From Bottleneck to Bias: Challenges of Traditional Interview Screening

Traditional Interview Screening: A Bottleneck in Modern Recruitment

In the fast-paced digital age, businesses are continually adapting to stay ahead, but one crucial area seems to lag: the recruitment screening process. While we've seen technological leaps in almost every corporate domain, traditional interview screening remains a stumbling block for many organizations. It's the bottleneck that strains resources, prolongs hiring timelines, and often results in missed opportunities. In a survey from Talent Board in early 2023, 38% of the 300 Talent Acquisition professionals surveyed, take 4 or more days to screen applicants after an application submission, and 79% take 2 or more days. This delay causes a significant risk to the organization because top candidates can be poached by competitors who move faster during this process. The survey also showed 51% of Talent Acquisition rate the experience of screening, scheduling and interviewing candidates ≤ 3 out of 5, in terms of speed and efficiency. Despite advancements in many corporate processes, the outdated practice of manual screening in recruitment persists, presenting numerous challenges that we will now explore.

Pandemic Aftermath: Overburdened HR and the Need for Efficient Screening

These challenges we will explore, were further exacerbated by recent global events, reshaping the very landscape of the HR industry. During the pandemic, hiring slowed down and HR personnel, especially recruiters, were among the first to be laid off. This led to many talented HR personnel changing careers and not coming back, creating a shortage in the industry. Now overburdened HR staff must spend hours sifting through stacks of resumes, which is a very time consuming and laborious task. Therefore, it’s important for organizations to reevaluate and adapt their screening processes. By understanding what is an on-demand interview, which we will discuss in future blog posts, they can ensure they remain competitive and responsive in securing top talent in this rapidly changing HR landscape. 

Challenges in Authenticity: The Rise of GenAI Tools

Recruiters often face challenges when judging the authenticity of a candidate based on their resumes. Unqualified candidates can lie or embellish their resumes, leaving an inaccurate representation of themselves. A survey, in the second month of Q2 2023 by ZipRecruiter, of 2,000 recently hired US adults, showed that 25% used a GenAI tool, such as ChatGPT, to help them with their job search. Of those, 65.9% used it to write their resume and 57.1% to write their cover letter. The survey also said that employers are more concerned about the possibility that candidates may game the application process, due to the rapid adoption of GenAI tools. Therefore, as GenAI tools become more prevalent, recruiters must employ advanced digital hiring strategies to ensure the genuineness of a candidate's credentials, beyond their resume.  This could be the reason why a rising percentage of new hires report that their job interviews involve questions about their prior work experience (46.2% in Q2 2023 up from 38.6% in Q1 2023 and 37.3% in Q4 2022). They report that specific factual questions about past performance may help employers to vet candidates. 

Bias in Resume Screening: A Long-Standing Issue

One issue regarding resume screening, which is neither new nor inconspicuous, is bias. This has been well documented over the past 20 years. In 2003, MIT and University of Chicago School of Business researchers sent out 5,000 resumes to 1,250 employers. Brendan, Gregg, Emily and Anne (last names: Baker, Kelly, McCarthy, Murphy, Murray, O’Brien, Ryan, Sullivan and Walsh), received 50 percent more responses across the board than Tamika, Aisha, Rasheed and Tyrone (last names: Jones, Robinson, Washington and Williams). One researcher said “There was as much discrimination for the cashier-type jobs as there was for jobs like assistant to the president.” Also, a University of Wisconsin–La Crosse study from 2014, found that candidates with Black-sounding names received 14% fewer interviews than white-named peers. Meanwhile, a Harvard study from 2017 showed that marginalized candidates received more callbacks when racial identifiers were removed from resumes, with notable increases for both Black and Asian applicants. Bias when screening resumes still exists today and there are many forms: gender, ethnicity, age, resume design/style/layout, hobbies, personal preferences, as well as indirectly with sports/extracurricular activities that are often associated with specific genders, races, or economic backgrounds. Despite years of awareness and research, systemic hiring biases continue to persist, underscoring the need for comprehensive and conscious strategies to address them. 

The Inconsistency Problem: Lack of Standardization in Manual Resume Review

Another problem with manual resume screening is the lack of standardization. Without a standardized scoring system or set criteria, the process becomes more about individual perception than objective evaluation. Different recruiters might prioritize skills or qualities slightly different, making it hard to compare candidates fairly and gut feelings may come into play. All of this may lead to prolonged discussions and disagreements about which candidates should move forward, which can delay the selection process and lead to the wrong candidate being pushed forward through the process.

Lost in Translation: Communication Challenges in Manual Resume Screening

Manual resume screening can allow for communication challenges to permeate throughout the process, which can delay the hiring process and lead to poor decision making. Firstly, a recruiter's inability to remember specific resume details can lead to miscommunication. Also, the rigorous demands on both recruiters and hiring managers can result in delayed feedback, sometimes causing multiple team members to review the same resume unknowingly. Additionally, hiring managers might occasionally miscommunicate crucial details about qualifications or red flags to recruiters, leading to less accurate candidate filtering. Considering these challenges, transitioning away from manual resume screening could significantly streamline the recruitment process and reduce potential miscommunications.

Scheduling Chaos: The Ripple Effects of Manual Resume Screening

Manual resume screens also contribute to scheduling delays and conflicts. After resume review, the hiring team still needs to schedule the initial verbal interview screen, which further delays the process. In the previous mentioned survey from Talent Board in early 2023, 26% take ≥4 days to schedule an initial interview after the resume screening process, and 70% take 2 or more days. Also, scheduling conflict arises as some resumes may be screened faster than others, leading to an inconsistent and inefficient schedule, as some days may be full of scheduled candidates and some not. Therefore, the manual screening of resumes not only extends the recruitment process but also disrupts the uniformity and efficiency of interview scheduling.

Candidate No-Shows: The Hidden Cost of Manual Screening

As mentioned above, manual resume review causes delays. A candidate may “no-show” as they chose another job that moved them through the hiring process quicker. In the previously mentioned ZipRecruiter and Qualtrics survey of 2,000 recently hired US adults, 30% of respondents admitted to ghosting an employer at some point during their recent job search, up from 21% from Q4 2022. No-shows waste time for the recruiter who prepared for the meeting, as they could have spent that time slot with a qualified candidate. This may have also tied up conference rooms or company resources reserved for this interview. Thus, it's clear that the inefficiencies of manual resume review not only impact the recruitment timeline but also squander valuable resources, emphasizing the need for a more streamlined approach. 

Unfit Candidates: The Limitations of Manual Resume Screening

Even if the manual resume screening process is miraculusly not compromised by any of the factors mentioned so far, interviewers still might find themselves wasting time interviewing unfit candidates after the screen. Certain important aspects of a candidate are simply unfilterable with the manual resume screen such as speaking poorly of a previous employer, complaining, certain communication skills, having unrealistic salary expectations, being unwilling to relocate/work requested hours/learn new skills, etc. Therefore, the inefficiencies of manual resume screening not only compromise the quality of candidates but also waste valuable time and resources after the screen, underscoring the need for improved vetting mechanisms. 

Time for Change: The Urgent Need for Modernization in Recruitment Screening

As businesses continue to adapt to the digital age, the recruitment process should not be left behind. The drawbacks of manual resume screening have been made abundantly clear. It's crucial for organizations to reevaluate and modernize their hiring methods. For instance, understanding what is a digital interview and implementing such approaches can mitigate traditional challenges. Adopting technology-driven solutions like automated voice screens or virtual job tryouts, will not only speed up the hiring process but also ensure that the best candidates are selected. Adopting technology-driven solutions and consistent screening standards will not only speed up the hiring process but also ensure that the best candidates are selected. Sticking with outdated methods is no longer viable; it's time for businesses to invest in a smarter recruitment future now, rather than waiting for further consequences and their competitors to invest first.

The Future of Recruitment: What's the Best Solution? Find Out in Our Next Post!

As we've uncovered the adverse impact of traditional interview screening, it's clear that the industry needs transformational change. But what factors will drive this transformation, and what solutions are modern businesses adapting? Join us in our next post as we delve into the latest industry trends shaping the future of recruitment screening, offering a glimpse into the evolving landscape of talent acquisition.

"...employers are more concerned about the possibility that candidates may game the application process, due to the rapid adoption of GenAI tools. Therefore, as GenAI tools become more prevalent, recruiters must employ advanced digital hiring strategies to ensure the genuineness of a candidate's credentials, beyond their resume."