Can I Discriminate Against Boring People? Yes. Yes I Can.

Dawn Burke Dawn Burke, Employment Law, HR Technology, Influence, Interviewing, Recruiting, Video Interviewing

If you haven’t heard, video killed not only the radio star, but also the resume. The resume isn’t dead yet, but the video interview is a naughty vixen pulling the hiring manager’s attention away from traditional resumes. Video is the Blanche DuBois to the resume’s Stella Kawolski. Stella gets the job done, but Blanche kicks things up a whole ‘nuther level.

So, here is the deal.

I’ve started using a video interviewing platform and it’s great. Hiring Managers love it. My recruiters love it. Most candidates love it. It saves time for all and is effective. Fab.

However, several candidates on video are boring. I mean super boring. Like, I think they are putting themselves to sleep. Like, I’m ready to channel my Showtime at the Apollo “Sandman” and give them the hook. Like, I’d rather scrub my porch. Like, I’d rather watch my phone recharge. Like, I’d find reading the dictionary more entertaining. Like, they make rice cakes seem like chocolate cake.

So I got to thinking, can I discriminate against someone because they give a boring interview (live or on video)? On the surface of it, I think the answer is yes. Of course, with the disclaimer that the only people you find “boring” aren’t a protected class.

I think there is an assumed presumption that a typical resume is boring. But also a presumed expectation bringing in short “live-action” segments (aka 2-minute question responses on video) should be at a minimum more engaging than reading. So when a candidate channels Droopy-Dog live, it’s a double punch to the gut.

I do think some candidates need a reality check regarding the power of new mediums in the workspace. At the end of the day, no matter which way an employer assesses your skills (video, live interview, resume), candidates need to do everything they can to engage. The odds are simply not in the candidates’ favor if they don’t – the competition is too fierce. Like, Christian Siriano fierce.  I mean have you seen this interactive resume!  And this thing is 3 years old!

But recruiters – you are also to blame for slews of boring videos. How? By not doing everything you can to mitigate the bore.

Here are some tips on how to make videos a win-win for both you and the candidate.

  • Determine why you are using the video platform. Is it simply for efficiency (I want to get to the good stuff quickly) or are you trying to determine energy, communication excellence, or the ability to engage. Once you determine that…
  • Tell the candidate what you are looking for. It’s not enough to say, “just be yourself!” If you are trying to ID how natural they are, how great they communicate, or if they can engage others, then tell them to channel their inner “Hamilton” and “not throw away their shot.” Set the standard, then tell them they need to deliver, BIG time, in an engaging way.
  • Give the candidate some best “video interview” tips. Remember, video interviewing is still new to the masses. If your candidate doesn’t regularly Facetime their loved ones, then seeing themselves on camera may be a shock to the system. Most video interview platforms have links you can share with candidates. Here is another good one as well.
  • Ask questions with a 1-minute response time vs. a 3-minute response time. If it’s decided you’re using video interviewing to make the process more efficient (quicker), then your tolerance for boring needs to be elevated. To help, and if appropriate, simply make the response times quicker. It’s amazing how much you can get out of a 1-minute candidate response.
  • Practice makes perfect. Tell them to practice on their smart phone if they are “nervous” in front of a camera. Video platforms allow candidates limited “practice” time. If they need more, give them a little heads up they’ll need to do it before they log on.
  • Assess if the boring issue is really your problem. Sometimes you just aren’t in the headspace to watch videos or read resumes. You better check yourself before you wreck someone’s chances for a shot.

Most of all, always remember HR Pros, we are pulling for the candidate to perform well. If you do everything to help the candidate succeed on a video platform and they “throw away their shot”, then discriminate away.

This post is sponsored by the recruiting pros at Jobvite, who, each month, let FOT write about a topic that will help recruiters raise their games via continuing education. Be on the lookout later this month for the new FOT video series called “No Scrubs”—also brought to you by