I can still remember how annoyed she sounded: “But we spent all that time and money interviewing and assessing you!”
The HR manager had called me the day after a successful interview and offered me a job. And I’d had to turn her down (I had a better offer elsewhere).
I’m not surprised she was annoyed. Interviewing and assessing candidates face-to-face is expensive. There are schedules to clear, rooms to book, and resources and people to pull together.
But help is at hand, according to an increasing number of recruiters. Dip a toe into the Google Ocean and you’ll find a lot of HR professionals talking about how more and more companies are using video interviews to hire the right candidates. But how many companies really are doing this? The answer is quite a lot.
In 2014, Monster.co.uk and University College London (UCL) surveyed the recruiters on Monster’s database to identify future hiring trends. Use of video interviews was one of their key findings, with 48% of respondents saying they were already using video as part of their hiring process. Other studies from the US suggest American recruiters are even more enthusiastic about using video, with one study suggesting 60% of recruiters regularly use video to carry out remote job interviews.
Still not 100% convinced, I sought out further evidence that big companies were embracing video, and I found it at the UK Post Office. Faced with thousands of applications for temporary Christmas roles, the Post Office worked with video specialists Sonru to incorporate video interviews into its hiring processes, and the results were pretty good to say the least.
“It saved around 80% year-on-year in terms of travel, venue and similar costs,” said Brett Davies, resourcing manager at the Post Office, “Previously, prospective candidates would have attended an assessment centre with up to 20 trained assessors hired for the day, so we could easily be spending £50,000 to run 10 assessment days.”
By this point, I was starting to feel convinced, but I wondered how a recruiter might use video for the first time. The one-way video is one simple approach. After initial role screening, the best candidates can be contacted and invited to answer a list of questions and tell their story by submitting a video. Recruiters can then get an early look at possible recruits from the comfort of their desktop. And if one of these candidates seems special, recruiters can then arrange a Skype call to ask more questions.
The video interview obviously offers advantages to business, but what does it mean for the talent pool? For a generation familiar with daily YouTube uploading and Skype, the video conversation may actually provide a more relaxing platform to sell themselves compared to a conventional interview. However it might not be quite so relaxing for candidates that haven’t grown up with YouTube, or for people who don’t feel comfortable on screen. One way of getting around this is to ensure that the video interview process also offers candidates clear advice on what the recruiters are looking for and easy mistakes to avoid.
Video obviously offers great time and resource saving advantages for business, but the key thing that sold it for me was a little more human. Recruiting process improvements can sometimes be impersonal and, in worst case scenarios, alienate candidates. But integrating video into the recruiting process offers a way to save time and money, and provide more opportunities for human interaction between recruiter and candidate.