Research shows that people are not as good at detecting a lie as they might think. Even experts can’t hope for much better than a 50/50 chance of spotting a false statement. The stressful and artificial nature of job interviews, where candidates are actively trying to second-guess the interviewer and give acceptable responses, make social cues even more unreliable.
According to CVCheck’s Chief Innovation Officer, Colin Boyan – who presented on the topic at The Recruitment Events Co.’s RecFest 2019 in Melbourne last week – we are five to 10 years away from digital identity technology becoming widespread to the point where sorting fact from fiction in job interviews will no longer be a concern.
Why traditional claim verification is a waste of valuable time
“As an employer, the first thing I need to establish with a job candidate is that they are who they say they are,” says Colin. “After that, I’ll need to verify their credentials; their qualifications, work experience, and the achievements claimed on their CV.”
Hiring managers have traditionally done this by asking probing questions during the interview and verifying the applicants’ credentials during the selection or at the end of the hiring process. This creates two key problems:
- It wastes valuable interview time: Focusing on trust and verification takes time away from interview questions that can determine whether the candidate possesses appropriate soft skills or will be a good cultural fit for the organisation. Also, in a stressful situation such as a job interview, a candidate’s responses and body language aren’t reliable clues to detect when they are telling the truth or altering facts.
- It delays the final job offer: verification of credentials – unless outsourced to a third-party background screening service provider, such as CVCheck – takes time. Meanwhile, the candidate may be speaking to other employers and putting pressure on your organisation to make a decision.
“Employers want to bypass the ‘who the hell are you?’ stage,” says Colin. “Organisations get entangled in a nightmare matrix of trying to establish identity and verify claims in a timely fashion while still leaving time to get to the real interview questions. The time and money spent on this is compounded when there’s a large volume of candidates to get through.”
It’s not a good experience for the candidate, either. Handing over identity and proof of credentials documents to multiple employers can be time-consuming and problematic. “As a candidate, I’ll hand over my paperwork to a potential employer and immediately lose control of that information. A potential employer’s HR team will stash my papers in a filing cabinet, even if I don’t get the job,” says Colin.
Why digital identity is the future in recruitment
Digital identity is a digitally authenticated representation of verified credentials and proofs. It is likely to take the form of smart ID devices or apps on our smartphones that will enable job candidates to attach digital “tokens” along with their application.
- It’s blockchain-based, more robust and more secure: “You’ll be able to apply online for a role via an employer’s HR platform, and submit your CV along with verified employment history, qualifications, and education details,” explains Colin. “And being blockchain-based, your identity will be both more robust and more secure. Your information will be held in multiple copies of the database, which makes it near-impossible to alter or destroy.”
- Saves recruiters time while allows meaningful conversations during the interview process: Digital identity will be a game-changing time-saver for employers, says Colin: “When a candidate walks into a job interview, the interviewers will already be 100% satisfied that person is who they say they are, and that all the claims listed on their CV are truthful. This means they can get straight to the real interview, spend more time asking meaningful questions, and ultimately get a better outcome.”
- Protects against unconscious bias: One of the exciting features of digital identity is its enablement of zero-knowledge proofs. At present, if a candidate gives an employer a copy of their driver’s licence they are inadvertently handing over extra information such as their address, date of birth and license number. This not only raises the concern as to what is done with this additional information but can feed unconscious bias with data that is irrelevant to the job application, such as the candidate’s age, or area of residence. Zero-knowledge proofs means being able to prove things without giving away any extra details. Digital identity will enable employers to make decisions with only the information they require to be proven, and nothing more. “This feature alone will result in greater and wider-spread trust,” says Colin.
- Gives candidates full control over their data: A distributed ID will be unique to the relationship between the candidate and the employer. If, for example, the candidate fails to pass the first round of interviews, they can take back control of their data by revoking their digital credentials. “Submitting digital credentials and proof of identity when applying for jobs will become a given,” says Colin. “Within five to 10 years, we won’t think twice about it.”
Digital identity is already happening
Today, digital identity schemes are already underway all over the world. Multiple players including the World Bank, Microsoft, Accenture, IBM and Mastercard are playing in this space and working on the tech side of the problem. A standard for the publishing of digital credentials has already been established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) w3.org, laying the foundation for consistency.
“There are a range of digital identity solutions popping up like mushrooms all over the world”, says Colin. “When all this comes together, the technology will feel like it has landed overnight.” For instance, Estonia’s e-identity program, where every Estonian has a state-issued digital identity that they can use for government or medical transactions, vote, and travel. But we don’t have to go that far for examples. Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency and Trusted Digital Identity Framework are laying the foundation for digital identity in Australia and the standards to which members must adhere.
Why the advantages of using digital ID will outweigh its challenges
There will always be those who are uncomfortable with digital identification. The challenge lies in finding a balance between privacy, convenience, and security. The distributed nature of blockchain will make users’ information less vulnerable to cyberattacks or damage than information held in a central database.
When asked about people who simply won’t want to use digital identity technology, Colin shrugs: “At the point it becomes widespread, it will be hard to stay out of the ecosystem. It’s a bit like people who didn’t want to carry a mobile phone – they increasingly found that they missed out on a lot of stuff. Candidates may find that potential employers expect or even require the trust provided by digital identity verification and achieve the most positive candidate experience.”