Do video interviews work?
Gone are the days when recruiters needed to sweat over a stack of CVs, agonising over which candidates to invite in for interview. Nowadays, before you commit to meet a candidate face-to-face, you can screen them on the telephone, via email or – more recently – by assessing them using a video interview.
Video interviews can be conducted in two ways. In real time, usually via Skype, both you and the candidate interact and have a conversation. In a recorded interview you are not present, but you set questions and the candidate’s responses are filmed via a Web cam for review later.
So what are the pros and cons?
Reasons to switch on the silver screen
It’s cost-effective… particularly when interviewing a candidate who is living abroad or in another part of the country. In 2012, a survey by Cammio online video interview-provider revealed that UK employers spent an average of 10 working days interviewing. They also spent 16% of the working week travelling to meet candidates or £3,286 reimbursing candidates for travel expenses. For larger companies, the costs were higher. CERN, for instance, reported cutting recruitment costs by 20% using automated video assessments for first-round interviews.
It saves precious time … In this frenetic working environment a recorded interview means you can watch the candidate’s responses at a time that suits you. With a real-time interview, it’s generally over pretty soon as there are fewer preliminaries than with a face-to-face meeting.
Perhaps more importantly, you won’t lose a good candidate at the first hurdle because they won’t be put off by having to take time off work to attend an early-stage interview. This is backed up by Cammio’s research, which showed that 50% of candidates prefer interviews to take place outside of working hours, thus recruiters with video-interview capabilities are that bit more seductive.
Last but not least, by cutting out travel-time the whole interview process becomes more environmentally-friendly.
It gives you a better chance of catching that dream candidate… Without doubt, you get a better idea of the candidate’s personality and mettle than when you wrestle with a dry and dusty CV. For that reason, video interviews are particularly useful when drawing up a shortlist for the first round of face-to-face meetings.
It’s also fair to say that the video situation puts extra pressure on the candidate, which gives you a chance to see how they handle themselves when using media or when faced with new challenges.
There’s also more opportunity to avoid making a snap decision. This is particularly true of a recorded video because you can re-watch the candidate’s responses and even get a second opinion from other managers.
Reasons to switch off
- Technology creates a barrier… Let’s face it, Web cams can have a time-delay and be unpredictable. It can be particularly difficult for both sides to make that all-important eye contact when using Skype. Candidates who are not used to video interviews often don’t know where they should be looking. It’s easy, for instance, to be distracted by the inset screen or to be looking at notes rather than focusing on the camera. Either of you can end up look shifty or under-confident if you don’t find the right way to maintain eye contact. It’s crucial that you remember to switch your own camera on as the candidate might feel unable to prompt you, so they are left feeling vulnerable and with no focus.
- It’s a false interaction… you will never get a full idea of the person. For instance, you won’t get a sense of the strength of their handshake, their charisma or what impression they create when they walk into a room.
Being flippant for a moment, your candidate could look impressive in their suit, but they might in fact be wearing pyjamas below the table. In other words, it’s a stage-set and they may simply be good actors.
And on that note, video interviews don’t necessarily present you in a good light, either. A study from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Ontario reveals that job candidates rated their interviewers as “less attractive, personable, trustworthy and competent” when the process was conducted via video.
- You’re at the mercy of your IT department …Technical problems can and do hamper video interviews for both sides. In addition, the added burden of using technology might give the more tech-friendly younger generation an unfair advantage over older candidates. That said, if the job requires a lot of geekiness, you have a sure-fire way of weeding out the non-starters.
Finally, of course, it’s all dependent on your candidate having access to the Internet and a Web cam in the first place.
So…Cameras, lighting, action?
There are clearly times when using a video interview is a useful way to scythe through your CV pile. It’s certainly gaining popularity – over in the USA, for instance, more than six out of 10 companies use the system.
While it is unlikely to ever replace a face-to-face interview, it is arguably a better option than a phone interview when pre-screening a number of candidates. Used correctly, then, it can be a cost-effective and time-saving way of drawing up a short-list of candidates to invite into the office for a traditional interview.