Archives For video interviewing

Article by Brian Westfall, Market Research Associate – Software Advice

Research shows that candidates who have done a video job interview before embrace video more than a phone interview.

More and more employers are using video interviewing software for their remote interviewing needs, which can be daunting for job candidates used to the classic phone interview. So Software Advice, a company involved in video interviewing software research and reviews, conducted a survey of nearly 400 random people who have applied to a job in the last two years to find out how they feel about interviewing for a job through video.

It seems any trepidation among potential job applicants with video job interviewing stems from them never having done one before. Those that have never done a video job interview before (46 percent of respondents), say they would prefer to do a phone interview instead of a video interview (67 percent for phone versus 19 percent for video). The rest of our respondents who have done a video interview before are the opposite, preferring video to phone (47 percent for video versus 36 percent for phone).

Remote Interviewing Preferences

This goes to show that once a candidate does a video interview, they warm up to it. But getting a candidate comfortable with their first video interview can be tricky.

When it comes to drawbacks with video interviews, respondents say the most significant ones are possible connectivity issues (27 percent), and being uncomfortable on camera (21 percent). There are a number of things that candidates can do to secure their connection, including using wired internet and closing any other bandwidth-eating programs. Some video interviewing platforms even include features for users to test their connection.

If interviewees are uncomfortable on camera, it can be hard to fix, but practice is key. For a pre-recorded interview, hiring managers could allow candidates to re-record their responses to get them right. Some systems also allow for practice runs before recording a real response.

Interviewers would also be wise to keep video interviews under an hour by saving some questions for a follow-up in-person interview. Thirty-four percent of respondents say after an hour, they would consider the video interview to be too long.

All of this knowledge is important, as a negative video interviewing experience could be detrimental to the employer. If they had a self-described negative interviewing experience, 86 percent of respondents say they would be more likely to not accept a job offer and 68 percent would be more likely to tell others not to apply.

Knowing how to create a positive video interviewing experience can help employers find their ideal candidate.

View full article from Software Advice

Article by Rupert Sellers

Profile photos - smallIt’s a long standing debate about whether or not a candidate’s photo should appear in a CV.

More often than not, published articles advise candidates not to include their photo as it could lead to discrimination – and some quote that there is an “88% job rejection rate if candidates have a photo of themselves on their CV”. Really?? It’s worth noting that this ‘statistic’ was compiled by a company called ‘Be Hiring’ over two years ago (Try finding them on the internet; I don’t think they exist anymore).

It’s time to be more realistic in today’s visual, multimedia age about how a CV / resume should be presented. And employers should stop overly worrying about discrimination implications due to a photo.

Think about LinkedIn and how powerful this social network has become as a recruiting source. LinkedIn’s Nicole Williams makes the case that “You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have (a photo). Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.”

In Susan Joyce’s piece in the Huffington Post, she feels if you can be visually judged when you meet someone in person then why is a photo any different: “If someone doesn’t want to hire me because of my age (shown by my gray hair), they won’t hire me whether they see my gray hair in my LinkedIn photo or in person. So, I feel that I’m saving my valuable time and energy by making it clear who I am.”

We have all become far more visual in our communications, so why should a CV be any different? The photo personalises the CV and helps the individual to be more identifiable rather than just another applicant.

Video interviewing takes visual a step further (before any face-to-face interviews), giving candidates the opportunity to showcase themselves by answering questions on video that have been pre-set by the employer. Compact Interview provides this straightforward service as part of a growing number of employers’ recruitment process, and the visual and audio insight is proving invaluable.

It’s true that age, sex, race and possibly religion can be determined from a photo or a video, and of course when a candidate meets an employer in person. But instead of worrying about discrimination employers and recruiters should focus on best practice recruitment: Treat applications professionally and don’t be influenced by a candidate’s appearance other than grooming standards and dress sense (which are important factors for customer service industries such as hospitality).

Photos and video undoubtedly enrich a text CV, so let’s stop putting off candidates from including their photo and embrace the visual, multimedia age we all live in.

Article by Rupert Sellers

mobile video interview

What do employers and candidates want to achieve from an interview process? 

Obviously, the right match. But both parties also want a fast process.

It’s fair to say that if a candidate was given the choice: Either being invited to a face-to-face interview or invited to record a video interview for an employer, they would probably opt for the face-to-face.

And so would I.

Unfortunately, it’s often not practical for an employer to meet all the applicants that have passed the initial CV sift, unless there is only a small handful in the selection. Each interview is likely to take about an hour if you factor in the scheduling time and preparation time.

By contrast, an employer can create a video interview, using their own questions, and then email the link to as many candidates as they like – and this process can take less than 5 minutes. The recruiter / hiring manager can then get on with other job tasks whilst the applicants record the interview in their own time. The recruiter is alerted every time a new video has been recorded which can be reviewed whenever convenient on a user-friendly dashboard.

Positive and negative reviews

I have read many articles about video interviewing, most of which are positive. But there are also stories that aren’t so favourable, such as a study last year by DeGroote School of Business in Canada, which featured in a CIPD article in March 2014. DeGroote claimed that using video conferencing for job interviews disadvantages both employers and candidates and that “video conference interviews are not equivalent to face-to-face interviews”.

Let’s put this in perspective. Of course, video interviews are not going to be on par with a face-to-face meeting. They’re not meant to be (and anyone who says you can simulate a face-to-face interview is wrong). Asynchronous (ie pre-recorded / one-way) video recordings should only be used for candidate screening purposes. And once the employer has reviewed all the videos and narrowed down the selection I would absolutely expect the next step to be in-person interviews.

Talking to myself on camera – Weird.

It’s easy to poke holes at the concept of a pre-recorded interview where you answer questions on video – and yes, talking to your mobile device or PC with webcam might seem strange. And some think video is impersonal. But it works and it’s a fast growing phenomenon. This medium is providing considerable value to the employer – and the candidate.

Thousands of candidates have been given the opportunity to showcase themselves on video to employers. In a traditional process, there is too much reliance on words in a CV and many are not given the chance to reveal who they really are. It’s easy for the employer to send an automated ‘regret’ email, but a lot of good talent gets overlooked.

Having been a recruiter for 14 years in the hospitality sector, I have interviewed many candidates who didn’t shine particularly well on paper but had oodles of personality / soft skills and were highly suitable for jobs. On the flip side, I have also interviewed hundreds of candidates who didn’t sparkle as their CVs had indicated.

So before making a judgment from academic studies about whether video interviewing is or isn’t for your organisation, try it and see for yourself how beneficial this tool is for a slick recruitment process. It’s fast and effective which is what both employers and candidates want.

As the CIPD video interviewing article concluded: “For now… the revolution continues unabated.”

You can sign up for a free trial here: www.compactinterview.com/sign-up. It takes 2 minutes and if you want any help we can assist you with creating your interview.

 

Article by Rupert Sellers

Telegraph film - female candidate on iPad 2

Is Video interviewing engaging or impersonal?

Of course, nothing beats a face-to-face interview for a candidate – and in most cases, that is the only way a candidate is actually going to get hired.

Unfortunately for the applicants, it is simply not practical for recruiters/hiring managers to meet everyone. It’s inevitable therefore that some 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 keywords – Is that the solution?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) claim they have the answer by sifting CVs on keywords. But many candidates these days are savvy enough to know that they can avoid elimination by adding 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!

I am not suggesting that the solution is for every single applicant to take a video interview. The review process would be far too time consuming for the recruiter.

Don’t overlook the MAYBE candidates!

But consider this… 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 interviews work particularly well and give candidates the opportunity to showcase themselves 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

So… video interviewing might seem ‘impersonal’, 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.

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

References

Alder, M. (2013), “Metashift blog”, July 2013, available at: www.metashift.co.uk/blog/?month=july-2013

Article by Rupert Sellers

Telegraph film - female candidate on iPad

With the rapid 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 PC, laptop, mobile or tablet – 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. This might seem a strange feature but 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.

6. 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.

Article by Rupert Sellers

TRACC - Candidate recording interview - photo 2

As video interviewing becomes increasingly popular, many employers still relate the concept to Skype video calls. But a professional talent screening system can offer many more benefits.

A recent survey of 194 companies in the UK revealed that 92% of their HR teams were familiar with ‘video interviewing’. However, when these people were asked what they understood about the concept, only 23% were aware of asynchronous (one-way) recorded video interviews. The vast majority associated video interviewing with Skype or other live video platforms.

Demystifying the term ‘video interviewing’

There are two types of video interviews:

Live video calls: Using Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts the employer schedules calls with the candidates and then has a conversation, typically for 20 to 40 minutes, with each candidate. The video call is generally instead of a phone screen.

Asynchronous video recordings: The employer creates the ‘interview’ online, adding questions that are appropriate for the job vacancy, and then sends a unique web link to the candidate selection. Candidates record answers to the questions in their own time, which are then reviewed by the employer.

What’s wrong with face-to-face interviews, you might ask

Of course, nothing beats face-to-face interviewing, but in most cases it is not practical or necessary until candidates have been screened. Relying on the CV alone is not best practice. While some candidates clearly don’t have the skills and experience to meet the job requirement, there are often many others that could be suitable but don’t make the initial selection. Research conducted by The Ladders showed that recruiters only spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s CV before deciding whether he or she is a fit for a job. Video interviews can be a useful filter in the initial screening to provide insight and identify soft qualities such as ‘smile’, ‘warmth’ and intonation. The process helps employers to select the most appropriate candidates for face-to-face interviews.

The benefits and shortfalls of live video and pre-recorded video

The benefit for both the live video and asynchronous video models is that they can overcome geographic boundaries. Interviewing via video makes a lot of sense if a candidate is located miles from the employer’s office or is located overseas, but there are some practical issues if the interview is ‘live’.

If there are a number of hiring managers involved in the live video conference, everyone’s diaries need to be coordinated so that they are in sync. But the bigger issue is scheduling candidates to engage in a video call during their working day. Many candidates can only hook up to a video outside of working hours, which is then inconvenient for the hiring managers.

One of the great benefits of asynchronous interviewing is the significant saving of time, and the convenience for both employer and candidate. At Compact Interview, we feel the tool is most effective when only 4 or 5 questions are set with time limits for answers of no more than one minute per question. With this ‘360’ snapshot on candidates, there is no need to set up telephone screens or Skype calls – and in many cases there is no need for ‘first round’ interviews. Another benefit is that the candidate videos are saved and can be reviewed by all the relevant stakeholders in the hiring process before deciding on which candidates to meet in person.

One disadvantage with the ‘one-way’ model is that the employer is unable to ask probing questions, but we feel that behavioral interview questioning is better suited to a face-to-face environment, when only the shortlisted candidates are being interviewed.

Asynchronous interviews are best used during the early stages of the recruitment process, and a high volume of applicants can be video interviewed with ease. This model ensures fairness and provides consistency. All candidates in the process answer the same questions for a particular job and have the same time allocated for their responses which provides a uniform, structured approach to select the most appropriate candidates for face-to-face interviews.

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.

speed

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.

 

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.