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Lights, camera, legal action: the dangers of requesting 'audition tape' applications
28 Sep 2022

Firms that ask for “audition tapes” to screen job applicants could be leaving themselves at risk of legal action, a Midlands lawyer has warned.

Some recruitment agencies now ask applicants to submit a 60 second video of themselves as the first stage in the application process, before any other criteria of suitability or qualifications have been considered.

Julia Fitzsimmons, a partner with leading Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said businesses were leaving themselves open to claims of discrimination as a result of this process.

She said: “Audition tapes have their place in the film and theatre industry, where how someone looks or speaks might be relevant to the job.

“For almost all roles, though, jobs should be awarded on the basis of qualifications, experience and suitability for the post. If you are screening people out on the basis of a video, there is a risk that unconscious biases creep in and you treat people unfairly. There is also a risk, obviously, that this blunt hammer approach means you don’t get the best person for the job.

“While you might be confident that your recruiters are scrupulously unbiased, could you prove it in an employment tribunal?”

Julia said that the pandemic had brought about a major change in recruitment and it was now commonplace for interviews to be held online. These interviews, though, should only be after the initial screening for qualifications and experience had been done using objective criteria.

She said: “The concern for employers is that they could potentially be liable for discrimination via a third party if candidates are sifted out via an ‘audition tape’, as it could be alleged that someone didn’t get the job because of a protected characteristic rather than ability.

“People must not be discriminated against on the basis of protected characteristics like age, race, gender, ethnicity or religion. It would be very hard to prove in court that an otherwise qualified candidate wearing a cross, for example, or a hijab had not been discriminated against on the basis of their religion.

"Employers who use agencies for their recruitment should check what practices are being used to screen potential employees to make sure there is no risk of a discrimination claim.”

For more information about the law relating to recruitment, contact Julia Fitzsimmons on julia.fitzsimmons@fbcmb.co.uk

Meet Julia Fitzsimmons