Video Interviewing

We first came across this in 2011 however its been quiet since then till very recently when we have just had two enquiries. Both were from clients considering if these tools would increase their efficiency of recruiting. If you are interested in these tools this is what we have found.
The tools themselves broadly divide into two. Those that operate one-on-one where the interview itself is being done online and those which operate ‘asynchronously‘ to use a technical term i.e. where the interviewer sets the questions and candidates answer in their own time. Both have their merits and as far as we can see there are three issues to consider when considering each: is it effective? does it increase your efficiency? and are you covered legally (note: we recommend you get separate legal advice)?

One-on-one Video Interviewing
The best known tool in the one-on-one segment is Skype. There are others, but Skype really is the daddy in this area and most people who have a reasonable knowledge of using a computer will have heard of it. Now owned by Microsoft, Skype has over 250m users, the basic package including video is free and it is widely supported on almost any computer and can even be used on many smartphones. Note – and not many people know this - using plugins you can also record video on Skype – both Supertintin and Ecamm for the Mac have good reports. However if recording see especially item 3 below re legal issues.

From our point of view as a technology supplier of recruitment management tools, these methods and tools integrate well with our standard offerings. If you are recording video and storing it on one of your servers we can even provide you with facilities to store a URL type link in the candidate record so you can quickly view your stored recordings.

1. Is it effective?
Well from personal experience and from what we hear, it does not seem to offer quite the same quality of experience as a face-to-face interview. Body language is not as apparent and sometimes Skype itself can be of poor quality (there is a study by Degroot School of Business in Ontario that found video interviews were not regarded as being equivalent to face to face by either recruiter or candidate). It does also assume that you have somewhere quiet you can do the interview – don’t even think of doing it in a busy office… Being able to view the interview again is we think a good thing from an effectiveness point of view – but that assumes you are recording it in the first place – see also 3 below.

2. Does it increase efficiency?

Well from a recruiter’s point of view it can save a lot of time as you can do it from your desk - assuming it can be done somewhere quiet. It is also good where candidate and recruiter are far apart as it can save the time and expense of travel. Most laptops come with webcams these days so it is reasonable to expect candidates for senior positions or those with a technology slant to have access to the technology. It is efficient compared to face-to-face interviewing however perhaps not quite as efficient as telephone interviewing which done well seems to work.

3. Legally?

The issue here is discrimination. Does visually seeing a candidate make it more likely that you might discriminate on one of the forbidden areas such as: age, disability, race, religion, gender etc. Attitudes and legal implications vary across the world of course. But even in the more litigious areas such as the USA from what we hear, employers have little trouble in justifying a video interview using Skype or similar, especially where it mitigates the effect of distance between candidate and employer.

Storing the video from the interview is another matter - it can be more legally problematic if you want to do this. You can get software that will save a Skype video, and other similar tools also have recording facilities. In our view you should take great care around storing and disposing of video interview materials and also on who you make this available to within your organisation. Recording video may be regarded as increasing effectiveness as it allows an interview to be viewed again. However if you are recording do please make sure this is done explicitly as recording a candidate without their consent could land you in warm, and possibly hot water.

Asynchronous Video Interviewing Tools
Unlike the real time one-on-one interview software discussed above these tools broadly consist of the interviewer pre-recording the questions and the candidates answering them later. Sometimes called “time-shifted” or more generally “Asynchronous”, it is because they disconnect the interviewer and candidate from a set, scheduled or common time.

The field has certainly expanded in the last couple of years. There are lots of companies offering this service – however almost all appear to be small and you should expect to pay a fair service fee for any reasonable/reliable service. Features clearly vary, but in essence they broadly allow you to record either by video or by text a series of questions for your vacancy and have these sent to your candidates with a login link to the service. The candidate logs in when they are ready and the service makes a video recording of them answering the questions. When complete you get an email advising they have completed the questions and you log in and review their answers. Some providers will even arrange to send webcams if candidates need it and some can manage this all on a candidate’s smartphone.

From our point of view, again as technology supplier of recruitment management tools, we can generally complement many of these services quite nicely. We can quickly provide a list of candidates and their email addresses for you to upload to the service if it allows this, or we can add an email template for you to send through the details individually. We can also store a reference – or ID - to where the video is stored on the service. If the service supports it, this can even be a URL link in the candidate’s record that will quickly take you to their recording on the service.

1. Is it effective?
Agencies and RPO’s (Recruitment Process Outsourcers) seem to have a better experience than employers with these tools from what we hear. Mostly we think is because it is new and the line-managers are not used to such tools. Also the Asynchronous method is much better suited to early screening of candidates than the one-on-one (e.g. Skype) method - probably explaining popularity with Agencies and RPO’s. The tools and method benefits from being necessarily highly structured given questions are all preset and given to each candidate. Indeed in the early stages when you are formulating your shortlist, in general the more structured the better. The implications of this are that you will likely use it to cover a greater number of candidates than the likes of Skype’s on-on-one and probably also at an earlier stage in the process. Another issue to be aware of is that – despite the marketing from the video interviewing companies – not all candidates see the benefits and may be put off.
It is worth pointing out that many employers will find that good use of their recruitment system’s registration/application questions will help considerably with screening as will use of tools such a psychometrics and assessment testing. There are other tools you can use. It is thus in our view very likely be to most effective as a secondary screening tool and for roles where a high personal use and orientation towards technology is expected.

2. Does it increase efficiency?
You can clearly survey large numbers of candidates with a preset question list using these tools, though you will still need to view the responses. Whilst it will likely be quicker to review video responses – and certainly be less tedious - than doing each individually one-on-one; you may well end up spending a lot of time if you have many candidates to go through. So yes, it will per candidate likely be more efficient. However the danger is you may mitigate this by surveying more candidates. In our view this makes these Asynchronous tools more efficient where used in early stage screening and only where you expect to survey a large number of candidates. Note this includes being more suitable for high churn roles where you can repeat the setup and questions over time.

3. Legally? All these services will be providing a stored copy of the candidate on video. Like one-on-one video interviewing above the issues are also similar e.g. does visually seeing a candidate make it more likely that you might discriminate on one of the forbidden areas. There is lots of chitchat on the web about the legal ins and outs (EOC in the UK and EEOC in USA for example). We have had one client who looked at this and decided not to use recorded video for legal reasons. However, we think the Asynchronous highly structured and one size fits all nature when used in the early stages will likely not be too contentious. Clients, though should take great care over access to recorded video and ensure it is archived/disposed of once the recruitment has completed.

Many of our clients use Skype – or similar – where distance is an issue. As far as we are aware very few actually record the sessions – please note you can - see ‘One-on-one Video Interviewing’ above. The newer “Asynchronous” tools however have had little take up - yet. The clients we have spoken to have been wary over: the legal issues, how candidates might perceive it, the work involved in settling up question sets and not least will their managers actually use it.

We think the Asynchronous tools have their place and certainly from what we see many/most (?) can be easily supported by our own recruitment systems. BUT NOTE - they are a good option only IF you need something beyond: your current recruitment system’s application question sets; your current use of psychometrics (assuming you use them); the use of other suitable assessment tests – AND - you need to further filter down larger sets of candidates in the earlier stages of recruitment, AND you accept you the need to spend time reviewing the video, AND you have checked with your legal people. THEN Asynchronous tools are likely to a very good option and will probably become more common as time goes on.

Note for clients if you want to integrate with one of the Asynchronous systems let us know early on as they are changing all the time.