly will usually always have fewer interviews than professional candidates as you can see above.

No, what truly deteriorates candidate experience and perception of fairness is a lengthy recruitment process. Time delays are among the most significant contributors to a poor candidate experience. Moreover, it signals a lack of respect for the candidate’s time. Our global benchmark research consistently shows that one of the top reasons candidates drop out of the recruitment process is because they feel their time is disrespected during the screening and interviewing stages.

Every. Single. Year. That could mean anything from delayed interviews, too many interviews over a longer time, rescheduling interviews too many times, recruiters or hiring managers not paying attention to the candidates during the process, little to no prep and follow-up afterward, etc. These scenarios always result in lower candidate ratings and their perception of fairness. Recruiting teams and hiring managers can and should improve these activities.

According to the poet John Lyly, “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war.” That may be true, but in recruiting and hiring, all isn’t fair in screening and interviewing. And your candidates will tell you that again and again and again.


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