Do facial expressions hurt video interview performance?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Matsumoto and Hwang (2011) eloquently summarise the study on facial expressions, with these said to consist of various states ranging from Joy to Sadness to Anger. Did you know that facial expressions may be measured as part of recruitment processes for large organisations? Read on to find out more.

What’s the rationale behind measuring facial expressions?

Large organisations get swamped with thousands of applications every single year. The competition for roles always seems to be increasing, with Covid appearing to make every application process that bit harder to pass.

As such, organisations are always faced with the challenge of implementing quicker yet legally defensible strategies to hire the best candidates in a shorter period of time.

The challenge arises with the onset of technology and its impact on recruitment. Technology moves quicker than many other domains given its format and broad reach. As such, it could be argued that recruitment methods reliant on newer technologies are not as tried and tested, as say a psychometric test which has been modelled and used to predict job performance for decades (e.g., Bertua, Anderson, & Salgado, 2011).

Technology has impacted the way we look to select candidates

Unfortunately, this seems to be the case in some domains. Not only do organisations want to hire the best talent, but there are also a growing number making a conscious effort to make the recruitment process more engagingAs Virgin have experienced first-hand, a negative experience with the application process may lead candidates to associate Virgin with something negative, and perhaps avoid Virgin-related products in the future.

Conversely, a positive experience with the recruitment process helps two-fold:

  1. Those that are selected for the job already have a positive feeling associated with the company
  2. Those that are not selected for the job may still revisit the company in the future, either as a customer or applicant

Thus, a company strives to make their recruitment process, quickengaging and legally defensible. Technology plays a part in helping to realise this dream, though the desire to be both engaging and legally defensible is often at odds with the other.

Take HireVue. A large proponent of video interviewing software, HireVue recently came under scrutiny during the Black Lives Matter movement for its use of AI software to map facial expression among other cues to determine a candidate’s suitability for the role. The challenge is related to the parameters that predict candidate suitability. It could be argued that if these are created in a particular country by a particular group of people, then these parameters are subject to the suitability criteria of that country and those people. In the above piece, HireVue state that efforts to combat this include hiring Autistic professionals to account for Autistic representation in the general population. Indeed, this is a step in the right direction and the road to bias-free A.I. is a challenging one.

A balance is needed between a recruitment method being both legally defensible and engaging.

In addition to the suitability of A.I. itself, the other challenge in using Artificial Intelligence to map facial expressions relates to whether extraneous factors influence a candidate’s suitability. Often, candidates’ unfamiliarity with a video interview can result in unfavourable expressions more attributable to the experience itself rather than their lack thereof. It is of no surprise then that organisations themselves now encourage candidates to practice assessments beforehand (e.g., Morgan Stanley). There is no secret formula that will help you ace an assessment, but the familiarity aspect (for AI-powered video interviews especially) is key to put forward your best self, or best expression rather.

That’s not to say objective, empirical and bias-free methods of quantifying candidate suitability through A.I. is an impossibility – rather, how can we be absolutely sure of the latter when we are reaching toward more and more engaging recruitment methods? Indeed, there is a challenge to meet both these bits of criteria.

How are facial expressions measured?

Facial expressions are often measured using plug-ins that are developed to post-process a video recording to detect and interpret different emotion points. For instance, software can detect a mouth and its inflexions to contribute toward a potential output in which the individual is said to be happy.

The example of using Artificial Intelligence in video interviews is a popular one and the primary focus of this piece. Sonru is another leading provider, with the basic idea that not only do you speed up the hiring process by avoiding face-to-face interview appointments, but you also get a bit of extra information to help with selection.

The onset of Covid-19 and virtual recruitment in particular, has resulted in many more companies turning to video interviews as part of their recruitment process.

Can facial expressions affect video interview performance?

Before we delve into this, we need to first consider the process by which an application is reviewed. Take the above discussion; if Artificial Intelligence is being used to determine one’s video interview performance, it may be subject to inherent biases. Of course, these are not at all intentional, and efforts are being made to address these. However, the issue remains: Artificial Intelligence is not necessarily a superior means of eliminating bias when compared to human beings. There is still work to be done here.

Thus, if Artificial Intelligence is being used to determine video interview performance, facial expressions that do not conform to the parameters set by the software design team, are theoretically unfavourable. Preparation for interviews is key and can help alleviate some unpreferred expressions by bringing across confidence and a real know-how of the job role, organisation and field as a whole.

Facial expressions may be misinterpreted during the recruitment process

It is worth noting that some AI-based interviews use multiple cues to determine one’s expression or performance, such as gestures. Confidence in the role will help bring this across in one’s performance, though it can also be useful for candidates to visualise the ideal employee. Promotional videos from the company are also useful, as are recorded interviews, as one can gain a sense of their preferred communication style and needs.

What if a recruiter is reviewing the interview?

Recruiters, especially those working for large organisations, are often required to sift through a large amount of video interview recordings to determine a candidate’s suitability. Potentially, one’s facial expression could be misinterpreted by the recruiter as say, a lack of confidence in one’s ability.

That’s not to say this is the norm, absolutely not. However, there is a likelihood that unfavourable or negative expressions may potentially paint the candidate in a less favourable manner. These nonverbal cues hold greater weighting for progressing two otherwise identical candidates to the next stage of the process.

Concluding thoughts

The onset of technology to quickly sift the best candidates, alongside the Covid-19 pandemic, has resulted in a recruitment landscape in which recruiters look to remain legally defensible, but also provide an engaging experience. The competition in providing the latter brings many challenges, not least the fairness and suitability of newer technologies in candidate selection. As time progresses and technology evolves further, we must too evolve and make conscious efforts to address lapses in fairness and equality in a proactive manner.

Is automated screening software fair?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Automated software is increasingly becoming the industry standard tool for employer recruitment, for companies both large and small. It is no surprise that with the rapid development of technology, employers are looking to exploit it wherever possible to benefit their objectives. Importantly, this software has not yet reached its vast potential, and this poses numerous questions for those applicants who merely appear as numerical entries in this software. Of primary concern is the question – is using such software fair for job applicants, for whom the job hunt is a real life-changing struggle? Such automated software comes in many forms, so let’s explore these, and evaluate some of the challenges that automated CV parsing, in particular faces.

What is automated software – what are we talking about?

Automated software is an umbrella term for those software programs used by companies as part of their wider recruitment processes that generate candidate reports, feedback, and even decisions based on an algorithm. This may include résumé parsing software that sifts through CVs and application forms, or Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is able to decipher an applicant’s facial expressions, behavioural competence and make a decision on who fits the role’s requirements.

From the moment you apply for a role, it is possible that your application is being fed into automatic software that can help employers evaluate and filter your application. For example, automatic CV software looks for certain key elements in the information provided and draws these out to paint a picture of you as a potential employee. Some common elements of your application that they identify are the location of the applicant, the employment and education history, the important competencies and skills mentioned, and how you score on any required assessments.

The competencies that companies look for in job applications varies, however these should be made clear to you in the job description. The competencies that will be particularly valuable depend on the company’s values and the position being applied for. However, the keywords most frequently identified by automatic software are ‘hard skills’ rather than ‘soft skills’. Hard skills are those qualities that you have evidence of and training in, such as your degree, maths ability, IT skills, foreign languages and many more.

Another frequently, and more contested form of automatic software is Artificial Intelligence in Video Interview Software. This software is capable of automatically reading many aspects of your performance, including micro expressions, tonality of voice, and the speech at which you’re talking. These data points that are collected help form a verdict on the behavioural competency of the candidate taking the interview.

How many companies use an Automatic Software?

There are many providers of Automatic software solutions, some of the most popular being HireVue for AI Video Interviews, and Daxtra, Indeed, Hiretual, and many more for résumé parsing.

It is estimated that more than 60% of companies use résumé and CV screening software, with it becoming increasingly more common the bigger the company is. Résumé and CV parsing software has become a common aspect of many companies that already use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), with this requirement most commonly appearing near the very beginning of an application process.

Artificial Intelligence in video interviews on the other hand, has become increasingly popular in previous years, particularly so since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world and forced a shift towards distanced working, learning, and hiring. Some examples of companies using this automatic software are Procter & Gamble and CapitalOne, with HireVue alone having had 700 companies use their Artificial Intelligence supported Video Interviews in some capacity.

Why do companies use automated technology?

Simply put, the reason that companies are so keen to use Automatic Software is to save time and money, legal reasons, and to improve the quality of candidates being hired.

  1. Time & Money: Using automated software to sift through the heap of information companies deal with will save time. It would take many extra employees and hours to wade through and successfully identify the right candidates. And, of course, extra employees would mean further money invested in human resources. It is a far more viable (and objective) an option for companies to spend less money on CV parsing and artificial intelligence video interviewing platforms, which to these companies saves time, cost and increases legal defensibility due to more objectivity (vs. subjective interpretations by a human CV sifter).
  2. Avoiding Discrimination: An extremely important incentive for the use of an automatic software is that it makes abiding by discrimination laws much easier. These technologies do not base the success of an application by an applicant’s perceived or actual gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion; unlike humans who are likely to hold biases, some which they may not even be aware of, based on these features, and are vulnerable to making more subjective decisions.
  3. Accuracy: Finally, the idea behind automated software is to accurately hire the right people. They provide, in theory, a standardized rather than arbitrary way of evaluating the performance of a CV, with some claiming they have 95% accuracy. This implies that risk is relatively low. The score provides the employer with an indication of how suitable the applicant is for that role.

What are the shortcomings of using Automated Software?

Despite the increasing popularity of this technology, there are some drawbacks of using Automated Software in applications made by those that will be fed through the companies’ hiring system. These include:

  1. Contrary to the goal of increasing accuracy (as in point 3 above) to hire the right people for the job/company, some strong candidates can be missed and shunted out of the process unfairly. This is because this technology has not been around long enough to be valid, and is therefore not infallible. This problem largely arises because automated technology is unable to account for the vast number of ways that candidates will express themselves in their application. Perhaps synonyms are used in place of the exact keyword, which are not listed as criteria for the company. The result of this is that a candidate may write a perfect-to-read CV, but it does not get to the next stage when processed by the increasingly specific software. The company then misses a potentially valuable candidate, who is removed from the process, wondering where they went wrong; this lends to poor reported candidate experience.
  2. Candidates can unfairly manipulate or bypass the system. One rare but not unheard-of technique for success, considering the widespread use of CV parsing software, is to put small white (non-visible) writing into their CV, only detectable by these systems. Within this small writing, invisible to the human eye, are keywords that the software will be programmed to pull from the text. This means that despite the visible content perhaps being of average quality at best, the hidden content raises the score on the database. However, it is important to stress that this is not common or recommended and will likely raise a red flag for those that look at the output.
  3. The use of unusual formatting and graphics on a CV, despite adding value when a person reads your CV, often go misread or unnoticed by automated software. For example, you may decide to use graphs or colours to differentiate certain parts of your CV, but that is not appreciated by the system. Once again, like the first drawback, this can result in an otherwise suitable candidate being rejected unfairly from the process.

As we can see from these limitations, it is fair to say that automated software is far from perfect. These systems have yet a long way to go and organisations should in fact be using these with caution.

How to overcome Automated CV Parsing Software

Despite these drawbacks and the vast enhancements that are needed for automated software systems to be effective, they are here to stay. In fact, these systems are highly desirable for most companies with the relatively cheap solutions that are on offer and the ease which they bring to the hiring process. This means that irrespective of the fallibility of the software, candidates will have to work with them, at least until they become more sophisticated and refined. Let’s take a look at how you can overcome CV parsing software.

It would be unprofessional and unethical to suggest that candidates add numerous hidden keywords (undetectable to the human eye) to their CVs. Instead, we have some tips that aim to mitigate the drawbacks of automated CV software. These are provided with the hope that candidates can increasingly learn to improve their chances of progressing in the application process. We provide these in a nice easy acronym of the vowels, AEIOU, to help you remember the steps:

  • Assume that the application is going to be read by someone. Imagine that this person is really interested in seeing a succinct relaying of certain qualities/criteria specific to the role you are applying for.
  • Embrace the hard skills that you possess, making sure that these are clearly and plainly presented, especially those that are a requirement for the role you are applying for. These are skills that are quantifiable, such as qualifications, foreign languages, or IT skills. If for example you are a Certified Data Professional, rather than writing ‘CDP’, write ‘Certified Data Professional (CDP)’ making use of parentheses.
  • Identify whether the company is using CV parsing software. This can often be inferred from evidence of an applicant tracking system (ATS) on the portal that stores your application process. If the URL of the application form contains the name of an ATS provider, or if the company you are applying to is relatively large, then there is a high probability that they will be using an ATS; more than 60% of companies now use résumé screening software.
  • Organise yourself before starting the application form by researching the role being applied for. This will help your CV stand out by showing a clearly focus of its content to the role at hand, rather than coming across as a generic CV. Start by using the job description and searching the internet for industry terminology and requirements.
  • Utilise and adapt the content that already exists in your CV to plug keywords that the company are looking for in a candidate. If your CV currently talks about your previous role at a supermarket, make sure to include the keyword from the job description, e.g. SCM Software (Supply Chain Management). This is key, as it has been found that companies reject up to 75% of CVs automatically, with the remainder only making it before human eye.

As you may have noticed throughout this article, there are many aspects of a CV that play a role in determining whether it will make it past an automatic software; these aspects include your job description, minimum requirements for the role and formatting. This highlights an important issue with the system in that candidates are unable to present themselves as creative individuals, as is often an option through traditional CV writing, motivational questions, or Video Interview responses. Rather, you are now in a world of Automated Software Technology, required to jump through hoops. These hoops, or requirements are fixed and are rigid, leaving little or no need to express yourself and stand out. Although please note, that your CV may be reviewed at a later stage such as an Assessment Centre or before a face-to-face interview.

Automated software is now a beast of its own and an area where we can and should expect company recruitment to advance and head in the future. Automation that is able to incorporate the advantages of being cost-effective, anti-discriminatory, and highly accurate, whilst also having the functionality to interpret creative expressions in a CV, allowing people to truly stand out should be the focus of providers moving forwards. Despite this, one thing that is clear, is that traditional methods of CV sifting are quickly becoming a thing of the past for these large organisations; and with the rest of the world and industries embracing automation in all areas of life, we cannot expect recruitment to stay behind.

What is emotional intelligence all about?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are a growing number of people talking about emotional intelligence, but what does this buzz word actually mean? Is it just a buzz word? Or is there some reason as to why this has slowly become a prized trait within the workplace? Read on to find out more.

Emotional intelligence helps relationships

Emotional intelligence is widely considered to be the ability to monitor one’s own emotion as well as the emotion of others. Naturally, this has significant implications for the workplace especially with collaboration between colleagues and teams becoming a key facet of modern work.

For example, you may have some personal circumstances which contribute to you feeling anxious and easily flustered before a day’s work. The ability to recognise that you’re feeling this way will help you remain consistent in how you behave and respond to others on the day. Someone who is less in tune with their emotions, on the other hand, may be snappier and respond in an annoyed manner to situations and tasks where they would usually respond in a calmer manner.

In this example, we learn that emotional intelligence can help us be more consistent in how we interact with our colleagues. Consistent behaviour is key in the workplace as it helps set expectations and build relationships with other people.

Emotional intelligence helps collaboration

In the same way, emotional intelligence can help us collaborate better with others. This is already implied with the way it benefits our behaviour and relationship-building, but it also helps us identify when others need to be dealt with differently, or just require that extra bit of support.

Imagine you’re working with a team of six on a 3-month project comprising of several deliverables on the way, with agreed deadlines in place to ensure a smooth project lifecycle. Halfway through the project, with a deliverable’s deadline looming, you have the emotional intelligence to recognise a team member is struggling. This recognition benefits the team member but also the end-goal of the team, as you may then choose to lend extra support to this member. This ensures the project progresses as planned, and they feel comfortable with the task at hand.

How is it measured?

Emotional intelligence can be measured using either of the following methods:

  1. Self-Report: This is where one rates their own level of emotional intelligence.
  2. Other Report: This is where others rate someone’s emotional intelligence.
  3. Psychometrics: This is where one must sit an assessment which is specifically designed to assess emotional intelligence.

Anything else?

Companies are always seeking to improve the candidate experience, whether this means a more seamless application form or more interactive assessments. The latter goal has contributed to some organisations using game-based assessments as part of their recruitment process.

GF’s i-EQ™ Game measures one facet of Emotional Intelligence.

One such game seeks to measure a facet of emotional intelligence and is being used in consultancy, finance and banking. GF’s i-EQTM game seeks to give jobseekers a similar experience, with this game measuring the ability to recognise facial expressions – a key facet if we are to be emotionally intelligent with others.

How will Covid-19 affect employers and degree worth?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Written by:
Piotr Binduga
UCL Graduate

The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) was declared a worldwide pandemic by WHO on the 11th of March. Since then, we have experienced a great amount of change to the way we live in a very short time. Whether it is the way we work, consume or socialise – one thing that is certain is that the reopening of the economy and society will be a long and gradual process.

Many people are struggling to move on with their lives as normal. One of the biggest concerns around the world is the job market. As is usually the case during crisis, job markets come under growing cost-pressures and fewer candidates can be recruited, while at the same time the pool of potential candidates is increased by the recently unemployed. It is estimated that in the developed countries the rate of unemployed may more than double during the Covid crisis.

In this article we will navigate through a number of interesting questions that may shed light on the future of recruitment during and after Covid-19 pandemic, such as:

1) How will Covid-19 affect businesses?

2) What does Covid-19 mean for graduates and their degree worth?

3) How will the recruitment strategies of employers change?

4) What can candidates do to get jobs during and post the Covid-19 crisis?

Make sure to scroll all the way down for best tips and advice on how to be successful in the labour market during Covid-19 and the consequent economic recession.

1. How will Covid-19 affect businesses?

Many industries and businesses had already been under financial pressure before the Covid-19 outbreak. Some industries, such as high street retail, transport or travel companies had already been faced with growing cost-cutting pressure and decreasing demand from consumers.

Covid-19 meant that many of these already struggling businesses and industries had their operations grounded overnight, including shops, restaurants, hotels – as well as extended supply chains and professional-services contractors. For many professionals in hospitality, tourism or retail, career plans and expectations for the future drastically changed.

According to the Office of National Statistics, in the weeks from April 6 to 19, 2020, 23 percent of businesses had temporarily closed or paused trading, with around 60 percent of businesses that continued to trade reporting a fall in revenues.

According to the McKinsey report, 22% of UK’s working age population, around 9 million, had been furloughed.

It is certain that these industries will need to change their operating models and revenue channels after the crisis. It is also expected that many of the jobs that are currently sustained through the government furlough schemes will cease to exist when the fiscal aid finishes.

Other industries, including big multinationals, have had to rapidly adjust to new ways of working from home. These businesses have:

  • Seen a decrease in the amount of revenues generated in the uncertain economic environment as some of their clients were forced to close operations or delay business deals.
  • Introduced companywide pay cuts of 20% to preserve the headcount, e.g. AON in the UK.
  • Invested in new technology licenses and WFH equipment for their employees, including chairs, second screens, etc.
  • Opted to use government help and furlough parts of their employers. Finally, most of the new recruitment – especially of fresh graduates – has been for now frozen.

These changes will leave a lasting impact on the industries that had already been experiencing structural problems. It is only expected that the pressure to cut costs will only increase across the industries. Some, such as hotels, restaurant chains, tourist attractions or high-street or shopping centre shops will need to decrease their physical presence.

Many experts claim that what otherwise would take long years of adjustment, Covid-19 speeded up the transformation in the IT Technology in just a few months. Therefore, we will be looking at changes such as increased use of e-commerce or new remote ways of working for teams that will no longer be limited by location.

Will companies continue to follow similar ways of recruitment?

As is usually a case, uncertainty in the market makes businesses less likely to make decisions that require outlooks for a few years. One of these decisions is employing candidates without prior experience, whose training and development is costly to start with and only starts to pay off with time as employees produce valuable work. Since there is uncertainty around expectations of economic activity in the next few years, many companies will choose to uphold or significantly decrease the size of their recruitment. With fewer jobs available, and the pool of potential candidates growing – the competition for jobs will get stiffer and candidates will need to work harder to differentiate them.

How will the ways of work change with Covid-19?

Other changes in the work environment for businesses will mean growing reliance on technology and flexible ways of working; mostly remote working from home. Companies may start to choose to downsize their costly office space and invest in technologies or training to make employees more productive in their new offices in their own living rooms or bedrooms.

According to Market Watch, in cities like New York or London, the office space per employee may be as much as $15,000 a year.

Economic recessions and uncertainty usually tighten the labour market, with those who lost their jobs unable to transfer that easily, and those who have kept their jobs unwilling or uncertain to venture out and change jobs. This in turn stifles the innovation and flow of creativity. As segments of the economy are focused on recovery and sustaining daily operations, many riskier and exciting projects may be cancelled or delayed.

2. What does Covid-19 mean for graduates and their degree worth?

Covid-19 has generated a lot of uncertainty for everyone around the world, but perhaps a group most impacted are students and fresh graduates. Trying to navigate the life after university, searching for full time jobs or simply moving around is faced with a number of obstacles. In this section we will discuss the consequences of Covid-19 on graduates.

For many, a decision to start university studies is an important one – but also a costly one. In many countries like the UK or USA, students face a trade-off between finding a job with income right away, or committing a few years of their time and great sums of money in debt to receive a title they believe will bring them higher incomes and greater career opportunities in the future. Is this likely to change?

With Covid-19, traditional methods of teaching, such as class-room based learning, have been replaced by online lessons. As students receive less physical interaction, and can essentially study from their parents’ homes away, the benefit of moving out to study diminishes. With fewer incentives it is likely that more people will decide to opt out of university studies, if not just delay these by a few years. As long as the social distancing measures remain, many degrees that can be substituted online will continue to be taught remotely. This, in turn, means that for many individuals, spending large sums of money to receive an education online – especially at the time when many institutions such as Harvard or MiT offer many of their courses online, is simply not worth it.

With lower interest in taking up studies, graduates who do have a university education may be seen as more valuable to potential employers and therefore will receive higher premiums for their investment in education. On the other hand, the move away from traditional university education may also mean that determined individuals who show interest to learn from a variety of sources online and have valuable experiences will be performing better in the job market to graduates who only hold a university title. It has been long debated if university education is a good proxy for productivity at work, or whether good grades and diplomas from respected universities really reflect the merit and skills of candidates.

On top of that, the recession caused by Covid-19 means that many people who had recently lost their jobs may decide to downgrade and apply for similar positions as fresh university graduates. This will mean that with stiffer competition the university degree itself will hold less value, and that candidates for jobs will need to work hard to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

3. How will the recruitment strategies of employers change?

With the offices closed and recruiters and HR staff working from home, it looks unlikely that any candidates should be asked to participate in the recruitment process in the office.

Since the first few stages of the recruitment processes with most companies are online, little change is expected here. The candidates will continue to register their interest and fill in the information online. In the next step they are likely to be invited to take online aptitude tests, among them the most common online aptitude tests:

It is also very likely that candidates will be asked to take personality tests, which can include:

The part that is expected to change in the course of Covid-19 are the stages of recruitment that required physical presence of the candidate and recruiter – including interviews and assessment centre exercises. These are likely to be either translated onto an online platform, such as video or telephone interviews, or some parts of the process may be simplified meaning candidates will not have to go through group exercises or role play exercises. It is important to follow latest communications from each company and to read the instructions received by candidates.

4. What can candidates do to get jobs during and post the Covid-19 crisis?

1) Expand your search

With the limited options in the labour market, you may increase your chances if you consider the type of industries or companies that you would not have considered before. Many starting positions will give you the same type of initial training and it may be better to find a role that you are not entirely happy about for the moment being than not work at all. After all, with the experience you make now it will be easier for you to compete against other candidates in the future.

2) Practice online aptitude tests

With fewer jobs available for candidates, being successful in recruitment will be harder. It is therefore imperative that candidates prepare and know what to expect from the process! Practising online aptitude tests can help to increase chances of successful passing, and therefore ensure that candidates will get a chance to present themselves in the next recruitment stages.

3) Be ready to make a great impression through a phone or video interview

Telephone or video interviews can be seen as either easier or harder depending on the candidate. For those who are usually rather shy and nervous in new situations, and would find intimidating traveling to a new office and having to meet a number of staff and recruiters, telephone and video interviews are a great way to focus on the strengths and present oneself as a confident, enthusiastic and prepared! On the other hand, for those who find making new contacts easy and are usually more expressive, having to impress the recruiters over the phone or a camera may pose a bigger challenge.

Regardless – all candidates should take time to carefully prepare for their interviews. It is good practice to start from the research about the company you are interested in, knowing the key facts about the business, its industry and competitors, including recent trends or industry risks. Secondly, it is imperative to practice speaking, on the phone or via video camera depending on the mode of interview, and to receive feedback from your friends or relatives. Pay attention to the tone and way you speak, as well as finding the right spot in terms of lighting and background for the camera. Technical preparation is crucial.

GF partners with NHS HEE

Reading Time: 3 minutes


We are proud to have worked closely with NHS Health Education England (HEE) for their 2020/21 Graduate Scheme. The GF Team played a pivotal role in providing the recruitment strategy, online assessments, and project management that enabled NHS HEE to hire 23 suitable candidates across the organisation.

The experience of our Organisational Psychologists and wider team resulted in a comprehensive, effective, and legally defensible recruitment strategy that we were truly proud of. We applied this conscious and deliberate approach to the entire process, whether it was data protection, the collation of data, and of course the delivery of the assessments themselves. Our aim is to reduce the workload of the client wherever possible, which we will elaborate upon further in our Approach section below.


We put into place a robust strategy that provided a polished experience for recruiters at NHS HEE and applicants during the hiring process. This began with understanding the organisations needs through multiple calls with the team, helping to really understand the “best-fit” profile they were looking for in an ideal candidate. In essence, we discussed how the NHS could use psychometrics to achieve the goal of finding suitable candidates for their graduate positions.

Our efforts extended further than best-practice advice, to our communication with candidates each step of the way. As such, we delivered regular and clear communication with candidates as to their position in the process, and reminders of the time remaining to ensure a maximal completion rate. Additionally, we provided recruiters with data breakdowns to save them doing the extra admin work. The team also delivered 24/7 IT support to ensure minimal disruption to the process for both candidates and the client.


We’re humbled to have had this opportunity to work with the NHS. The importance of team agility was a particular highlight and allowed us to further appreciate and develop our agile way of working. Crucially, this experience emphasised to us the value of quality service, and the benefit of bespoke recruitment processes.

Thanks to the NHS and GF Team for their hard work and determination during the project lifecycle.

Will Covid-19 affect how companies recruit for jobs?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Have you been affected by Covid-19? You’re not alone.

All around the world, jobseekers have been thrust into an uncertain space where the future is unclear.

Even those that had a job have been hit hard, with many being furloughed and others being laid off entirely.

So, what do you do?

Get ahead. Get ahead and see how companies are adapting to Covid so you can too.

How have companies been affected?

Small businesses without the infrastructure and scope of larger companies simply cannot operate with the lack of reach due to Covid, and have been forced to shut down entirely.

If we look at industries, the Restaurant industry is struggling given the lockdown restrictions. Similarly, Events just could not function without mass gatherings of people.

Retail in particular has also been hit hard, with the limitations of shopping in-person having a huge effect over the course of lockdown. Online shopping has helped reduce the impact somewhat but the economic impact of relying entirely on remote solutions has resulted in mass layoffs taking place.

Pret-a-Manger is one of many companies impacted by Covid-19.

Even successful companies like Pret-a-Manger have been forced to close restaurants across the UK. Other large organisations such as Intu are also struggling with a large proportion of its profits attributable to people attending its shopping centres.

What about other industries?

Well, airlines such as Virgin Atlantic are struggling to stay afloat (pardon the pun), with Travel simply not on the cards for many people. Naturally, Healthcare is already being strained, with the National Health Service in England being stretched to its limits to cope with the demands. Hospitality and Leisure, like Retail, have also been hit hard, with 46% of employees likely to be furloughed.

We are now seeing restrictions beginning to ease which should help a number of sectors, including Retail and Travel, to resume normal functioning.

However, the fear of contracting the virus is likely to still play a role – many people will still be wary of being in contact with others and may choose to limit their public interactions.

The fear of developing Covid-19 may slow the progress of some industries.

Industries will need to prepare and adapt accordingly.

What does this mean for recruitment?

There is demand but particularly in the following areas:

  • Cleaning
  • Facilities
  • Growth
  • Healthcare
  • IT
  • Retail
  • Supply Chain
  • Transportation

With companies having to cut cost, they will need to find more cost-effective ways of recruiting the right candidate.

Companies (especially large ones) will usually opt for recruitment agencies to do much of the recruitment for them. However, this is a costly solution and companies will be forced to turn elsewhere on rely on their existing technology to do the job for them.

In a nutshell, companies will need to decide whether they want to continue outsourcing recruitment (an additional expense), or delegate more work to HR. Despite companies likely to have fewer staff members working in HR, given layoffs and the focus on cutting cost, the latter seems more likely.

Applicant tracking systems (or ATSs) will still be a must, as these allow large organisations to keep an electronic record of candidates. Whether companies continue to use external solutions such as Workday, Taleo, or GF remains to be seen. We could see a shift toward internal ATSs, but this will be dependent on development times. As this is likely to require a lot of time and effort, companies are likely to stick with external providers – Technavio forecast the ATS market to grow by a staggering 106.16 million USD up to 2023.

Is recruitment already changing?

Some companies have stopped recruitment entirely or shifted start dates, with employer confidence in the economy reducing by 22%.

As we touched on above, many organisations are furloughing members of staff or cutting jobs entirely. Recently, LinkedIn was reported to have cut 960 jobs amounting to a huge 6% of its global workforce. Indeed, Covid has impacted the need for its recruitment products.

Recruitment agencies continue to provide job postings, but we should expect fewer and fewer companies to partner with them for the foreseeable future.

TIP: Don’t over-rely on recruitment agencies. We recommend checking the Careers sections of companies that interest you regularly. Sign up to their job alerts (if they have them) and visit the site often to make sure you don’t miss out on any job postings.

Online job tests and video interviews will only become more common as companies limit interactions and become more desperate to hire new talent for economic purposes. For example, GF was privileged to support the NHS with recruitment for one of its graduate schemes during the lockdown period.

Online job tests and video interviews are more likely given the challenges of Covid-19.

TIP: You must remember that companies and HR especially will be under a huge amount of stress to recruit candidates. When a job advert goes out, their stress will be at its highest and gradually reduce once the “right” applicants come flooding in.It is your job to apply early and catch recruiters when they are most likely to consider applications.

The use of video interviews in particular is a controversial issue. The Black Lives Matter campaign has given rise to meaningful cross-industry discussions being raised. This has included the use of Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment, such as its use in detecting a candidate’s competence from their video interview performance.

With Artificial Intelligence still being a fairly recent area of research, the concern is that the parameters that determine competence are based on cultural norms. This has led suppliers of video interviewing software to pause, with HireVue receiving further scrutiny as to whether it’s A.I. technology discriminates against those with “non-traditional” faces and voices.

HireVue faces further scrutiny with regard to its Artificial Intelligence software.

Big players like IBM have even stated that they will no longer offer or develop facial recognition technology.

So, what does this mean?

We may see more companies opt out of video interviewing software based on artificial intelligence, though the issue of discrimination may take longer to address. MIT’s Technology Review highlights the lack of regulation of artificial intelligence, and suggests the majority of companies offering this technology are unlikely to release their data or fully explain how their algorithms work.

Will there be an Assessment Day?

Usually, after filling in an online application and successfully completing your tests and video interview, you’re invited to an Assessment Day.

An Assessment Day, or Assessment Centre can be costly and time-intensive for companies to run, with a typical centre lasting the course of a day.

The elephant in the room will of course be health concerns. For these centres to work, many people would need to be present. Reducing the number of candidates invited per assessment centre is simply not cost-effective and timely given the hectic nature of work post-lockdown. Adding safety measures would have similar drawbacks.

Thus, companies are being forced to turn to virtual assessment centres. These attempt to mimic the real-life assessment centre from the comfort of a candidate’s home. For companies, it means they can run more assessment centres and offset some of the cost they would typically have in a physical scenario.

Virtual assessment centres are more likely due to Covid-19.

Here are links to the most common types of assessment centre exercises and how they have been adapted to the virtual space:

  • Group Discussion: The dynamic of a group discussion would be a tad different on a video call. Timing of speech will be key as you do not want to interrupt anyone, but also want to show you’re a contributor who helps discussion move forward.
  • In-Tray: These exercises attempt to simulate real-life scenarios you would encounter at work and typically measure how you respond to juggling multiple tasks. An E-Tray is essentially an electronic version of this task and can be done online without the need of supervision from an assessor.
  • Presentation: It is entirely feasible to conduct a presentation over a video call, with screen sharing offered by most mainstream platforms. The challenge will be the lack of nonverbal communication visible through a video call.
  • Role-play: Typically, an assessor will play the role of someone in the workplace and you will need to respond accordingly. This is entirely doable over a video call though non-verbal communication may again be lost.
  • Written: Here, you’ll be presented with a brief and will be required to write a response. This will require collating information, identifying key points, and often proving arguments. On a virtual basis, you could either be presented with a PDF of the brief during or prior to the video call. The camera allows assessors to see how you work and avoid collusion.

TIP: The challenge of a video call is the lack of nonverbal communication. In a real-life setting, these gestures and nonverbal bits of information are vital for assessors to form an impression of you. However, in a virtual setting, it is more important to focus on your delivery and ensure you have everything completed on time.

The beauty of all of these tasks is they can easily be done on a virtual basis and do not necessarily require individuals present in the same room.

What to expect in the future

We are likely to see greater reliance on online technologies, such as video interviewing in the future. As companies get better at virtual assessment centres, we can expect to see more of these in the future given the implication of cost.

The issue of discrimination within Artificial Intelligence solutions remains, and is particularly relevant given the Black Lives Matter campaign. MIT suggest this will require a longer process for true change to truly take place.

In the meantime, we may see less companies employ Artificial Intelligence within recognition technology to uphold their image, such as IBM.

Recruitment agencies will struggle, and candidates may be better off going directly to companies to apply for the foreseeable future.

Companies will also be conscious of how much is spent on recruitment and may turn to cost-effective solutions, particularly as they bounce back from Covid-19.

So go forth – adapt, apply, and succeed.