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Video Job Interviews: Hiring Helper or Hindrance?

Have you ever participated in a video job interview? More companies than ever before are using this technology to recruit candidates.

HR staff and outside recruiters often screen candidates on video before sending the most promising ones on to the hiring manager for face-to-face interviews.

Sometimes these initial screenings are even set up as one-way interviews, where candidates submit a video of themselves responding to a given set of interview questions. These videos can give multiple stakeholders a first peek at candidates. Decision makers can then view, rate and discuss these candidates later (often on their own time without the need for any scheduled meetings).

And for companies that hire all over the country (and globe), video interviews in later stages of the recruitment process cut travel expenses and make the best-fitting candidates accessible regardless of geography.

Should you consider using video job interviews to hire people to work for you? When is it a smart strategy, and when is it crucial to meet candidates face-to-face?

A thorough understanding of the pros and cons will help you make the right call in each recruiting scenario you may face as an employer.

The good: 6 video job interview advantages

No one will deny – there are quite a few perks associated with conducting video job interviews that benefit both companies and candidates.

1. Cost savings

When geography is an obstacle, you can save a lot of money by interviewing people on video before paying to fly them out for face-to-face interviews. And if you think about soft costs, like the hiring manager’s time, there’s even more money saved.

2. Speedy scheduling

Often, setting up a videoconference is much faster than coordinating a face-to-face interview with multiple stakeholders. If you hire within a competitive talent market where scooping up quality candidates quickly is a crucial part of your strategy, video interviews can allow you to meet with top candidates early in the recruiting process. This can help to keep them interested in your company, despite being courted by other organizations.

3. Effectiveness

By and large, a first interview conducted by video or in person provides you with a sufficient outcome. Often, it’s a great fit for first discussions, teaching you many of the same things you would learn in a first face-to-face meeting.

4. Convenience and flexibility

Videoconference interviews often address the common obstacles of time and place in the recruiting process. For example, say you’re interviewing a passive candidate who’s working elsewhere. Remote video interviews allow these candidates to step out on their lunch break to speak with you without raising a red flag in front of their current manager – especially when you have several rounds of interviews, and it would be difficult for candidates to keep making excuses to leave work (e.g., doctor visits, home repairs, etc.). Doing at least one interview by video gives you a hiring advantage.

5. Standardization

Self-recorded video interviews from candidates can help you standardize your interview process by allowing you to ask candidates the same set of questions. This adds fairness and ensures all candidates get exactly the same opportunity to prove themselves.

6. Behind-the-scenes look

Video job interviews also give you something that you would never get hosting them in your office for a face-to-face meeting – the ability to see candidates in their element. Remember, candidates make choices (deliberately or not) about everything they hear and see on screen. If you get used to paying attention to this different set of details during video interviews, you can learn a lot.

The bad: 5 drawbacks to using video job interviews

There’s also no denying that interviewing candidates by video can adversely affect your recruiting process in some ways.

1. Technical glitches

If you’ve ever used videoconference technology, you’re well aware that things can go wrong, especially when one party is a first-time user. Interviewing over video may introduce challenges like choppy audio or a delay in the audio response, awkwardness making eye contact, distractions in the background and trouble creating conversational chemistry.

2. Loss of sensory observations

There’s definitely a personal element lost in videoconference interviews. You miss out on many forms of natural human contact, like the first handshake, body language and the sense of engagement only experienced when you’re sitting across the room from someone. The video medium may also encourage you to look down at your notes more often and make distractions more noticeable. It’s difficult to assess composure if you’re only able to see your interviewee’s head. You may be left with questions about their overall professional presentation, personality and potential cultural fit.

3. Loss of group impression

While you can orchestrate a rather large videoconference interview, there are limits to the number of people who can be involved without diminishing quality, especially depending on the type of technology you have available. If things go well, you can’t make a quick decision to walk a candidate around to meet a few more people in your office like you could during a face-to-face interview.

And virtual interviews for leadership positions are rarely suitable because direct reports don’t get an adequate chance to interact with candidates.

4. Reluctance

Passive candidates may decline a video interview if they’d rather not risk the video falling into the wrong hands and tipping off their current bosses (especially if you use recorded, one-way interviews in your screening process).

5. Proven negative consequences

Per a 2013 study outlined in Emerald Group Publishing Limited’s journal Management Decision, Greg Sears and Haiyan Zhang found that video job interviews are bad for both companies and candidates.

In this study, MBA students participated in simulated video and face-to-face interviews.

The mock candidates reported that they felt the video job interviews offered them less of a chance to perform and make a strong impression. They also gave significantly less favorable evaluations of their interviewer (on personableness, trustworthiness, competence and physical appearance) after the video interviews.

Additionally, the hiring managers gave candidates lower likeability ratings and overall scores and were less likely to recommend them for the position after the video interviews.

As a result, the researchers recommended that companies only use video conferencing for initial screenings and that they conduct face-to-face interviews before the final selection of candidates.

Set your video interview strategy

Comparing the pros and cons of video job interviewing shows that it’s a false assumption to believe these virtual meetings are equivalent to their face-to-face counterparts.

It also shows that, depending on your business needs and company culture, you should be open to video job screenings during the initial stages of the hiring process in some cases. They can be a great complement to in-person interviews.

Being closed-minded about video job interviews might keep you from good hiring opportunities. If the benefits outweigh the cost and the video medium fits with your company culture, as well as the nature of the role, do it.

Looking for more tips on how to hire your ideal candidates? Download our e-book, How to Determine if Your New Employee Will Stay or Bail.