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Video Interview & Cognitive Bias

Posted by Kate Choyce on March 13, 2019

Video interviewing is rapidly becoming the norm in HR [1]. It improves the efficiency of the hiring process by reducing time spent on all sorts of administration required for in-person interviews. Pre-recorded interviewing makes even greater increases to this efficiency, nullifying scheduling conflicts and allowing the candidate to interview at any time. But a pre-recorded interview is so much different than a face-to-face one, surely there are impacts associated with it.

Indeed, there is some research to suggest that interviewer bias increases with pre-recorded video, as there is no opportunity for interaction between the parties, and thus bias can be reinforced throughout the viewing of the video [2]. In other terms, this is known as a reduced “social presence” [3] between interviewer and interviewee, or an increased “perceived distance.” The higher the perceived distance, the more critical the interviewer becomes.

However, it’s also the case that this perceived distance is inversely correlated with video quality. Low-bandwidth video, for instance, sees more negative bias from the viewer than high-bandwidth video. There is also considerable research indicating that much of this negative bias is eliminated by heavily structuring the pre-recorded interview [4][5]. For example, negative bias was present in pre-recorded interviews relative to face-to-face ones when the content of the interview was strictly job-relevant questions. But this bias was nearly eliminated [6] when the interview was preceded by accurate, positive information about the candidate (e.g., analytics, behaviourally-anchored rating scales), and when the interview itself was structured to include a highlighting of this as well as job-related questions.

Much of the remaining bias that an interviewer is often faced with, related to age, sex, ethnicity, and other things, are no different between pre-recorded video and face-to-face interview. In fact, an interesting positive impact that pre-recorded video interviews seem to have is a reduction in number and increase in quality of final applicants (i.e., applicants who are either invited to further interviews or are hired)[7]. This at the very least is an advantage over traditional methods, and further justifies the efficiency improvements that pre-recorded video interviewing offers.

The research all seems to point in the same direction: there may be some negative bias associated with pre-recorded interviews, but video quality and interview structure together are enough to essentially eliminate it. It would hardly be prudent to discard the myriad benefits of pre-recording, from time saved to ease of assessment and analysis, on the basis of negative bias, then. By ensuring the highest quality videos are presented to reduce perceived distance, and by structuring interviews in a meaningful way, the adverse effects of pre-recorded video interviewing can be reduced to having a negligible impact on the outcome.


1. OfficeTeam. (2012, August 30). Survey: Six in 10 Companies Conduct Video Job Interviews. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from

2. Van Iddekinge, C. H., Raymark, P. H., Roth, P. L., & Payne, H. S. (2006). Comparing the psychometric characteristics of ratings of face-to-face and videotaped structured interviews. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 14(4), 347 – 359.

3. A conceptual framework for the role of the administration medium in the personnel assessment process. Academy of Management Review, 33(3), 629-648.

4. Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2013). The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 241-293. doi:10.1111/peps.12052

5. Kutcher, E. J., & Bragger, J. D. (2004). Selection interviews of overweight job applicants: Can structure reduce the bias? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(10), 1993-2022. doi: Doi 10.1111/J.1559-1816.2004.Tb02688.X

6. Hausdorf, P. A. (1997). Understanding the impact of pre-interview information on the reliability, validity, accuracy, and differential validity of employment interview decisions: comparisons across interview question type, rating scale and scoring protocols (Doctoral dissertation, McMaster University) [Abstract].

7. ter Harmsel, J. A. (2011). Consequences of Using Video Interviews as a Pre-selection Tool: Results of Interviews and Experiment Combined (Master’s Dissertation, University of Twente).

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Topics: AI, HR Automation, Recruitment Technology, smart tech

Kate Choyce

Written by Kate Choyce

Kate is a driven and focused leader with a solid understanding of how to create successful business’s from nothing in unchartered territory. Her passion to re-define the traditional recruitment space is reinforced by her grassroots design, build and in house experimentation experience.