Recruitment by Video interview – Is this the future for recruitment?

Published: 28th March 2013

A recent article by Hannah Briggs from the BBC quoted from a survey that found that six out of ten HR Managers in the US now use video to interview job applicants. Certainly Skype and Facetime are becoming a part of more people’s lives, but is it true to say that they will eventually become a critical part in every day recruitment exercises? I cannot imagine that the days of face-to-face interviews are numbered for our current generation, but that does not mean that those who embrace modern technology can save more time and expense than those with more Luddite outlooks.

It is clear that video interviews are far from common in the North of England at present. Its use is predominantly within larger organizations and mainly for graduate or entry-level recruitment. This poses the question as to why? Is it because video assessment is only effective for more junior levels of recruitment, or is it because the younger candidate pool is more likely to feel comfortable with this method of communication than everyone else?

No matter what your first impressions of this subject are, there are a number of points that support the growing argument in its favour, such as:

  • Increased mobility and flexibility of home location mean that ‘the right candidate’ for the jobs is sometimes more likely to live some distance away at present. Meeting all of these candidates in person represents significantly higher levels of investment of expense and time.
  • The volume of candidates applying for each job has risen significantly in recent years. The major reason for this is the ease in which a candidate can upload their CV to a job board and website and then simply apply to a job advert by clicking a button. The time saving of a video screening against a physical interview can be significant.

I have personally just had my first experience of interviewing by Skype. This was purely born out of practical reasons rather than a desire of mine to appear to be at the cutting edge of technology! A recruitment campaign for a Finance Director opportunity generated a very large response. This was screened down to over thirty candidates to be met within a two week timescale. I was delighted to meet almost every candidate face-to-face in this time, but there were two candidates whose diaries were impossible to allow a window that matched one of mine. Skype proved to be the only possible solution to ensure that two potentially strong candidates were not at a disadvantage because of this. My experience gave me an insight into the benefits and the disadvantages of interviewing candidates through online video;

THE BENEFITS

  • Wider candidate pool
    The added flexibility meant that I was able to include additional candidates into a selection process that was time pressured and that had generated a large number of interested candidates. One of these candidates was interested in relocating back to the area from the South West.
  • Cost saving
    Interviewing over 25 candidates in the space of two weeks meant that I was not able to meet all at our offices – I accumulated over 250 miles in my car and numerous teas, coffees and sandwiches in hotel lobbys, all of which adds up (not to mention the miles racked up by the candidates). The same article written by Hannah Briggs quoted Sellafield who saved £14,000 in their graduate recruitment  using video technology to screen interview candidates
  • Time saving
    Not only were there obvious savings in time in travelling to and from the interviews, but the average time spent in the Skype interviews as 25% less than face to face meetings. Whether this is due to less ‘small talk’ and pleasantries or a mutual desire to end the discomfort of a video interview, there was certainly a benefit
  • Effective use of technology
    Our offices in Doncaster are equipped with a Skype interviewing room. These facilities have been used exclusively for our more junior level recruitment. The Finance Directors I ‘met’ in our Skype room both commented on how impressed they were that we had these facilities at our disposal. I expect that this may raise eyebrows with those in generation ‘Y’, but the point exists that embracing modern technology reflects well on the branding of the recruiting organization.

THE DRAWBACKS

  • Personal connection
    The most obvious drawback is that the strength of connection with those candidates met through Skype was significantly lower than those physically met. Not being able to shake their hand, study their body language and feel their ‘room presence’ was frustrating and must have been mutually uncomfortable.
  • Overcoming the practicalities
    There is an inexplicable urge to look at your image in the bottom of the screen when talking and not at the camera! I am certain that this is something that is overcome by more accomplished Skype interviewers, but the end effect is that you always feel that the candidate is not looking at you when he / she are talking.
  • Technophobia
    Many would not be surprised to hear that there were a couple of delays in getting one of the interviews started as both the candidate and myself fumbled around the mechanics of getting a connection! We both declared ourselves to be ‘beginner level’ Skye users! I can only imagine how challenging a campaign that included more candidates on Skype who had not used it before!

From everything I have read and with my own recent experience of using video interviews, I can safely conclude that there is a future for video interviewing in recruitment. The time savings and the cost benefits can be realised immediately for many businesses that recruit in significant numbers. For those businesses who recruit less frequently, I would say that there is also a potential benefit in reaching out to a larger number of candidates for their vacancies. However, I find it impossible to ever envisage a recruitment campaign completing without the face-to-face interview. Establishing a personal connection and commitment from both parties is simply not possible without being in the same room.

There is certainly a growing future for video interviewing in recruitment, but it will never come at a significant expense to face-to-face interviews.

Article written by Nik Pratap
March 2013