It goes without saying that recruiting quality talent can be a challenging task. There are numerous hurdles that plague recruiters, and a big one is the communication gap between employers and job seekers.
The quintessential hiring instrument—the resume, or CV—has various limitations. These can tell a lot about a candidate regarding minimum requirements, but they hardly reveal anything about intangible (soft) and interpersonal skills. Furthermore, it could be argued that, in a digitally-advanced age, adhering exclusively to archaic hiring methods is demonstrably imprudent.
Interviews provide a great deal more insight into candidates. However, with the coronavirus pandemic and the proliferation of remote jobs, in-person interviews quickly became far less practical than in years past. In this context, video interviews appear to be a ready-made solution for employers.
It would be erroneous to assert that interviews are the ideal screening technique and perfect for every organization looking to hire the best possible candidates. Since it’s a relatively new use for this medium, many employers haven’t quite figured out the optimal modalities for video interviews. Additionally, some employers and many candidates remain less than comfortable in engaging through this medium.
In this article, we’ll delve into the details and types of video interviews, the challenges in utilizing video interviews, and how employers can overcome some of the barriers to successful video interviewing.
An Overview of Video Interviews
In short, video interviews are an instrument through which employers can evaluate candidates for a job remotely. Instead of arranging an in-person or telephonic interview, companies can choose to interview candidates virtually through video conferencing software or communication tools like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, and so forth. Video interviews are a useful way to screen many candidates quickly and efficiently, and drill down to the ideal candidates more effectively. Likewise, they are also beneficial to bridge the geographic gap, as candidates from more distant locations can sit for interviews. This also furthers the scope of work-from-home and remote professions. Before diving into the benefits of video interviews, we’ll have a look at the 3 types of video interviews currently at our disposal.
- Two-way Video Interviews – These are the most common types of video interviews and have become analogous to the term “video interview” itself. Both the candidates and the recruiters have to log into the same video call to have an exchange in real-time. Two-way video interviews are beneficial when hiring managers and candidates are in distant locations. Likewise, they save time and resources by allowing managers to screen many candidates during the initial stages.
- One-way Video Interviews – Also known as “on-demand video interviews” or “recorded video interviews,” one-way video interviews require candidates to answer a series of questions, record them, and submit them through the video interview platform. They are an excellent way for hiring managers to save time and still gauge the best candidates for a job. Additionally, one-way video interviews give candidates an edge, as they can prepare for the interview due to having pre-prepared questions.
- Video Application Interviews – This is a variant of the one-way video interview wherein hiring managers ask candidates to submit a video introduction of themselves, based on which an appraisal can be made. They are similar to one-way video interviews, but instead of a rigid set of questions, there is a free flow of elocution from the candidates’ sides, restricted by a timestamp of one to several minutes. Video application interviews are well-suited to hiring candidates for creative positions.
Now that we know the rudimentary aspects of video interviews, let’s look at their benefits.
Top Three Benefits of Video Interviews for Employers
- Reduction in Hiring Time. Video interviews—either one-way or two-way—address the precious time of hiring managers. When we consider all of the filler activities in an in-person interview, these add up and considerably increase the time burden of the interview. Conversely, during video interviews, neither the recruiters nor candidates have to leave their desks, and a lot of time is saved. Thus, video interviews allow hiring managers to dramatically streamline the interview process.
- Reduction in Hiring Costs. When the hiring process is accelerated, the cost of recruitment drives decreases. A slow hiring process means that a position remains vacant for more extended periods, which can be costly to a business. Likewise, when employers screen multiple candidates through two-way video interviews or opt for recorded interviews, they can move to the next stage of hiring faster and ultimately close the recruitment drive faster. Thus, companies can save a lot of money and resources.
- Bias Elimination. Video interviews are an excellent way to deal with biases that naturally form during recruitment. They help hiring managers judge a candidate more objectively and standardize the interview process. Moreover, video interviews also help automate the hiring process and quickly identify deal-breakers. This helps managers to shortlist the ideal candidates for the next round of interviews. Finally, by recording the interviews, employers get the added advantage of being able to go through the entire timeline again and make a decision with more effective deliberation.
Top Three Benefits of Video Interviews for Candidates
- Preparation. One-way video interviews and video application interviews allow candidates to prepare and put their best foot forward. A candidate can record their answers several times and post the best take. When it comes to a two-way interview, although this depth of preparation is not possible, candidates feel more at ease, as they can sit for the interview from the comfort of their homes.
- Tension Reduction. With the world going through challenging times, some candidates find it daunting to go for in-person interviews for a variety of reasons. Video interviews circumvent some of the challenges presented as a result of such things as the pandemic, creating a more level playing field for candidates and allowing candidates from all walks of life to shine during their interview.
- Comfort and Ease. Many candidates find that in-person interviews can be intimidating and the level of formality excruciating, thereby inhibiting them from expressing themselves freely. This can obviously telegraph an inaccurate or even unfavorable impression to the interviewer. On the other hand, the perceived distance that is associated with a video interview can, in fact, lighten the environment and facilitate a free flow of communication between candidates and hiring managers.
Challenges in Utilizing Video Interviews
All of that said, the novel nature of video as a medium for interviews and some of the factors we’ve touched on earlier can make candidates uncomfortable with the process. As difficult as some candidates find in-person interviews, some can actually find digital interviews more problematic than the in-person variety.
Despite their benefits, video interviews also have limitations that have the potential to negatively impact and/or bias candidates to the process. These include, but are not limited to:
Technological Limitations. Conducting a smooth video interview requires planning, preparation, and advanced technologies like hardware, software, and broadband. Some candidates may be technologically disadvantaged, which can nullify many of the benefits described earlier. There are also employers who don’t handle the technology well themselves; this can not only lead to technical glitches, but also to tentative, uncomfortable interviewers and candidates.
Absence of Non-verbal Cues. One of the most significant limitations of video interviews is that they do not allow hiring managers to understand a candidate’s non-verbal cues such as eye contact and body language, aspects which can convey a great deal about a candidate. Similarly, candidates cannot benefit from the reverse, which can lead to discomfort and tentativeness on their end.
Limited Rapport-building. While the perceived distance in the milieu of the video interview can add to comfort and confidence in some candidates, in others, it can give rise to discomfort, since the rapport-building which many people (and interviewers) naturally try to cultivate when they meet in person is absent.
Digital Disruption. While digital resources have been a lifesaver in many ways during the pandemic, the forced transition to an online mode of life has been challenging for many people and organizations. Those candidates who are less comfortable with digital resources (e.g., older candidates) and those who are less tech-savvy may be less disposed to interview while using this medium.
Bias. Despite the utility of video and other digital media, there are some candidates who don’t believe that video interviews give a fair representation of their character and other metrics that interviewers look for.
How Employers Can Help
The good news is that there are steps which recruiters and managers can take to help shift candidates’ perceptions of video interviews, thus helping candidates to be more comfortable with them.
One of the key take-aways frequently offered is that those interviewing candidates try to keep interviews on a par with traditional in-person interviews. This helps to generate a level of familiarity with the process, thus circumventing some of the discomfort a candidate may be experiencing.
The job search website Indeed recommends some key pointers for doing this, and for optimizing the video interview process. These can be used as appropriate for one-way and two-way interviews:
Allow candidates ample preparation time. This ensures that the candidate will be at their best when you hold the interview. It also demonstrates your professionalism and consideration of their time.
Limit distractions. While in-person interviews are traditionally held in dedicated spaces, candidates who have participated in video interviews have complained about bustle, noise and interviewers’ co-workers breaking into their offices with questions or fires to put out. Virtual interviews should be conducted in a place that is quiet and free from distractions so that you can give your full attention to the candidate. Indeed suggests keeping the environment “as professional as possible to mimic the setting of an in-person interview.”
Build rapport. You’re saving time with the video interview, so you can afford some time to build rapport with the candidate in the same way you would in a traditional interview. Going the extra mile in this regard by beginning with some light-hearted questions can cut through any tension and help make the interview run more smoothly.
Outline questions prior to the interview. It’s a good idea to prepare any questions you need to ask during the virtual interview ahead of time. Prior to the interview, you should have reviewed the candidate’s information, including their resume, cover letter and any additional documentation. Use this to craft questions you’ll ask relating to their experience and qualifications.
Check your tech. As mentioned earlier, technical glitches can throw both candidates and interviewers for a loop. Virtual interviews are dependent on your and the candidate’s internet connection. Test your connection before the interview, as well as your microphone and webcam. If necessary, you can perform a quick connection check with a colleague or assistant to ensure that your technology is working properly.
Send the candidate an email invitation. This can help to assuage a lot of the angst the candidate may be experiencing about the interview. Send the candidate an invitation for the virtual interview, including the day and time that the interview will be held, and all the information they’ll need to access any digital resources you’ll be using. Include how long the interview will be, and any supporting documentation or information that the candidate may need to have.
Discuss your company’s culture. This is something a lot of candidates don’t get in video interviews (both one-way and two-way) because it is simply overlooked. Touch on what candidates can expect relative to your company’s culture and values. While the candidate may not be able to see firsthand what it’s like to work for your organization, you can take a minute or two to describe it.
Tell candidates what they can expect. At the end of the interview, inform the candidate of what they can expect going forward. Apprise them as to when you’d like to fill the position, how you will inform candidates of whether or not they got the job, and if you need any additional information from the candidate.
Use a standardized rating system. As with in-person interviews, a standardized system in which you rate each candidate’s qualifications for the position should be used. While the prudence of this measure may not be apparent to the candidate, it helps to mitigate bias and keeps the process equitable.
While virtual interviews are a great resource, it’s evident that they come with their fair share of challenges. Thus, it’s a good idea to build in mechanisms that foster ease-of-use into the process, so to speak. Hiring managers can adopt the above step-by-step approach and begin the recruitment process with a one-way interview, and then proceed to a real-time two-way video interview. This way, the candidate will have some familiarity with your company before the latter.
Lastly, don’t write anything in stone. This modality is still fairly new to most of us, and your process can be tweaked moving forward to best fit your organization. All things considered, video interviews are an excellent alternative or adjunct to in-person interviews and have proved to be a blessing for both recruiters and candidates during challenging times.