When and How to Hold Video Interviews
Getting the Best From Remote Recruiting
Hamish is recruiting new members to the sales team. His HR department has asked him to conduct the first-round interviews on video, as it's more convenient and less costly than holding them face-to-face.
Hamish understands the benefits of video interviews, but he's apprehensive. He's never interviewed anyone on video before, and he's concerned that he'll miss something important if he doesn't meet the candidiates in person.
Video interviews are becoming routine in many organizations, and many of us now face the same dilemma as Hamish.
In this article, we examine how you can decide whether video interviews are the right approach for you – and, if they are, how to conduct them to get the best results.
If you're the video interviewee, rather than conducting the interviews, read our article, How to Ace a Video Interview.
The Rise of Video Interviews
In 2011, just 14 percent of organizations used video interviews. By 2016, this had risen to 71 percent, driven by globalization and rapid improvements in technology.
They range from simple, one-on-one video chats using familiar apps such as Skype and FaceTime, to videoconference-style panel interviews, to pre-recorded interviews, where candidates respond to a set of predetermined questions.
The Pros and Cons of Video Interviews
One of the advantages of video interviewing is that it enables you to speak with applicants anywhere in the world, which gives you a much larger pool of talent to draw from. (You may already use telephone interviews for the same reason, but video can give you a clearer picture of your candidates – literally!)
Video interviews can make recruitment faster and more flexible. They can take place at any time, not just during regular office hours. No travel is required, which cuts costs and is kinder to the environment. They can also create a level playing field for people with disabilities who might find it difficult to get to your location.
And, using video demonstrates that you have your "finger on the pulse" of the latest technology, which can send positive signals to your potential employees.
But technology has its downsides, too. Technical problems or a poor data connection can turn the most promising video interview into a frustrating and dispiriting experience for both parties.
And video interviewing can impair the performance of some applicants and interviewers, especially if they are camera-shy. (Some candidates may even withdraw their applications if they're faced with the prospect of a video interview.) It also affects your ability to build rapport, and to use and read Body Language.
Another drawback is that video can restrict the format of your interviews. Group or panel interviews, in particular, can be a challenge. This may limit you to a pre-recorded or one-on-one format, which isn't always appropriate.
Are Video Interviews Right for Me?
To assess whether or not video interviews are suitable for your situation, ask yourself the following four questions:
1. What Is Your Organization's Usual Interview Process?
Most organizations have established recruitment procedures. So, consider how video interviews fit with yours.
For example, if your organization's policy is to conduct just one interview with each candidate before making an appointment, you may be uneasy about this being conducted on video. You wouldn't meet the applicants in person at all, and they wouldn't see their potential place of work or get a "feel" for the company.
But, if you usually conduct multiple interviews, perhaps you could start with a telephone interview, use video for the second round, and make your final decision after interviewing the best applicants in person.
2. Who Are You Interviewing?
Think about your candidates: where they're based, the type of job they're applying for, and how confident they'll likely be about interviewing on video. Be sure that you're using video to find the best person for the job, and not just for your own convenience!
Bear in mind the skills and attributes that you need to assess. For example, if you're hiring for a role that involves digital communications, a video interview can help you to assess the candidates' level of ability and comfort with the technology.
3. How Quickly Do You Need to Recruit?
Video interviews can be useful if you're working to a tight deadline and you need to evaluate candidates quickly. But take care to consider all of the same selection criteria that you would in a round of face-to-face interviews.
4. What Technology Do You Have Available?
Standard video chat apps may not include all of the features that you need for your interviews, so consider whether you need additional tools.
For example, you might want to ask candidates to provide written answers to some of the questions, or to submit documents during the interview. Perhaps you want applicants to pre-record their responses so that they can be screened by HR or other managers.
Online recruitment platforms such as HireVue, Spark Hire and BreezyHR offer features like these, so consider your requirements in detail and, if necessary, shop around for the package that best suits your needs and your budget.
How to Conduct a Video Interview
If you do decide in favor of video interviews, you'll need to prepare and run them properly to get the best results. Consider the following tips and techniques:
Start planning for "live" interviews well in advance. Give your candidates all the information that they need about the format of their interviews, links to the software that they will use, and so on.
If possible, log in and test your software ahead of time. Check that the other person can see and hear you clearly, and make sure that you know how all of the features work.
Technical problems can be stressful and disruptive, and they can give your interviewee a negative impression of your organization. So, it's a good idea to have a backup plan. You could conduct the interview on the telephone instead, for example, and make sure in advance that you have the means to do so if something goes wrong.
Set the Stage
Choose a quiet place with a suitable backdrop, and clear away any distracting clutter. Position your webcam at eye level, so that your head and shoulders are shown squarely on the screen, and dress as you would for a face-to-face interview.
Make sure there's enough light for your interviewee to see you clearly, but avoid direct sunlight or other bright lights that shine onto your screen or camera. This will prevent "glare."
Break the Ice
Make a positive first impression by smiling warmly as you greet your interviewee.
Introduce yourself, outline the agenda for the interview, and ask whether the candidate has any questions about the process before you start. Do your best to put him or her at ease.
Check that he can see and hear you and, if the connection is poor, offer to disconnect and try again.
Listen Actively and Don't Rush
Shut down any unnecessary applications on your computer and put your phone on silent to keep distractions to a minimum.
Be sure to give your interviewee your full attention. Show that you're engaged by listening actively, and by nodding or interjecting with words like, "Right," "OK," or "I see." (But be aware that on some systems, only one person can speak at a time.)
Allow for a short time lag between your questions and the candidate's answers. Give her time to respond, and resist the urge to fill any "awkward" silences. She may be considering her answer, or there may be a delay in the connection.
You can ease the interview along by giving clear signals, such as saying "Over to you" when it's the other person's turn to speak.
Video interviews can be a quick, convenient and cost-effective recruitment method. This has made them a popular choice in many organizations. But, before you follow suit, ask yourself whether video interviewing will produce the results that you want, and avoid the temptation to use it "just because you can."
First, consider your company's recruitment criteria, the individuals that you will be interviewing, the attributes that you need to assess, and the tools that you will need.
Then, to conduct a successful video interview, prepare thoroughly in advance, check your technology and data connection, choose an appropriate setting, and engage with your candidate by listening actively. Apply the same level of professionalism to a video interview that you would if you met the candidate in person.