Archives For HR

CIPD logoCIPD Report: Commenting on the Labour Market Statistics for February to April 2014 released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Gerwyn Davies, the CIPD’s Labour Market Adviser, said:

“A quarterly increase of almost 200,000 full-time jobs shows that employers are becoming more optimistic about the future.  Young people seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of this increase, which may be fuelled in part by the growth in formal training schemes and the appetite shown by an increasing number of employers to invest in their future talent pipeline.

“Meanwhile, the latest statistics also show that the number of public sector jobs fell only very slightly by 11,000, which aligns with our survey of employers. We are now seeing the education and health sectors making some new hires and replacing leavers. But we should not assume this is the end of public sector job cuts. The medium term outlook for the public finances suggests further job losses are likely in the next few years.”

Davies continues: “However, despite this positive picture, recruitment difficulties are yet to feed through to employers, which may partly explain why the pay trajectory appears to be moving in the opposite direction.  The government’s welfare reforms, the availability of EU migrants and the latent supply from the under-employed are just some of the reasons why employers are still yet to report difficulty filling vacancies.  However, the CIPD is urging employers in all sectors to start planning ahead to mitigate the risk of more widespread difficulties in the longer term.

“The fall in the rate of earnings growth also reflects the unwinding of events a year ago when some employers delayed bonus payments and pay rises to take advantage of the reduction in the top tax rate. Businesses may be expecting to invest more but this has still to show up in higher productivity growth and, until this happens, there is little leeway for higher earnings growth.”

Source: CIPD published 11 June 2014

Article by Rupert Sellers published in Strategic HR Review – Volume 13, Issue 3 (May 2014)

Strategic HR Review logo

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.

Candidate experience

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
Rupert Sellers is based at Compact Interview, London, UK


Alder, M. (2013), “Metashift blog”, July 2013, available at:

Love hearts

Article by Rupert Sellers

It’s Valentine’s Day. Romance is in the air …with a computer.

Romcom Golden Globe Winner “Her” the movie is out today in UK cinemas. It gives a fascinating insight on how our relationship with technology might progress in the near future. This film boldly states that ultimately life is about relationships, and not much will really change. Technology will discretely enable those relationships.

Technology shouldn’t feel like technology

In this futuristic movie, or ‘slight future’ as Spike Jonze the director calls it, there’s technology everywhere but most of it is invisible and blends into people’s everyday lives without being the centre of attention.

Technology is shown as more people-centric. It’s not there to dazzle with gimmicks; instead it’s more behind the scenes in a constant supporting capacity.

It’s very much how I see Compact Interview. As a video interviewing service working closely with the HR community, this technology is not meant to dazzle. It’s there to support our clients with their recruitment process. On the face of it, talking to a camera to record a video interview might seem impersonal, but this quick and easy form of showcasing candidates to employers is much more effective than relying on the traditional CV during the screening stage.

We are passionate about relationships with our clients and ensuring that their candidates are engaged and have a good experience in their recruitment journey. All too often, candidates are judged by the content of their CV and if the keywords being searched for don’t appear, it’s the end of the road.

In my 12 years of recruitment I have met a number of great candidates who have applied for jobs and been rejected unfairly at this first hurdle. Fortunately, many of these same candidates have gone on to secure great jobs with other employers soon after the disappointing experience.

Adoption of video interviewing technology might take time for some employers, but it’s inevitable that this will be mainstream in the ‘slight future’. The good news is that this screening tool is available right now and many employers have embraced this technology, reaping the benefits of the the time and cost saved to fill their vacancies.


Article by Rupert Sellers

Nobody doubts that technology has had a huge impact on our lives. It speeds up processes and it has transformed the way we gather information and communicate with one another.

It’s staggering how the pace of technological innovations is escalating, but some of the more recent product releases lack purpose and value to the user.

Firstly, let’s look at some key milestones over the last 50 years starting with the desktop PC:

50 years ago: It’s 1964 and the first desktop personal computer is launched by Olivetti

40 years ago: Video games led by Atari become widely available to the general public

30 years ago: Apple’s Mac computer launches in 1984; Microsoft launches Windows shortly after

20 years ago: The internet is gathering pace – There are 623 websites at the start of 1994. Today there are nearly 1 billion websites

15 years ago: The founders of newly launched Google move from a friend’s garage to nearby offices. The business is taking off…

10 years ago: In 2004, a new social network called Facebook is launched. It follows LinkedIn and MySpace which launched the previous year

5 years ago: The world goes App mad… Twitter goes mainstream… Android phones go mainstream… 

…While Apple’s iPad is yet to launch.

As sales of tablets overtake PCs, it’s amazing to think that the iPad was actually launched less than 4 years ago.

With revolutionary products such as Google Glass expected to launch before the end of this year, nothing seems impossible. But technology needs to be useful, relevant and straightforward.

Tech geeks need to ensure they don’t create things just because they can. Take the latest smartphones, they’re packed full of features but many of these can be confusing, leaving users with a complicated experience.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 phone has been criticised for having bloated software and just too many gimmicks.

Yes, you can scroll through pages using eye movement, and move pages with ‘air gesture’ without touching the screen. Pretty amazing stuff, but do they provide any value for consumers? It would seem not, as these features are likely to be removed when the new model is released.

The following incident from a CIPD blogger illustrates how our ability to use technology can fall short of matching the opportunities it offers.  Although he’s a big fan of technology generally, he came unstuck in a recent panel discussion on the subject of social media. He used his iPad for his discussion points but incoming emails kept appearing on his screen in front of his notes, completely obscuring what he’d intended to say next. Read the full story here.

As for video interviewing, this screening tool started to build momentum in the US about 5 years ago and it’s now really taking off in the UK and internationally.

Video interviewing is a great concept and it’s an effective way to screen candidates, but it only works well if the system has been designed to provide a good candidate experience. Like smartphones or any other tech tool it needs to be intuitive, uncomplicated and void of gimmicks.

Those that develop technology need to ensure their users can embrace it.


Kevin-Pietersen - small

If an individual has a track record for outstanding achievement and contribution to a company’s success, but also has a track record for disruptive behavior, would you hire such a person?

The England Cricket Board (ECB) is currently in turmoil, having just fired Kevin Pietersen, arguably England’s best cricketer – See Telegraph detail.

We don’t yet know the reason, but it’s almost certainly due to this cricketer’s fractious behavior and the disharmony he caused amongst his team.

Was this maverick a divisive empire builder? Was he late for team meetings? Was he rude to the captain? Maybe, but he was also England’s best performer on the cricket pitch.

This is a common scenario within the business community. Would you run the risk and employ a high-performance maverick in your organisation, or would you settle for a more conventional, but less outstanding person?

CIPD - New recruitment guidance for employersCIPD publishes new guidance for employers

New guidance for employers on what constitutes good practice when conducting pre-employment checks on job applicants has been released today by the CIPD, the professional body for HR & people development.

Drawing on consultations with HR professionals and employment lawyers, ‘Pre-employment checks: an employer’s guide,’ offers advice to employers who are struggling to keep up with the pace of change in recruitment methods. These issues continue to make the headlines, and regularly focus on the debate over the right to privacy associated with employers checking job applicants’ activity on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter during the recruitment process.

The guide highlights the need for HR professionals and others involved in recruitment to exercise due diligence to find out if applicants might bring the organisation into disrepute, or cause difficulties with managers, colleagues, customer and suppliers. It also highlights the legal risks and ethical challenges involved if inappropriate steps are taken or applicants are not made aware of the checks being carried out and given a chance to respond to findings.

CIPD’s recent social media research revealed that two in five employers look at candidates’ online activity or profiles to inform recruitment decisions, but few inform applicants as a matter of course that this is being done. But just how aware are recruiters of the legalities around this kind of vetting? Employers have wide discretion within the law to decide whether or not to recruit a particular candidate.  However, to avoid risk of legal challenge they should be fully aware of the law on data protection and discrimination in employment.

Other key recommendations include:

  • Employers can help to manage the risks of candidate dishonesty by using declarations of truth and ensuring employees give permission to allow employers to research their qualifications, experience, dates of employment, and right to work in the UK
  • Employers should take reasonable steps to validate the accuracy of information accessed online
  • A  distinction should be drawn by employers between social media for mainly private purposes and social media for mainly professional purposes (e.g. employers can check LinkedIn but not Facebook)
  • Employers should seek employment references once a job offer has been made, not prior to interview
  • Employers should apply the same level of care in avoiding unconscious bias and discrimination when online checks are being conducted, as they do when conducting face to face interviews or other aspects of the recruitment process
  • When using recruitment agencies, employers should agree what pre-employment checks are necessary and appropriate. Where outsourcing takes place, it may be unclear which organisation is responsible for conducting pre-employment checks in the first place. But where this responsibility is outsourced, the employer must recognise that they retain overall responsibility for the legal and ethical consequences of either lax or over-zealous approaches to pre-employment vetting and could suffer reputational damage where practice is poor
  • Employers should establish the potential employee’s eligibility to work in the UK, in order to avoid statutory penalties for employing foreign nationals who do not have lawful permission to work in the role in question.

Mike Emmott, Employment Law Adviser at the CIPD, comments: “There’s an increasing public recognition of the need for employers to adopt practices that are both legal and ethical when conducting pre-employment checks. It’s important that employers take an active approach to researching an applicant’s background to avoid problems further down the line. Many people admit to having lied on their CV, particularly about their experience, qualifications or salary. You might think that this kind of bad practice would have become less prevalent with the rise of LinkedIn and Twitter, which for many can now act as a de facto electronic CV, but it is still a real issue. Employers have a right to check candidates’ online profiles, but they shouldn’t go on fishing expeditions to find out details about their private lives.  They need to ask, is this information strictly relevant to the job the candidate is applying for?

“With the recent blacklisting scandal making the headlines, pre-employment checking has been brought into sharp focus. But current issues in recruitment are far more complex than they first appear. We hope that thisguide will clear up some of the grey areas for employers and help avoid costly mistakes.”

The guide also includes an appendix on key legal issues relating to pre-employment checks, produced by Fox Williams LLP.   CIPD members can access more advice on a range of legal issues in the ‘Employment Law FAQs’ section of the CIPD website.



Article by Rupert Sellers

Michael O'Leary - large

Well, not Ryanair. The airline’s boss, Michael O’Leary hasn’t given a damn about customer service for 20 years and has been very public with his foul-mouthed comments. When he was promoted to Chief Executive in 1994, his mission was to revolutionise air travel across Europe with a low-cost, no frills model – similar to Southwest Airlines in the US. With ruthless determination, O’Leary’s plan worked and today Ryanair is one of the world’s most profitable airlines.

But times are changing. This month, Ryanair has declared that profits are down, while their rival, easyJet has just announced a 50% jump in pre-tax profits. So what’s going on? Has O’Leary’s free PR campaign, using ‘negative publicity’ for his appalling customer service, finally backfired?

To have created a low-cost, no-frills airline model is a good thing and there are numerous budget airlines now operating in this space. We are all influenced by price and Ryanair’s success is largely down to being cheap or the ‘cheapest’ – a word that O’Leary constantly uses whenever interviewed.

But no company that relies on paying passengers to fill their planes should get away with a blatant disregard for customer service. The term ‘customer service’ is nothing to do with frills, such as free meal and drinks (as was standard on all airlines pre-Ryanair). Most customers are happy to dispense with frills for the sake of keeping down price.

Customer service is about attitude – which costs nothing

Customer service is about attitude, genuine care and empathy to people. Having worked in the hospitality industry for most of my career, great customer service is essential for a hotel to be successful – and it’s not just for external customers, but internal customers (ie staff) too.

Technology and Customer service

If customer service is essential for the Service industries, what about the Technology sector? We live in an increasingly automated, self-serve world – and for the most part, technology has made our lives a lot easier. We use multi-function smartphones and tablets; we shop online; we bank online; we compare things online. But when something goes wrong with the transaction or we can’t find something we are looking for, technology can be extremely frustrating.

Invariably, customer support is automated – We type in the problem and an FAQ panel provides a possible answer. If this hasn’t solved the problem, we want human contact.

Technology companies strive to differentiate with their product offering but, however slick and useful it is, the real winners in technology are those who embrace customer service and who solve problems for customers efficiently.

HR Technology and the human touch

In the people function of human resources, new HR technology tools are increasingly being used to streamline processes such as payroll, applicant tracking, recruiting and training. But many of these tools become redundant or are under-utilised if good customer service is not provided. Video interviewing is a classic example; the process is simple and intuitive but HR managers are going to be reluctant to use this screening tool if they are not fully supported by the customer service team. At Compact Interview, we have developed our system using the best video technology but we know that our human contact and empathy with clients and their candidates is what really helps us to be successful and set us apart.

Customer service is vital for any business that interacts with people. As profits dip at Ryanair, Michael O’Leary has decided to change tact and get touchy-feely with his customers. Really? I’m not convinced he will learn what genuine customer service is any time soon.