With social media here to stay and influence all aspects of business practice, will video interviewing become the norm during the recruitment process?

As a regular follower of Andy Headworth’s Tweets and blog I read with interest the current debate surrounding the pros and cons of using video as a central part of the job application process. Canvassing the thoughts and opinions of some of the leading players within our industry – some for and some against – his blog is a thought-provoking piece. Here’s my tuppence worth.

As the blog rightly points out, Mario Gedicke (aka Mayomann) has a vested interest in all things video – as that’s how he makes his living. However, his comment that both interviewer and candidate will be “comfortable in their own environment and therefore more relaxed and [less] nervous” is surely something of concern? Conducting an interview whereby the candidate is at home is something that I would not recommend. Here’s why.

Firstly, it is an uncontrolled environment vulnerable to external influences, such as the doorbell or telephone ringing, the interviewee’s housemate or partner arriving home impromptu, or next door’s dog suddenly have a barking frenzy adding to the background noise, for instance. What happens then – will the candidate be able to retain control and focus on the interview at hand or will the ‘noise’ prove too irresistible to ignore resulting in the loss of composure and concentration? Oh, and has anyone actually considered that most job interviews take place during the hours of 9 to 5 and not when the candidate is at home?!

Secondly, just as hiring managers have been known to make pre-determined character judgements on candidates after researching them on social networking sites such as Facebook et al, these same recruiters may also make assumptions based on the visible background of the interviewers environment – even if unconsciously made judgements.

And thirdly, interviews are designed to do one thing: to identify the best possible candidate for the position. Some questions aim to establish how well an applicant will cope under pressure, others will be to reveal their personality or to see what their career aspirations are. But this vital part of the interview process is in danger of being lost or at best diluted with the use of video recruiting – a criticism often levied against the spate of online-only recruitment consultancies sprouting up every week at the moment. Not forgetting the lack of rapport using video as a recruiting tool.

The handshake, the interviewees attire, non-verbal communication, time management – all of these aspects of a candidate can make the difference between a good candidate and an also-ran but are difficult, nay impossible, to fully convey via a webcam (see my article on interview etiquette). No rules of engagement or improvements in technology will ever replace the personal, face-to-face interaction between employer and candidate. 

Bill Fisher, co-founder of TwitJobsearch,  suggests that video interviews [which are costly and time-consuming] “could easily replace these first screening interviews.” Yes, personnel departments are under extreme pressure to streamline their recruitment processes in a bid to reduce costs but, I believe that the use of video should not be considered as a cost-saver and instead should be valued as a tool to determine who makes the grade during the latter stages of the recruitment process when the stakes are higher for both candidate and employer alike i.e. second, third, and group interviews only.

It may be a cliché but it’s true, employees are an organisation’s most valuable asset and with recruitment costs showing very little sign of abating it is crucial that employers recruit the person who will be the best fit for their business both in terms of capability and how well they integrate into the company. This combined with the harsh lessons learned during the recent recession on the value of retaining key talent, nullify the argument in favour of video recruiting – in the initial, pre-screening stages that is. 

While social recruiting is here to stay the right hiring managers should only adopt the media that best fits the circumstance. Many people are camera shy let alone video shy and it may be some time before we see video recruiting reaching the main stream. But in the early stages of its adoption, I feel video could play a role in replacing the traditional telephone interview but I remain unconvinced of its potential to supersede face-to-face interviews.

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About yourcareermatters
CareerMatters was founded as part of MacKenzie-Cummins Communications in 2006 by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins MICG (Member Institute of Careers Guidance), regarded as one of the UK's leading career's advice and guidance writers and specialist PR consultant for the UK recruitment industry. Since 2006 Paul has been the leading advice writer for Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com - the two biggest careers website in the world -tackling all aspects of workplace and management issues, job seeking, career change and hiring trends. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 his writing contributed to Monster winning the Best Employment Advice on the Internet Award for an unprecedented three times beating the likes of The Guardian, Learn Direct and Personnel Today on each occasion. And his work was a runner-up for the same award in 2009. In 2009 Paul was a nominee in the prestigious HR Journalist of the Year Award and Recruitment, Retention & Motivation Journalist of the Year Award. Paul has been commissioned to write more than 500 careers advice and guidance articles for a number of lpublications, from regional and national newspapers to industry publications and various career-specific websites in the UK and USA. Recently, Paul was the Technical Editor for career psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's Job Hunting & Career Change for Dummies (John Wiley & Son, 2007). Dr Yeung is better known as the TV psychologist for Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Who Would Hire You? series. Clients include: Monster.com CareerBuilder.com MSN Careers (Europe) TheLadders TotalJobs SalesTarget.co.uk IntaPeople Recruitment Lifetracks/YouthNET MediaSalesJobs The Press Gazette

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