Video Killed the Phone Interview Star

So by now you’ve probably heard of video interviewing as the ‘next big thing’ in recruitment.  But what is it all about?  How does it work?  Should you be considering it?

Video interviewing involves using software that allows candidates to record their answers to a number of interview questions using a webcam at a time that is convenient to them.  Recruiters can then review candidates’ answers at a later date.  The experience is the same for all candidates: recruiters set up a standard set of questions for the interview, and then invite candidates to complete the interview by sending them a link to the interview via email.

I have to admit, when I first heard about video interviewing, I was somewhat sceptical.   What about the candidate experience?  How will giving a one way interview impact upon their perception of the organisation and engagement with the brand?  What will their answers be like if you can’t ask probing questions?  What if their computer isn’t compatible with the technology?

So before going too far into my usual overly critical, judgmental mode, I decided to explore the technology and look more objectively at the facts…

Fact 1: The time savings (and hence cost savings) you can experience when you replace phone interviewing with video interviewing, are considerable - especially when engaging in large volume recruitment (such as graduates).  This means no more having to schedule calls with graduates, catching them at inopportune moments (on public transport, in class, at the pub), leaving voicemails and having to call them back again and again until they finally answer (making you wonder if they really want the job or not!).

Fact 2: Improved rigour.  As a psychologist, I love this one!   Every candidate gets exactly the same experience, ensuring consistency across all interviews.  From the recruiter’s point of view, each interview question can be rated on multiple competencies, and you can have your rating criteria set up in the system as well for easy reference.  As scorers can watch the interview as many times as they need, it is less likely that they will miss something the candidate said while they were busy trying to take notes, hence  likely resulting in them scoring the candidate more accurately.  There is also the option for more than one person to view/score the interview if required, allowing for quality checks and consistency across different scorers.  As call schedules can often be tight, viewing pre-recorded interviews may mean scorers are less rushed and perhaps more accurate in the scores they give.

Fact 3: Candidates don’t get to interact with a person.  There are some pros and cons to this one.  Cons: You can’t ask probing questions and the candidates don’t get to interact with an employee of the company.  Pros: You can include some probing questions in the initial question that the candidate reads, to try and encourage them to cover everything that they need to in their answer.  Most video interviewing tools also have the option for you to include a video for candidates to watch before they begin their interview.  Given the calibre of employer branding videos I’ve seen from some of our clients, especially some of the videos focusing on their graduate programs, these are a great way to engage candidates and to help them learn more about your company and the role in an entertaining and engaging way.  Indeed, if your organisation prides itself on innovation, using the latest recruitment technologies will show that you truly practice what you preach (there’s a reason they say actions speak louder than words!), which could be very important in a competitive talent market.  And if you’re worried about the candidate experiencing any technical problems – the system takes them through a check before their interview begins to ensure their computer and software is compatible.

As always, it’s important that you set your candidates up for success.  Make sure they know what to expect.  This can be communicated via email:

  • Dress as you would for an interview;
  • Be in an environment where you won’t be disturbed (I’ve interviewed candidates on Skype when they’ve had their housemate walking around in the background looking at me!);
  • Prepare as you would for any other type of interview (ie, research the company, the role, think about what questions you might be asked); and
  • Engage with the person who will be watching the interview (i.e. don’t read from notes, think about what they will be seeing on your screen, including what’s behind you).

So after looking at the facts, I came to the conclusion that there are some definite advantages in using video interviewing over phone screening.  I’d be interested to hear if you agree, if you have any other concerns about using video interviewing, or if you have already used it – what did you think?

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