What if they don’t know they are acting on biases? Here comes the dreaded two words we all get sick of hearing, UNCONSCIOUS BIAS.
Dun Dun Duuuuun.
This isn’t your regular blog about unconscious bias; because we aren’t in regular times. This is a blog about unconscious bias during the VIDEO interview process. And I know many of you are conducting video interviews.
Things are weird; we don’t have a choice but to use a webcam and talk to a screen to land a job. On the other end of that screen is an interviewer looking directly at you and asking you questions about if you’re a fit for the open position. Plus, there are a hundred additional questions running through your head:
Do I look at the camera?
How do I look at my interviewer in the eyes?
Can the interviewer hear me okay?
Will my internet remain stable? What do I do if it does go out?
Does it look like I have too much makeup on?
Can I look down at my notes?
Is there a glare on my glasses?
What’s the webcam equivalent of shaking hands?
Should I wear pants? (C’mon, you know the answer is yes to this one)
On the other hand, the interviewer might not give AF about any of the things you are thinking. Their focus may be on something else, maybe the buddha figurine on your desk? The fact that you have a wagon wheel on your wall or that they can see the corner of what looks to be a litter box?
Wait, did I go there?
Yes, I did.
Let’s be honest people, do you think I believe that the modern architecture-loving person who HATES cats is NOT going to think about that during the selection process?
Of course they are! That person will deny that they’re participating in any biased thinking, I’m sure of it. Here’s the thing, it’s freaking called UNCONSCIOUS—the part of the mind which is inaccessible to the conscious mind but which affects behavior and emotions—for a reason. Simply put, you don’t know that you’re acting on a bias.
So, as a candidate in a video interview, you need to be proactive in addressing your space. Before you connect to your video interview, check the view. Some things to make sure you’re addressed:
Angle Don’t become a MySpace model with a severe overhead shot or one that focuses on your chin. Different computers have webcams in different locations, so make sure your camera is as close to eye-level as possible. You might have to get crafty to prop up your screen, but it will be worth it to have the correct angle.
Lighting I get it, you’re not a lighting director for a major motion picture, but you still need to understand your lighting situation. DO NOT sit in front of a window or other intense light source as your camera will focus on that brightness and you’ll look like a dark blob. Also, think about overhead lighting – it can create a halo effect or cast a strange light. Ultimately, diffused (by a curtain) natural light will serve you best.
Décor Distractions I recommend you remove what you can from your background and what remains isn’t polarizing. Make sure what you do keep is neatly organized.
Interruptions Kids, dogs, cats, other roommates can all interrupt your video interview. When setting up, try to find a quiet place with a door. Don’t forget to tell your housemates what’s going on. If you are interrupted, you have two options: ignore or acknowledge. You’ll have to make the call as to what works best in your situation.
What are we going to do about managing unconscious video interviewing? Are we hiring one person over another due to their decorating preferences, religious choice, or favorite animal?