Video interviews in the recruiting process: benefits or biases?
Video interviewing has become an increasingly popular tool in the recruitment process. When the video recruiting trend in HR began to take hold from 2011 to 2013, its popularity grew 49% to the point where six out of ten HR managers were using video to interview candidates . While this level of adoption has held in the five years that have followed, video recruitment approaches now segment into two categories:
- on-demand video recordings of standardized interview questions;
- less structured interactive interviews that use remote video conferencing tools.
These tools can be general use video conferencing tools such as Skype®, Zoom®, and Google Hangouts. Or they can be more specific applications such as Interview4® or Montage® that are designed for video interviewing tasks and work directly with corporate Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that integrate with job and resume boards, e.g. LinkedIn.com, Monster.com, Hotjobs, CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, Recooty.com.
Beyond remote video technologies, recruiters must still be able to build relationships with candidates
They must be able to see potential in candidates beyond their stated credentials, while being able to justify whether the candidate is a “culture fit” with the company, and/or potentially a “culture add”. Gauging a candidate’s interpersonal skills is still necessary, and ultimately the candidate must be convinced to take the job. Whether this happens through video technologies, or in-person with a face-to-face interview, there are costs and benefits across all options.
Video interviews involve technical costs of the video platforms being used, but these costs can scale at the enterprise level, and at that level it opens up the ability to do data analytics across larger groups of candidates. However, it takes an average of 52 days to fill a position, at a cost of nearly $4,000 per hire, and travel costs for candidates can make finding the best talent across a global pool prohibitive. Combining on-demand video recordings of standardized questions with live video interviews has led to an 80 percent decrease in time required for effective screening, as well as a 57 percent decrease in time-to-fill as a result of using video screening. 
Amid these costs and benefits are concerns about whether a company is spending time and money on too limited a pool of talent without the global reach of our current video recruiting technologies. Reflecting on the practice, I see how it favours those who are technologically savvy, but still find personal connection to be vital:
“Video interviewing is great in that it allows us to interview and vet candidates all over the world, not limiting us to our geographic location. However, I prefer meeting candidates in person if at all possible. It allows for a more personal connection and I feel more confident recommending candidates to clients after I have met them in person.”
Video interviewing has its share of criticism, but not everyone feels the same
The video screening process is not without its detractors, however, and the first concern that may come to mind is the depersonalization of personalized interactions that are vital for making hiring decisions. While these are designed to help employers understand a candidate’s fit, the convenience has its costs. Liz Ryan, the CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap, summarizes the problem effectively and to the point:
“If they screen people out using one-way video interviews, they don’t have to meet as many people face to face. They don’t have to forge a relationship or waste time with pleasantries. To put it bluntly, they don’t have to know you.” 
More concerning, however, are fears that videos from the video screening process will be used improperly (e.g. revealing names and identities of candidates without permission), or will not be handled and stored with adequate security measures for privacy requirements. Worst of all, Ryan suggests, may even be the perception of a company using one-way video screening in ways that are unintentionally biased, if not discriminatory:
“It’s a horrifying thought but we must think it anyway: what if video interviews have something to do with screening people out because of their appearance, their age or some other attribute that videotape makes plain?” 
Amy Rueda, director of strategic talent management for UCLA Development, sees it differently:
“I think people who argue that this tool can be used to discriminate are the biggest hypocrites – – – It is an argument that doesn’t hold water. If you are an organization that is inclined to discriminate, you are going to do it whether it is in a video interview or in person. If you are not an organization that is inclined to discriminate, you are going to be looking for attributes that are key to the placement.” 
Video interviewing is a technology to explore, adapt over time
Video interviews are still a fairly new tool in the recruiting process, and techniques and best practices around them continue to evolve. They may even be used to challenge and bring to light unrecognized biases in an organization, rather than contributing to them. And they can be effective. While Kevin Leh from Goldbeck Recruiting will argue that “nothing beats a face to face meeting in really feeling more confident in assessing a candidate”, he’s experienced real world examples where video interviews have worked out for all parties involved:
Some clients I find are actually feeling more comfortable doing video interviews as well. I had one client who had sort of made their decision through a video chat with an out of town candidate. They still set him up for a face to face informal meeting but starting that video chat help in getting a head start and securing interest on both ends. They were actually comfortable to make a hiring judgement even with just meeting the candidate through a video chat.
For others in the recruitment field, the costs, benefits, and concerns around video interviews will continue to require discussion both in face-to-face and online environments, as well as personal reflection beyond those spaces.
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