Article by Rupert Sellers

Telegraph film - female candidate on iPad 2

Using video as part of the recruitment process: Engaging or impersonal?

For candidates, nothing beats a face-to-face interview – and in most cases, that is the only way they are actually going to get hired.

But, in reality, it’s simply not practical for recruiters/hiring managers to meet everyone. It’s inevitable therefore that some candidates will consider video to be an impersonal recruitment tool. But let’s consider the alternatives…

Many recruiters are tasked with processing hundreds of job applications which arrive via a plethora of job boards, so how does a recruiter handle this process effectively?

Selecting candidates based on CV keywords – Is that the solution?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) function by sifting CVs on keywords. But many candidates these days are savvy enough to know that they can avoid elimination by copying keywords from the job description to their CV.

Sadly, there are many strong but less active candidates who don’t tweak their CVs to satisfy the computer (ATS) – and they can be rejected before an actual human even gets to read their CV!

This is where a recorded video can improve the process and provide insight beyond just words on a CV – Particularly helpful for customer service roles where personality and communication skills may be more important than qualifications.

Video provides more insight to pre-screen candidates than a CV

When a recruiter spends 10 seconds reviewing each resume, there are essentially 3 possible outcomes to this screening: YES, MAYBE and NO.

Typically, around 80% of the applications are going to be ‘NO’ due to lack of experience, qualifications etc. The YES resumes at this initial stage of the recruitment process might only amount to around 5% of the total and these candidates will progress to the next stage and are likely to be interviewed.

But what about the MAYBE’s? The ‘not sure’ ones where the CV doesn’t reveal enough about the candidate to know whether or not he/she should be included in the selection.

Video saves times and gives candidates the chance to showcase themselves to employers

This is where video works particularly well and gives candidates the opportunity to showcase themselves, demonstrate their soft skills and provide insight to the recruiter/employer that their two-dimensional text CV can’t show.

The asynchronous format (ie one-way, pre-recorded video) is the best way to save time as live video or phone screening often takes too long when there are lots of candidates to process.

More engaging

Video interviewing might seem ‘impersonal’ to some, but it gives candidates a much better chance to be considered and progress to a face-to-face interview than relying on a computer to pick out matching keywords.

Receiving an automated ‘regret’ letter due to non-matching keywords – that’s impersonal.

Interview in calendarWe have looked at Preparation for your Job Interview and now it’s time. Your interview is today! Here’s what you need to do for a successful outcome:

Don’t be late
It sounds obvious but so many candidates arrive late because they underestimate traffic etc. Whatever the excuse is, lateness creates the wrong first impression and you will probably be flustered throughout the interview worrying rather than focusing on your responses to the questions asked.

Body language
The first few minutes of your interview are critical when there is non-verbal communication. Compose yourself, take in the environment, gauge the mood, listen and observe. Read the situation and mirror the interviewer. If he/she is very formal, then you should be too. And if they are quite casual, take a similar approach but don’t come across as over-familiar – particularly at the start of the interview.

Get their attention
Does it feel like you’re the tenth candidate they’ve met today?! If so, you need to uplift the interview and instil new energy. Good eye contact and a warm smile will give you a good start. Sit appropriately – generally upright but lean forward occasionally to engage and show interest. Don’t slump in your chair as this will disengage and make you seem aloof and/or arrogant.

Let the interviewer lead the conversation
There’s likely to be small talk at the beginning which will help break the ice for you and the employer. Go with it and engage but don’t get carried away! Know when to stop so they can move on to the actual interview questions.

Answer the questions
When candidates are nervous it’s easy to go off on a tangent and ramble. Engage with the interviewer and take in the body language. Are they listening to you? Or are they just looking through you? If you are losing them, STOP! That will get their attention and you can then pull the interviewer back into the conversation and provide more snappy answers. Show passion, enthusiasm and humility. Frame your answers as if you would be working for them so that the employer can envisage what it would be like to have you on board. And if the interviewer asks a difficult question that you don’t know the answer to, it’s much better to say “I don’t know, that’s something I would like to find out” than trying to wing it with a poor answer. Honesty is always best.

Ask intelligent questions
Depending on the formality, it may be appropriate to ask questions during the interview, but generally your questions should come towards the end. Usually the interviewer will offer you this opportunity. Make sure your questions will contribute to your performance. Asking about company growth, future plans, scope of the job clearly demonstrates your interest level in joining the employer for the foreseeable future. Don’t ask unimaginative questions where you could have easily found out the answers. And in a first interview situation, don’t ask for micro details about the job – It’s not very relevant at this stage and it may suggest that you are concerned about whether the job is right for you – or whether you can actually do the job!

Get hooked!
Likeability is key to a positive outcome. Let your personality shine through so that the employer likes you and wants you. Too many candidates go into an interview with the attitude of “What’s in it for me?” (ie why should I work for you?) which creates a bad aura from the start and then they wonder why they weren’t invited for a second interview! Employers want to hire ‘can-do’ people with a positive attitude. In regards to salary, you should know roughly what the package is before going into an interview so that it meets your expectation but don’t ask about this or holidays or hours of work in your interview. Of course this information is important to you but it can be discussed at a much later stage in the process when you know they are keen to hire you.

Keep the door open
Always be courteous, however the interview has gone. You never know where this could lead you, even if this particular job is not for you.

Sincere thanks
First impressions count – and so do last impressions! Make sure you ‘close’ the interview positively. Thank the interviewer and let them know that you are very interested. And don’t be afraid to ask what the next steps might be. When you get home, send a short ‘thank you’ email. If you were the tenth candidate interviewed that day, you want to make sure you are remembered!

Click here for ‘Job Interview Preparation Tips’.

Calendar mark with Interview

If you are serious about your upcoming job interview, here’s what you need to do to ensure success:

Your interest level
Are you genuinely interested in the job? Will this opportunity give you the stepping stones to help develop your career? Your interview won’t be successful unless you can show 100% commitment.

Read the job description again
Make sure you are very clear about the job requirements and the skills the employer is looking for. Try to anticipate what questions you are likely to be asked and prepare your answers. Have examples of situations you have experienced that could relate to the job you have applied for. Also think about some intelligent questions that you can ask towards the end of the interview.

Do your research
Research the company thoroughly, as well as the department and team you would be joining. You can often find useful details from the company’s website as well as blog posts and their social media sites. You want to be knowledgeable about what they do and be aware of any new acquisitions/products/services.

Your strengths and weaknesses
Think about what you are good at and what you’re not so good at as there will always be a question relating to these. We all have weaknesses (or areas for development / improvement), so be prepared with your answer. You can often turn a weakness into a positive. Importantly you want to show that you are already making progress on improvement. This will show the interviewer that you are self-aware and driven to succeed.

Site visit
If possible, visit the venue where you will be having your interview beforehand. This will take away your worries about how to get there or how long the journey will be. And you will have more insight about the environment and the people. If it’s a hotel job, ask for a showround so you are familiar with the product. You will feel more relaxed and comfortable with this preparation – you could even slip into the conversation during interview that you visited earlier, an impressive way to show your eagerness!

Dress sense
Plan in advance what you are going to wear for your interview and make sure you dress appropriately. How formal/informal is the company? If in doubt, it is better to wear a smart suit than casual attire. But be conservative! The focus needs to be on you, the person. Avoid bright, dazzling clothes – and go easy on the make-up, nail polish etc.

Interpretation of your CV
Print off a copy of your CV and bring it with you, just in case the interviewer doesn’t have it to hand. Be prepared to answer questions relating to any gaps or unusual content in your CV. You need to be bold and confident about your experience and achievements, and have good reasons for any variances.

All set. Good luck!


Video interview - Tell us about yourself - detail
It’s the opening interviewing question that all employers want to ask: “Tell me about yourself”. As a professional recruiter or hiring manager, you will have many structured questions to ask the candidate that relate to their current job, such as how they cope in certain situations and what value they can bring to your organisation, but the great ice-breaker question that has stood the test of time is: “Tell me about yourself”

There is good reason for this question as it tends to work well for both interviewer and interviewee. The candidate has the opportunity to pitch herself and effectively present her case for ‘Why me’, while the interviewer can use this time to evaluate the person.

In less than 2 minutes of answering the question the interviewer will have subliminally processed information about what they see and hear. This quick evaluation is more on the presentation, inflection, body language, enthusiasm and mannerisms of the candidate than the actual words spoken.

It may seem unfair, but the substance of the answer to this opening question is not particularly important; it’s the delivery that counts. The content becomes more critical later on in the interview process, possibly in a 2nd or final interview.

93% of communication is about what you see and hear

Nonverbal communication is extremely powerful, and the model devised by psychologist Dr Albert Mehrabian (below) has become one of the most widely referenced statistics in communications:

  • 55% of communication is visual (your body language)
  • 38% of communication is your voice (tone, inflection, etc)
  • 7% is verbal (your words)

Furthermore, according to psychologists Willis & Todorov, it takes just one-tenth of a second for someone to judge and make their first impression (See “First Impressions” 2006). Of course, professional recruiters will spend more time to decide if a candidate should be selected or eliminated, but not much more time.

In the early stage screening process, a couple of minutes should be sufficient. There’s no need for a full blown interview.

To save time, ask the classic question in a Video Interview

When you are next screening candidates (beyond the CV), think about how much time you actually need to spend. Your 2 minute evaluation on candidates answering “Tell me about yourself” can be just as effective via a recorded video interview as it is in a live face-to-face interview.

The advantage of recorded video is that it can take you just 2 minutes to review one candidate, before clicking to the next candidate, and then the next.

You can’t achieve this speed and efficiency when interviewing candidates in person.

Article by Rupert Sellers

Telegraph film - female candidate on iPad

With the increase of video interviews to screen candidates, here are some top tips for best practice recruitment:

Firstly, decide which method of video interviewing you want to use. Do you want to arrange ‘live’ video interviews or asynchronous interviews? More about the pros & cons of each here.

The ‘live’ video interview

1. If it’s going to be a live video (such as Skype), think about how you are going to conduct interviews in this way. Many candidates who are currently employed are not able to find the time or place to engage in a live video interview during their working day, so as the recruiter or hiring manager you might need to be flexible and be prepared to Skype candidates outside your normal working hours.

2. For a live video call, as with a phone call, make sure you have prepared your questions beforehand so that the interview is structured and decide how much time you are going to spend on each call. This helps to enable a fair process with questions that are consistent for each candidate you interview.

3. As with any live interview situation make sure you write notes either during the session or immediately after. It might be time consuming but without documentation you will struggle to remember who’s who if you are screening numerous candidates. And if the process drags on over a few weeks, the interviews will become even more of a blur.

4. Let the candidate finish speaking when answering a question before you start probing. In a face-to-face interview, it is much easier to interrupt and maintain a good conversation flow, but in a live video there can be a slight time delay and interaction can be disruptive.

5. If you are conducting the live video call with other hiring managers present, do not confer among yourselves while the candidate is still ‘on air’. It’s disconcerting for the candidate if he/she can see you but not hear what is being said.

The ‘one-way’ pre-recorded video interview

1. This is the best time-saving option as you can quickly review your candidate responses to your preset questions on your dashboard by clicking from one video to the next (Watch the short video demo here). There are no scheduling issues as you will be sending a link to your selected candidates for them to record their interview in their own time. Creating a video interview online is easy, and can take just a few minutes to implement, but it’s worth thinking about what outcomes you want from this type of interview.

2. Compact Interview gives you the opportunity to create as many questions you like with unlimited recording time for each answer, but while there is this flexibility you should bear in mind that your candidates will be talking to a camera on their desktop, laptop or mobile – they are not communicating with an actual person.

3. Make use of the time limit setting for each answer. As a general rule of thumb, one or two minutes is usually a sufficient maximum for most questions, but if you wanted to ask your candidates to give a presentation on a subject, then up to 10 minutes might be appropriate. As a simple ice-breaker to kick off the video interview, you might want to start with: ‘Please let us know your name and where you are located?’ And you can set the time limit for this answer to just 10 or 15 seconds.

4. Compact Interview gives you the option to allow your candidates to re-record an answer and you can specify the number of attempts you are willing to offer per question. We highly recommend you use it to provide the best candidate experience possible. Learn more.

5. Set an appropriate deadline date for completion of the video interviews. Your candidates can record their interview in their own time, perhaps in the evening or over the weekend, away from their work environment. Of course you want the video interviews completed as soon as possible, but if you are inviting candidates who have heavy work commitments or are located overseas in different time zones, then a minimum 48 hours notice is recommended. At least five days is preferable if you really want to include your full selection in the process.

Finally, when you review the video playbacks on your online dashboard which you can do at any time, as well as share with other hiring managers, try to make allowances for a few imperfections and ‘umms and ahhs’. This is not a BBC broadcast and we encourage candidates to be as natural as possible. However, talking to camera can feel a strange experience particularly if it’s the candidate’s first time to record a video.

The video interview is best used as a quick, convenient screening tool to gather insight – particularly soft skills which cannot be shown on a CV. From the videos, the candidate selection can be narrowed down, ready for more probing questions that can be asked towards the end of the recruitment process in a face-to-face interview environment.

Matt Alder and Mervyn Dinnen talk about the rise of video interviewing in Recruiter Magazine June 2017 edition and how this screening tool is an interesting example of the difficulties and advantages of disrupting long-entrenched recruiting behaviours.

As more and more candidates embrace video interviewing, it’s great to review these feedback comments which were submitted immediately after completing their online interviews:

The following are also recent feedback emails from candidates using the Compact Interview system. All are genuine and unedited:

“An easy format that makes a video interview a pleasurable (as much as it can) experience. Easy to set up, follow and complete.

Thank you
Ben”

No technical know-how required:

“Amazing innovation and simple user interface. Does not require any technical know-how to operate.

Highly commendable tool.

Cheers”

Slightly scary but…

“What a great idea. Slightly scary to start off, but with practice becomes easier. Interesting to see one’s mannerisms as one talks as well – I’ve not recorded myself before.

Thank you”

Great for candidates abroad:

“To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity given. It has been my first time to record an interview and I must say it was a great experience. As I mentioned in one my answers, it is a great form of interview, especially for candidates abroad, which is my case.

I look forward to hear back from you soon, as I will be delighted to be part of (company name).

Best Regards,”

First time but would recommend again:

“I thought the video interview was very useful. It is the first time I have ever used this technique but would recommend using it again.

Many thanks”

Looking at the camera takes getting used to:

“This was a very different experience from what I am normally used to. However it was a good experience for me. One of the drawbacks which I have seen is that it is not easy to look at the camera as your eyes are naturally drawn to the screen. Otherwise from this, I think it was ok, it only needs getting used to this. Thank you.

Regards,”

If you would like to find out about Compact Interview and experience a free trial, please get in touch with us and we will be pleased to assist.

 

 

Sample CVArticle by Rupert Sellers

How useful is a CV today for hiring purposes?

Most recruiters are at breaking point as to how to handle CVs effectively, and quantity over quality is the constant issue.

To process the volume of applications generated from online job sites, many HR teams rely on automated keyword filters to sift CVs.

That might seem smart, but candidates who don’t include certain words that match the criteria set by the employer will immediately be discarded. Pity those highly suitable candidates that didn’t make the cut, simply because they chose to use alternative descriptive words in their CV.

It means that a lot of great talent is condemned to the reject file, without even being considered.

Candidates have a tougher application process than ever before and they are having to rely on the right keywords in order to make the initial selection. Unfortunately many keywords that appear in CVs do not reflect the actual candidate. Any candidate, good or bad, can add the keywords an employer is looking for – regardless of whether they actually have that skill.

The same applies to LinkedIn profiles: Users are renowned for overstating their skills, so how can a recruiter/employer find the right candidates based on a keyword search?

Advising candidates to copy keywords from a job description to their CV ridicules the recruitment screening process

Candidates will of course welcome advice and tips on how they can stand out and have their job application considered, but so-called ‘career coaches’ and ‘expert resume writers’ who constantly tweet the lines below are a nuisance for employers:

“#Jobseekers. Review the job ad & company website & mirror keywords in your resume that the employer uses.”

“#Resumetips: Beat the filters. Use keywords in your resume drawn from job descriptions or ads.”

These tips may help applicants in the selection process, initially at least, but this advice completely skews the keyword sift that so many employers rely on. Screening a text CV based on matching keywords to select talent is flawed. Employers and candidates deserve a fairer, more robust recruitment process.

See also: The diminishing value of a CV

 

 

My whole world is falling apart!Recruitment can be stressful, costly and inefficient – and many good candidates are slipping through the net. So maybe you need to change your application process.

Empathise with applicants

Candidates hate filling application forms, whether applying for a position directly on your website or via a job board. Of course recruiters want to glean information but it shouldn’t be an endurance test. Impersonal recruitment processes can be obstructive and many candidates will simply drop out if you force them through too many hoops.

At the initial stage, applicants may not have emotional attachment to your brand, so simplify your application process to keep them engaged. Take a moment to apply for one of the jobs listed on your site – you might be in for a shock. If the form is long and tedious, you need to change it.

Don’t rely on robots

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) may seem like a no-brainer for quickly eliminating candidates who don’t have the right skills and experience. But beware, many active job seekers know how to beat the system and embellish their CVs with keywords to pass the first sift. While others, often the more sought after talent, don’t spend enough time on their CV to add keywords that can be searched on by an ATS system. There is no substitute for human judgement, particularly when assessing intangible ‘soft skills’.

Beware of one-click job applications

Most job boards enable candidates to apply for multiple ‘suggested jobs’ at the click of a button. This easy process results in many users clicking the ‘Apply’ button without knowing anything about the employer and/or job. It’s not surprising that so many job applicants are unsuitable. There are many cases when candidates can’t even remember what jobs they applied for.

Don’t keep candidates waiting

Good candidates have limited time for applying and interviewing. They are busy in their jobs and expect the recruitment process to be straightforward and efficient.

If you are going to phone screen or meet candidates in person, make sure you provide sufficient scheduling options, and bear in mind that many candidates request interviews to take place out of office hours. When candidates come to interview, don’t keep them waiting and don’t drag out the interview process. It leaves a lasting negative impression of your organisation.

 

Job interview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tell us about yourself” and “Why do you want to work with us?”. They sound such straightforward questions, but the interviewer will hang on every word you say.

“Tell us about yourself.”

It’s an open-ended question that always comes up, usually near the beginning of the interview. It sounds like an easy one to answer – But it isn’t.

You have only a few seconds to create an impression to the interviewer and engage. If you get off to a shaky start, that first impression can be difficult to change. So make your story interesting and upbeat. You can start by saying which city you grew up in if you want, but focus on what is likely to be most relevant, such as your recent career.

If there is no interaction from the interviewer, nor body language signals to suggest you should keep talking, I wouldn’t spend any longer than one minute to tell your ‘story’. Don’t make this a long, drawn out monologue; only continue if the interviewer interjects and clearly shows interest.

“Why do you want to work with us?”

Can the interviewer envisage you working for their company and fitting with their corporate culture? Too many candidates give a standard ‘I want work for XYZ company because it has a great reputation and a friendly atmosphere’ And they regurgitate similar words for every job they apply for.

This is your chance to shine and stand out from other candidates. Do some thorough research on the company and try to find a hook that can give you a great answer. eg. ‘I’m very excited about XYZ’s expansion plans announced last month, and I want to join a company where I can develop my career and contribute to your company’s successful growth.’

The interviewer will probably take more note of your answers to these questions than any other in the interview, so make sure you are well prepared.