Social recruiting is here to stay, so should we be using candidate video interviewing more? (Multiple contributors to this post)


Last week, I decided to write a blog post on the use of video interviewing in the recruitment process. Rather than just give you my opinion (which you are going to get anyway!), I asked people on LinkedIn and Twitter what they thought – little did I realise the interest it would create!  Here are 18 responses from all over the world to my question:

Social recruiting is here to stay, so should we now be using video interviewing more, and if so,what is the best method to use?

There are some very interesting points raised in this post, and please feel free to agree or disagree with any of the contributers in the comments section at the bottom of the blog post.

First, my answer, and it is fairly simple:

We now live in the 21st century and video technology has moved on leaps and bounds over just the last two years. The proliferation of things like webcams and mobile phone cameras, have given more and more people the confidence to talk into a camera. Surely, now is the time to factor this into the recruitment process somehwere?
I am not advocating using it as a primary selection tool, but maybe as a filtering tool – maybe to take a long list down to a short list of candidates for a face to face interview.

The cost of travel and travel time is getting very expensive, so if we can use technology to help the interview process, then shouldn’t we be doing that?

Louise Triance owner of the largest recruiters network in the UK – UK Recruiter gets us started with a bit of an anomaly  – she starts with a no, then a yes, yes, no and a maybe!!
Andy Well, my first thought is that “video interviewing” can’t exactly exist. An interview is a two way process and video can only be one way (at a time). However, video conferencing can/does exist and so do video “screening”. I’m sure I’ve written on my own blog about how I think video conferencing is a great way to run interviews for geographically diverse individuals/organisations. I think that things like skype/twitter integration will make this more common and easier to manage. In terms of video screening I’m less sure of how that’ll pan out. What are you envisioning? Will jobseekers have to go through a series of questions, by video, to apply for a job?

Dimitar Stoyanov from the innovative video platform company Inovaz  takes a differing opinion from Louise:
This is a really interesting topic that we’ll be hearing much more about in the very near future. It is a topic that I myself have a very strong opinion on and have written quite extensively about on my blog (dedicated to online video interviewing). Unlike Louise Triance, I think “video interviewing” can and does exist (in fact we have just finished developing a fully automated web-based video interviewing platform).
I do however agree with her that thus far interviewing has indeed been a “two way” process, but also think recent technological developments in webcam technology and cloud computing have now enabled us to gradually start shifting to a “one way” interviewing process. I think whether you call this “one way video interviewing” or “video screening” is secondary.

What really matters is that it completely eliminates the logistical burden of setting up video conferences (a major issue particularly when there are large time differences involved) and saves you a lot of time and money.

Mark Williams the man they call @Mr_Linkedin, because he is a great LinkedIn trainer  has obviously been living in a cocoon for the last few years, because he wasn’t aware of it actually happening!! That aside, he makes some very valid points indeed:
I have not come across video interviewing before (as opposed to video conferencing or skype etc) but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Apart from the time difference advantages mentioned above I think it could give an interesting perspective on a candidates qualities. I am making some assumptions here;
1) The questions are flashed up on a screen and the candidate is not able to prepare
2) The candidate is not able to edit the results Assuming the above 2 points are correct I think it could be quite exciting and even give a different result to a face to face interview.

I don’t like panel interviews as they create an intimidating atmosphere for the candidate but the problem with one on one interviews is that so much of the outcome can be influenced by the interviewer/ interviewee chemistry and the interviewers attitude (or mood) on the day as well as their own individual prejudices (often simple things such as the quality of their handshake, colour of their shoes etc). These things are less likley to count when several people are able to individually review the video interview. It is human nature that sometimes when we meet someone we just don’t ‘hit it off’ but is this an objective appraisal of the candidates qualities and when they sense this, does it affect their performance? – I wonder whether video interviews may help to reduce this impact. As is always the case with things of this nature, you really cant judge it until you try it but the concept seems very promising to me.

Gareth Jones is the leader of the HR recruitment company – Courtney HR  – and let’s be fair, there were two certainties with gareth’s reply – first he would quote the 90’s, and secondly he would disagree with me…….and he didn’t let me down….ha ha ha:
Hi Andy topical one this! Ok, as you would expect, i’m going to say something about the 90’s! lol, no really. Back in the late 90’s i came across a company called TalkingCV. I think the brand still exists but it got sold etc. At the time they planned to put booths in service stations for people to drop in and respond to pre-structured questions. I tried it myself and it was kinds weird but interesting. The problem was reach as the tech wasn’t good enough really and the internet/web wasn’t mature enough.

I think this kind of thing is inevitable now though given the growth in ‘easy video’. Not sure it will be replacing main stream interviewing wholesale but i think there would be many applications in terms of screening for grads say or indeed for any role where either volumes or the issues of distance were an issue.
What i’m not sure about is the legalities – we live in litigious times and i can imagine people might start crying fowl on the basis that they have been discriminated against because of the way they look etc. dunno, just a hunch! “One way interviewing” doesn’t sound very social does it?!

Graham Ruddick is a digital marketing

consultant and has experienced this from both sides – as a candidate

and an interviewer – some great insight:

Andy, I have used video interviewing in both directions, both as

interviewer and interviewee. My conclusions were pretty similar after

each. In both cases one party was in the UK and the other in the US and

on both occasions we were using pretty high grade corporate VC equipment

(although what was high grade equipment 3 years ago is probably pretty

humdrum today). The technology is important because it profoundly shaped

the experience and the perceived value.
So the good points:
It’s pretty

obvious that in two interviews we saved two cross pond flights (and a

great deal of time). The opportunity to ‘see’ someone allows us to be

more confident in our opinions of that person (please note I’m not

suggesting that those opinions are necessarily more accurate – that’s a

different thing altogether). We were able to cover a lot of ground in a

way that, perhaps, a telephone would not allow. When we did meet face to

face we were much better prepared for whom we met – possibly making the second interview

more effective.
Bad points:
Even with the top grade technology the lag

made completely natural speech impossible. The interviews just did not

have the cadence of a real conversation. Indeed in both there was far

more interrupting and overtalk than would normally be considered polite

and there is a real demand that both parties have to ignore these

limitations for it to be effective. It seemed to me that the opinions

formed were risky, the environment is, and feels, artificial (if an

interview ever feels natural) and I think you have to be be quite

sensitive both as interviewer and interviewee not to let this colour

your perceptions. The irony is, of course, that in both cases we did

feel the need to meet. I think it is safe to say that the video

interview felt incomplete for both parties on both occasions. In the end

I wasn’t convinced. I felt that the limitations of the visual

technology meant that the interview was no more accurate/useful than a

telephone call. It did feed different things into the process but I

think both parties have to be quite experienced in the use of video to

make it a true replacement for face to face.

Mario Gedicke  from the video resume company Mayomann  has a vested interest, but to be fair makes a veru valuable point  and because he referenced my favourite smartphone – Blackberry – I won’t ask why the company is named after a sandwich filler ! 🙂
You are starting a great topic and I am glad to see that it creates a buzz in regards to Video interviewing, Video conferencing or in general Video Employment. The internet becomes more and more accessible to everyone and even the government helps jobseekers to reach out through the internet and providing free internet excess. 
Video will be the next social recruiting revolution as the IPhone and Blackberry have revolutionized the mobile world. If you interview a person in your office or using a web cam and engaging with the applicant that way, it does not matter, you still follow your script. However, the process becomes faster, because the applicant has the interview from his home and you in your office. Both parties are comfortable in there own environment and therefor more relaxed and to nervous. It probably gives the applicant more encouragement.
Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites take away the barrier.

Todays world looks different than it has a few years ago. And in a few years the world will look different again.  Cameras, webcams & phones are ready to make videos and it is certain that HR will include that medium into the recruiting process. Once it access the HR world, regulations will come in place, standards will be found to ensure occurrence as it has over the past few decades. 

New rules will apply and standards will be set. The world is now ready to include this way of recruiting or hiring with internet being so accessible.

Phil Haslehurst is the Marketing Director from the digital recruitment agency Propellondon . He makes a valued point with regards to candidate “feel”:

As specialists in the digital industry, it’s very important to us that we’re on top of the latest uses of technology in recruitment. After all, our clients are all deeply passionate about new technology themselves.  Video interviewing is something that we’ve just started to trial as part of our overall recruitment process. All of our consultants meet their candidates face to face as standard practise – it’s the only way to truly engage with their requirements, and to assess their match with our client’s needs.

Video interviewing could never replace this method in terms of reliably getting a good “feel” for a candidates chemistry with our client. However, we hope that used in conjunction with our profiling, and a strong CV,  video interviewing will give our clients yet more information with which to make the right choice when it comes to hiring.

Bill Fischer (@billfischer) is the co-founder of Twitjobsearch and a big reason why this post was written in the first place, after my recent post on his Skype innovation:

Our company has made some investment in building tools to facilitate video interviews because we believe that the benefits to recruiters and jobseekers are so compelling that it will be adopted as a standard part of the recruitment process.  That being said, we allow candidates to create video profiles and recently launched an “apply via Skype” feature that makes it possible to set up a video interview with a single click, and yet these services are still more talked about than used. It’s unclear to us, what will be the catalyst that pushes the use of video interviews to the mainstream. 

From looking at Twitter updates, we’re seeing lots of candidates Tweeting about a job interview via Skype and with over 500 million users worldwide, we expect to see more of this.  So increasing VOIP adoption is part of the equation.  In phone surveys with HR professionals and job seekers, since most first interviews do not lead to jobs, that these in person meetings eat up a considerable amount of time/money to the recruitment process and a video interview could easily replace these first screening interviews.

A realization of time saving and reduction in travel expense could push more adoption of video interviews.  Since most of the time savings accrue to the job seekers, we think that much of the push to have video interviews needs to come from them.  In this market, job seekers are still not in great demand, but as hiring increases, our guess is that we will start to see more video interviews as part of the recruitment process.

Bill Wynne is the Managing Director of the recruitment company  Project Resource Ltd, is obviously hoping that video interviewing will go mainstream:
We have yet to see video interviewing being used by any employers we supply, namely in the construction, civil engineering or infrastructure industries.  However, I can see how creative job seekers and especially those in advertising, marketing, IT may use such a medium, but will people working in construction, civil engineering, accountancy, public sector, etc. really want to embrace or use such a method?  I suppose only time will tell. This undoubtedly will become more prevalent amongst generation y, but will it really take hold, I am not sure.  Here is the issue, people like to meet other people, see them face-to-face, see the white of the eyes, before they make an important decision to hire.
With You Tube being the second most used search engine there is a case for everyone to have a career profile, but not everyone wants the spot light, some of this technology is not embraced by all, traditional methods will prevail in many employers.  However, speaking as an employer for my business I like to see creative thinking, I like to believe I am open to new ideas, so I am intrigued to find out how the future recruitment landscape will evolve.

Mandy Barder is from the digital and social media agency  The 4 Mores  has raised, what I thought more people do – presentation:
I think video interviewing could throw up some real controversies and it will certainly change the way in which people apply for jobs and present themselves. The pace and the reactivity will increase and people will have to be even more prepared to sell themselves at the click of a button..potentially. Having a candidate being able to give an instant, visual pitch of themselves should appeal to employers and recruiters because it means they can speed up the recruiting process greatly. The way Skype is built into TwitJobSearch is a really efficient and clear way for candidates to engage with employers and recruiters, so I think Skype is the way to go with this. It just means candidates will have to adapt their job searching habits online to the immediate expectation of being ready to sell themselves in the flesh (sort of!).
And recruiters will have to start considering video as a valuable tool to engage with their candidates and clients. It’s a two-way process. 

Ian Franklin is the CEO from the recruitment firm GloRec Ltd and is already experienced in using video interviewing, so has a valid point:  
 I regularly do interviews using Skype and ooVoo! Many of the assignments my business manages are international and based on the proviso that my overseas clients and candidates have access to a webcam and Skype or ooVoo, then it can be more cost effective to do interviews in that way….as well as, of course, less time consuming. My Consultants and I also record each and every interview so that we can reproduce it for our client if as and when required, subject to approval be the interviewee.
We do occasionally undertake the same type of interview for candidates in the UK and Ireland, especially when urgency is a requirement – this often happens with Interim Management.

Mike Taylor owns the consultancy and is a big user and advocate of video’s:

Andy I think video interviewing has a place but it will vary in its usage depending on the industry you are recruiting for. Its a bit like social media at the moment, with some companies really embracing social media in recuitment and other companies not exactly sure how it can work for them? It certainly has benefits at the intial interview stage where applicants are a long distance away, or even in a different country. However, the technology is getting far easier (and cheaper) to use and I feel sure that as a result there will be an uptake in the usage of video interviewing in the next 12 – 24 months.

Greenfield IT Recruitment Agency look at the question from the recruiters perspective:

Hi Andy, From a recruiters point of view, I hate it, it’s another step forward in de-personalising the recruitment process… but I said that about email in 1994! I personally believe it will have some uptake from the “big brand” employers who have plenty of candidates clambering to apply for roles within their business, the likes of Apple, Google, Accenture and KPMG are likely to embrace this technology as a part of their selection process I have two clients who have used video interviewing.
One is a software firm, they utilise it as a replacement / extension to their online technical testing of developers. They think its great, technical questions that require technical answers. While looking at the face and demeanour of the potential employee as they wax lyrical about C#, Java or something equally exciting. The other is a sales and marketing business; they found some great “presenters” who bombed in the second stage interviews as they failed to engage with the interviewing managers. This firm was quick to bin the video interview as irrelevant to their needs.
So overall I would say that the video interview concept has some legs in the right domain, while others will poo poo it.

Justin Hillier  is the owner of one of the top social recruiting consultancies in Australia – Social Recruiting 360 and has a typical Aussie straight to the point approach:

Many people scoff at the thought of video as an effective tool for recruitment & employee communication, however in the age of Web 2.0 tools and companies competing for Talent, video is one of the key tools in connecting and engaging with a candidate more then most. Utilising video is a great way to enhance or speed up the hiring process.  Maybe the candidate is remotely based, maybe your schedules are not lining up, maybe you want to save time and travel costs.  Whatever the reason using video can add a different dimension to the early stages of the hiring process.  You certainly don’t need to do this of course for every
job, but when appropriate why not try it, what do you have to lose.

Adam Gretton from the excellent video content website Careerplayer  obviously reckons that video is a no-brainer. Adam can talk from experience because all the content on their site is career based:

As technology matures, we should embrace it.  Not just for the sake of it – but to enjoy the efficiencies it can afford an organisation. Obviously I’m an advocate of video, being that I now represent However, there are many aspects to video and many uses – some good, some bad. Ours is for ‘broadcast’ and ‘career information’.
Other uses are for video CVs – not currently a good idea IMHO. Video interviewing is a great idea, for the right situation, and if done well.  It has to be a positive experience for all parties involved so the technology needs to be robust and well tested.  Better than a telephone interview for various reasons. I would have loved this when I did IT recruitment – although probably would have used it to assess client-facing candidates more than techies who sit in dark corners and don’t come across well face-to- face anyway!  It has environmental benefits, enabling you to do an initial ‘face-to-face interview without having to travel. 
I think we’ll see much more of this very soon, and in three years or so we’ll find it hard to imagine life without it.

Bill Boorman, the man behind all the TRU conferences naturally provided me with something different – a video interview! So here is the video clip:

Alex Hens  creator and owner of the of the excellent recruitment product HarbourATS . Now, Alex is not known for his ability to write a precise answer, so while it is a little long (!) he does make some excellent points:
Although I am not a Professional Recruiter, nor someone who has recruited more than perhaps 2 dozen people in my Professional lifetime, I feel I wouldn’t inherently have a problem with doing a video interview – as a Employer or as a prospective applicant. I’m sure there are many ways to skin this particular cat, but two in particular spring to mind – a removed process where the applicant is asked to record their responses to several questions and the recruiter gets to review (and select against) what comes back in their own time, or the other where the interview happens in “real time” across a two way link. So let me give my opinion on both.

Firstly the “remote” recording of answers. As an ATS provider ourselves we’re waiting for a client to give us the need to work with one of the established providers of this technology to set this up and see how it goes for ourselves. We know it can be done quite neatly within the recruitment process (as much as any remote psychometric or skills based testing that we may be more used to), and I can see that it might be novel and quirky for the candidate whilst potentially saving a lot of time, and probably some cost, for the recruiter.
But I can’t help having reservations about how well the majority of candidates would take to it – real Joe Public. I’m not sure there are that many people that love seeing themselves on screen (or are we to believe we’re all becoming YouTube egomaniacs) – hell I wince seeing myself in that tiny window if I videocall on skype. So whilst that said I’d personally give it a go, I just don’t know whether something that could make some people feel even more uncomfortable than an interview would actually be all that well received in terms of the Employer Brand. But whilst I know there’s a pretty compelling case for time and cost savings I think in general mainstream HR will have their usual risk and change averse impact on this and so it’ll be a few years away before we get to see the kind of volume of user studies that will show anything close to categoric.

Secondly you have the “real time” interview across a two way link. For small companies and Recruitment Consultants I think this could quite quickly become quite something quite normal. Why waste your time (candidate) and my time (recruiter) on a first interview that could be going nowhere fast when we can hook up on the web and be done in half an hour. Now someone would have to give me info on how many webcams there are in the wider populace before we can guesstimate how quickly that may happen, and an important step will be for all entry level computers, screens and phones to come with them installed as default, but at the current rate of progress maybe that’s just around the virtual corner.

However for big companies, those who will force this up the recruiting process acceptance table (or not), the problem I’d foresee is one of audit trails and the associated arse covering that provides (unfortunately much needed in these sad litigious days). I’m sure the capability is there to record interviews very easily, which could then in turn be associated to a candidates profile in the ATS, but many clients I work with are still on IE6. To enable every recruiter to have private (or mobile) internet access with a webcam and video call record facility just isn’t something I can see the IT director signing off so readily. Oh – and I was also being a little disingenuous about the ability of most established ATS’ – there’s generally nothing that’s particularly “simple” and in my previous experience you’d have to get additional budget for them to change their legacy codebase to allow it happen in an ish-kinda-sorta way.

So in summary – yes, I think we should be open to it, but I can see a lot of barriers that will be slung, or indeed just remain, in the way, which is a shame for pioneers in the field. However technology advancement will eventually filter through despite the best efforts of corporate IT and “suddenly” make it something that people just got use to as much as many people are getting used to skyping their parents the other side of the country/world on Sunday afternoon to stick the grandkiddies in front of the webcam to grin for as many minutes as a chocolate treat (or threat of violence) will keep them there for.

So there you go – a straight forward subject – or so it seems generated much debate, and I am sure that it will continue in the comments section below.

A big thank you to all the people that took the time to send me their opinion, I think you will all agree it is a pretty comprehensive view on video interviewing!!

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