Video Interview Information

I've had to do lots of video interviews whilst applying for jobs, and I thought I'd share my experiences.

An introduction to video interviews

Video interviews are simply employee selection interviews that are conducted online via video software, instead of face-to-face or over the phone. Almost always, video interviews are conducted with the aid of a desktop or laptop computer, as mobile devices can make video interviewing difficult. Video interviews are almost always conducted while the candidate is at home, so you should make sure you will not be distracted while you’re being recorded.

Video interviews serve as a half-way house between telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews, offering many advantages of both. Video interviews benefit from the flexibility offered by telephone interviews, allowing candidates to participate from their own homes and in their own time. They also provide a richer interview experience, allowing interviewers to gauge a candidate’s social cues in much the same way as face-to-face interviews. By combining this flexibility with a richer communication medium, video interviews provide employers with a meaningful alternative to face-to-face interviewing.

Video interviews tend to be conducted during the early stages of the recruitment process, usually following a basic eligibility screen. If the candidate meets the entry requirements, short-listed candidates may then be invited to complete a video interview. Alternatively, candidates may be required to complete a range of psychometric assessments either before or after a video interview, adding a further stage to the selection process. In either case, video interviewing is likely to replace telephone interviewing, when selecting the high potential candidates to be interviewed in person.

As a method of assessment, video interviewing presents several interesting advantages, with seemingly few disadvantages. Their flexibility and effectiveness make video interviews a major development in the world of online assessment, one that employing organizations should strongly consider.

Live vs pre-recorded interviews

Two major versions of video interviewing software exist, each with distinct implications for candidate assessment. These two formats include:

  • Live video interviewing: In a live video interview, both the interviewer and the interviewee participate simultaneously, in the same way that telephone or face-to-face interviews are conducted. Any video conferencing software can be used to facilitate a live video interview, including Skype or Facetime.
  • Pre-recorded interviewing: In a pre-recorded video interview, interviewees are asked questions automatically, and provide pre-recorded responses to interview questions in their own time. The “Interviewer”, reviews these recordings and makes selection decisions at their leisure. Specialist video interviewing software is required for this video interview format.

Both assessment modalities have their relative advantages and disadvantages, and employers will usually think long and hard about which format best suits their needs.

Advantages of live video interviewing:

  • Freeware can be used to facilitate a live video interview, without the need for any premium software.
  • Interviewers interact with their interviewees in real time, allowing interviewers to ask probing questions and follow-up questions.
  • Live video interviewing can feel more natural to some candidates, better approximating the interview format they are used to.

Advantages of pre-recorded interviewing:

  • Pre-recording affords greater flexibility to candidates and interviewers, allowing both parties to participate at their leisure.
  • Interviewers only need to review candidate responses to questions, meaning only around 10-15 minutes of content needs to be watched.
  • Each candidate is asked the exact same questions in the exact same format, ensuring maximum repeatability.

Generally speaking, interviewers tend to use live video interviewing for ad-hoc recruiting and lower volume sifting. Pre-recorded interviewing however, is typically used as part of a wider strategy, and is more commonly used in high volume, early stage sifting.

Why do employers use video interviewing?

To employers, many (but not all) of the advantages video interviews offer are obvious, but candidates are likely less aware of how video interviews benefit employers. Here are some of the reasons why employers are adopting video interviews, and why they are replacing telephone and face-to-face interviewing:

  • Ease of access: Because video interviews are conducted online, interviewers need not book meeting rooms or make travel arrangements. Employers simply need to arrange a mutually agreeable time and conduct the interview over the internet. Moreover, if interviews are pre-recorded, interviewers can review candidates at any time that suits them, freeing up their schedules considerably.
  • Fairness: Naturally, inviting candidates to face-to-face interviews represents a considerable time-investment for candidates, especially if they are busy or live far away. Video interviewing ensures that all candidates are given equal opportunity to participate, regardless of how busy or distant they may be.
  • Replicability (pre-recorded): Because every candidate gets the same questions, and they are all asked these questions in the exact same way, confounding variables can be eliminated. Situations where certain candidates are given hard questions, fewer probing questions, or are simply given a harder time by interviewers can be avoided, keeping the process consistent and thus reliable.
  • Time saving (pre-recorded): Pre-recorded interviews save enormous amounts of time for interviewers. Interviewers just need to watch the candidate’s responses to the questions, they don’t need to ask the questions themselves. From the interviewer’s perspective, each interview only takes 10-15 minutes instead of the usual 30-45 minutes. This allows interviewers to sift candidates at a much faster rate than with live-interviewing (across any format).
  • Recordable: With both formats of video interview, the interviews themselves can be recorded for later analysis. This allows interviewers to re-visit the interview, picking up on elements which they may have missed the first time around. Similarly, it allows outside assessors to evaluate the candidate’s performance, improving the quality of selection decisions.
  • Media richness: Compared to telephone interviews, video interviews offer a far richer source of information about candidates. Body language, social cues, and personal idiosyncrasies can be more easily interpreted through a video interview, avoiding misinterpretation by interviewers.

Overall, employing organisations can benefit significantly from adopting video interviews, which can solve many of the problems associated with both telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews.