Article by Rupert Sellers published in Strategic HR Review – Volume 13, Issue 3 (May 2014)
How technology is changing the way HR works
Just two years ago, asynchronous video interviewing was a relatively unknown concept. Whilst Skype was (and still is) being used to interview candidates, particularly for international recruiting, very few HR teams were familiar with “one-way” video interviews where candidates record their answers to questions and the employer reviews at a later time. Today, the term “video interviewing” is a hot topic amongst the many innovations in HR technology, and whilst the term does encompass “live” video interviews, there is a growing demand for the asynchronous model.
Automating the recruitment process – how practical is this?
Technology does not always handle this people function well. For screening talent, an applicant tracking system (ATS) can be programmed to search for keywords in a CV, but what happens if a candidate has suitable experience and skills and does not include the right keywords? The computer might wrongly eliminate such a candidate.
If ATS systems are not able to select CVs accurately, can technology help the very “human” process of interviewing? The answer is yes. A video interview system does not select candidates, it facilitates the process. The recruiter or hiring manager decides which candidates to select, not the computer.
How video interviewing works
Asynchronous video interviewing (or “on demand” video interviewing as it is also known) typically occurs at the initial stage of the hiring process and allows candidates to record answers to questions that have been pre-set by the recruiter. As this is not a live exchange between interviewer and interviewee, candidates can take the interview at a time and place that suits them – and avoid any disruption to their work environment.
Following is an overview of the merits of live video interviewing and asynchronous.
Live video interviewing
The obvious benefit is that “live” provides a two-way exchange and the interviewer is able to interact with the candidate. This can be an enriched version of the telephone screen or it could be a more in-depth interview depending on the circumstances.
Video conferencing emerged in the 1990s and in the last ten years we have seen the rise of two-way video such as Skype and Facetime; we can therefore relate to this medium and understand it. But using live video for interviews brings challenges. The interview needs to be scheduled and candidates often struggle to find the time and place during working hours to hook up on video, leading to inevitable delays. Furthermore, a live video interview typically takes much longer than a one-way interview, and it is difficult to cut short a session even if it becomes obvious after a few minutes that the candidate is unsuitable.
Asynchronous video interviewing
One-way, pre-recorded interviews save considerable time and are more convenient. As there is no scheduling required, candidates can record their interviews when it suits them – typically at home in the evening or over a weekend, and without any disruption to their working day. Recruiters receive an automated email for each completed recording and the online dashboard enables them to click through each video with ease. They can watch, review and assess the videos whenever and however many times they want and share them internally amongst other stakeholders in the hiring process. The collaboration and insight gathered helps to ensure the most suitable candidates are invited to face-to-face interviews.
However, asynchronous video interviewing is best used as a quick screening tool (beyond the CV). It is not a substitute for face-to-face interviews, regardless of what some vendors may claim. Interviewing is a critical recruiting competency where the interviewer uses behavioral based methodologies to interact and probe.
As with live video interviews, there are no geographic boundaries, but whether a candidate is based overseas or based in the same city as the employer, all selected candidates are expected to take an asynchronous video interview. This ensures fairness as all candidates in the process answer the same questions for a particular job and have the same time allocated for their responses. It provides a uniform, structured approach to select the most appropriate candidates.
So how do candidates feel about taking a video interview? A few years ago there was resistance, not least because many candidates did not have a webcam or because they had weak internet connections that could not properly support video. Consequently, the whole experience was rather clunky and awkward. Today, the plug-in webcam is almost obsolete as users veer towards laptops and mobile devices with built-in functionality.
Although recordings on laptops and desktop computers are still the most popular, there is an increasing shift towards tablet and mobile device usage (iPads, iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, etc.). Not only does a candidate’s mobile device provide a more convenient and intuitive interview experience, but the quality of sound and visual is vastly superior. Not all candidates feel comfortable on camera and some would wish for a more personal experience, but it is now widely accepted that the video interview gives them the opportunity to showcase their soft skills and move a step closer to a job offer.
In 2013, Metashift conducted a three month research project. Whilst there was a lack of comfort with the technology for the companies not using video interviews, 80 percent said they were considering it and a significant proportion said they planned to pilot it. The employers who were already using video interviews had only positive things to say about their experience and the reaction from candidates was also generally very positive (Alder, 2013).
Technology is here to stay
Asynchronous video interviewing can effectively close the time gap between CV sifting and final stage face-to-face interviews, saving hours spent on scheduling, phone screening and even first round interviews.
As we continue to embrace mobile and video in our everyday lives with a plethora of tech gadgets, it is inevitable that video interviewing is here to stay. How quickly HR teams adopt this technology remains to be seen, but it will surely become mainstream soon.
Rupert Sellers is based at Compact Interview, London, UK
Alder, M. (2013), “Metashift blog”, July 2013, available at: www.metashift.co.uk/blog/?month=july-2013