Is It Ethical To Record Your Candidate Interviews?

Posted on January 18, 2010. Filed under: video interview | Tags: |

There are many times when it would be great to have a recording (either audio or video) of an interview with a candidate.  You could go back through the interview later to review responses, it could be used afterwards for coaching the candidate, and you could forward recordings of great prospects to the hiring manager/company.  We believe there are two major issues to consider when deciding to record:
1)    Is it legal to record, and if so under what circumstances?
2)    Is it ethical, proper, or “wise” to do so, and under what conditions?

The legal obligations vary by state and country, and rather than try to provide 50+ rules it is best to defer to a legal professional.  We’ve been told that in Canada you must request the candidates’ permission in writing.  In the U.S. more states than not require at least one-party consent to recording and several states require two or all party consent to recordings.  Even in a one-party consent state it may be illegal if the recording equipment is hidden from the candidate (e.g. you are recording a video call on your computer without telling the candidate).

Recording interviews may not be so much a question of ethics as it is a matter of mitigating risk.  We suggest you always ask a candidate for permission to record regardless of local requirements.  The recruiter or hiring manager could state up-front that he/she is recording the interview for purposes of “recall” later.  If you inform the interviewee that the interview will be recorded, and they acknowledge acceptance, then legality should be covered as long as the purpose is clearly limited to selection.  It would be interesting if the candidate refuses to be recorded.  What would it say about them?

Remember that being recorded cuts both ways.  When you make a recording it becomes part of a permanent record, just like comments written on a paper resume.  Some recruiters and hiring managers may not ask the right/appropriate questions, or may say something inappropriate and now there would be a record of it.  That’s okay for coaching the individual, not okay if it is needed as “evidence” at a later date.

Our belief is it is not wise if you fail to tell the interviewee that you are going to record the interview to share with the hiring company, even if you are in a one-party consent state.  Hiring is a trust building exercise and a secret recording, even if legal, doesn’t feel quite right.

You should explain the entire process to the candidate, beyond just the fact they are going to be recorded.  For example, what do you do with the recordings?  How long will they be stored?  What is the recruiter’s privacy policy?  If recordings are merely passed on to others involved in the hiring process, and then deleted as a matter of policy, it might be considered more acceptable.  Just realize it is not the norm to record interviews.  Most HR professionals understand the fluff factor and to use the recording later for other purposes, could cause question.

Recording interviews, done legally, can be a valuable tool.  Just be aware of the risks.  Have you ever recorded an interview?  Do you have any feedback, good or bad?

Alan Fitzpatrick is the co-founder of Vonei LLC, home of the $99/year unlimited usage video interviewing service.  Vonei does not store recordings of user sessions.  We can suggest tools to allow the parties to record and store on their computers.  For more about us see http://www.vonei.com.

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One Response to “Is It Ethical To Record Your Candidate Interviews?”

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This is a timely article considering the many privacy issues that social media has revealed with regards to Facebook, Twitter, etc. From a video conferencing standpoint, which is how many people are being interviewed these days, it is common practice to record anything that transpires between the parties involved in that interview, session, meeting, etc. However, it does go both ways because depending on the platform, both parties may have the option to record the session. It seems that people are less concerned with privacy on social media platforms as long as the depth of privacy is clearly outlined at the onset.


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