Let’s not stress about video job interviews

November 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

Providing a good ‘candidate experience’ is on every respected employer’s radar, so why create unnecessary stress?

Job interviews are understandably stressful for candidates. But should the pre-screening version – ie talking to camera on video – be the same?

One-way recorded video interviews save time in the early stage recruitment process and are supposed to help an employer decide who to put through for a face-to-face interview.

Video can provide a lot more insight about a person than a text CV. Candidates can introduce themselves, showcase their soft skills – personality, how they communicate etc.

Unfortunately, most video interview systems provide exam-like conditions for users – eg candidates are given only one chance to answer ‘blind’ questions. Some employers may feel that’s fair:

That’s how it is in a face-to-face interview, isn’t it?

Well no, not really. If you want to provide a good ‘candidate experience’, it’s important to recognise the different interview environments.

Talking to camera for 2 or 3 minutes with no interaction from an interviewer does not come naturally for many, particularly if candidates are experiencing the asynchronous (one-way) video interview process for the first time.

By contrast, in a live meeting, candidates have the opportunity to engage with the interviewer. If they’re not getting a good vibe whilst talking it’s often possible to get back on track by adjusting the answer, perhaps adding further explanation to what they are trying to get across.

Then, why bother with video interviews, you ask.

There are many benefits to video interviews. They save hours in the recruitment process and are convenient for employers and candidates. But to make this innovative process work successfully, there needs to be a great user experience.

Here are just a few reasons why video interviews should be treated differently to face-to-face interviews:

  • Body language – In a live meeting interaction, non-verbal behaviour is two-way. The interviewer assesses non-verbal behaviour, but so does the interviewee. Whilst answering a question, the interviewee is usually able to gauge if the interviewer is interested or bored, and can up the tempo if necessary.
  • Understanding the question – Candidates in a live interview sometimes start their answer with a question: ‘Do you mean…’ Most of the time, it’s not due to a language barrier, but a tactical way to find out more from the interviewer what answer they are looking for. It’s also a delay tactic so that the candidate has more time to think about how he will answer the question.
  • Technophobia – As intuitive as the video interview process may be, some people will always feel uncomfortable with computers and gadgets, and their unease will show on the video.
  • Camera shy – Some people just are!
  • Disruptions – You are at home and in the middle of recording your video interview. The dog starts barking, someone walks into the room and interrupts – It happens!

So, should a video interview be rigid and exam-like? Or should there be some flexibility so that if something does go wrong during a recording, the candidate has the opportunity to re-record an answer in their video interview (rather like modifying an answer in a face-to-face interview)?

Having researched and developed Compact Interview over the last 4 years, we feel video interviews are most useful for providing quick insight on candidates and showcasing soft skills – a fairly stress-free process for candidates. Offering flexibility with our system and the opportunity for users to re-record answers if they wish, are attractive benefits to optimise the candidate experience.

It’s these small details which help to engage candidates and prevent them from ‘dropping-off’ from the interview process.

Does that mean candidates can cheat? I wouldn’t call it cheating. It depends what you want to achieve from the video interview process. If you make it too rigid, you may find that candidates will not complete the interview. This could result in good candidates being eliminated for the wrong reasons.

If video is used in the right way, it can be very beneficial in the hiring process for both candidate and employer.

Rupert Sellers

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I spent most of my career in luxury hotel management which included senior roles with Ritz-Carlton and Four seasons, before specialising in recruitment 12 years ago. In 2012, I launched Compact Interview which enables employers to screen candidates directly with customised video interviews. Our privately held company is based in Shoreditch, London.

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