Spontaneous and automated: online video interviews are set to revolutionise the recruitment process

As with the beginning of every year, gurus across the globe have gazed into their crystal balls to offer their predictions of how the world will change during the coming twelve months. Much of what is shared is thought-provoking and no doubt a good many of their predictions will come to pass.

There is no shortage of seers to forecast what lies ahead for HR professionals. These face the challenge of providing their organisations with the raw talent and leadership qualities they need to succeed at a time when technology and globalisation are changing the world in ways that most of us are not even beginning to understand. At a time when whole countries and industries may - or may not - be emerging from recession and corporate budgets continue to be squeezed, HR directors are in turn feeling the pinch.

They could also be forgiven for feeling defensive: their teams are all too frequently perceived as mere cost centres, a drain on increasingly-scarce organisational resources, ignorant of core business whilst introducing time-consuming compliance initiatives or performance appraisal systems better known to the initiated as the annual box-ticking exercise. Increasingly, however, technological developments are offering HR significant opportunities to automate many time-intensive but essential activities. Harnessed effectively, this gives HR the exciting prospect of being in a position to focus its resources on value-added talent acquisition and management programmes which contribute directly to business strategy and the bottom line.

Let’s take a look at one of the next generation HR tools: the automated video interview. You may think you know what this is. In reality, the chances are that you don’t. It’s not about Skype and it’s not about video CV. No: with automated video interviewing, your applicants record a spontaneous video interview, at the time and place of their choosing. Their answers will leave you either wanting to learn more through a face-to-face interview or glad that you haven’t wasted your time or theirs in meeting! Automated video interviews eliminate the need to synchronise your diaries or for either party to travel. With a well-structured video interview, the recruiter can tell within minutes whether they wish to invest any more time in a particular candidate. According to some estimates, the tool reduces time invested in the first stages of recruitment by as much as 80%. 

Companies offering automated video interview solutions have been springing up for some years, primarily in the US.  The costs were at first high, the process elaborate, often including the cost of providing candidates with a webcam in order to record their interview. But now, as internet connectivity increases exponentially year-on-year, built-in webcams are a standard feature on most computers and mobile devices, and with ever-higher ownership levels of these devices, automated video interviewing is certain to become a component of every employer’s recruitment toolkit. Venture capital firms and other canny investors are starting to take note.

So how does it work? Companies identify a role to be filled. The interviewer develops a structured set of questions and selects a maximum amount of time to answer each question. The position is advertised through the employer’s existing recruitment channels, applicants submit their application, and are then invited to record a video interview.  Such invitations can be extended before or after an initial screening exercise and may even replace the first round of the interview process altogether. The candidate is given a deadline by which to record their interview; with no advance notice of the questions, their answers are spontaneous and unrehearsed; the recording cannot be paused, reviewed or re-recorded. Once the interview is complete, the recruiter receives a notification email and can then view the recording (also at the time and place of their choosing), make comments and share the interview with colleagues, and speeding up the decision-making process. The tool is being used for positions from the most junior up to middle management, and is particularly useful for internship or graduate recruitment programmes and those positions which typically attract high volumes of applicants, many of whom who may not be in a position to travel easily to interview .

Clearer now? The benefits are enormous! For employers, the efficiencies are obvious: reduced screening times, elimination of travel expenses or costly recruitment fairs, and faster time to hire. In addition, a process that ensures that every applicant is asked the same questions and given the same amount of time to respond makes it both fairer and easier to demonstrate non-discriminatory recruitment practices. Subscription-activated, there is no requirement for complex IT implementation and recruiters are charged per interview recorded rather than invitation extended. More exciting perhaps are the qualitative benefits: faster screening times allow for access to a broader talent pool; candidates, particularly younger applicants with little or no work experience, have a chance to demonstrate that they really do possess the presentation or language skills that they claim on their CV. And if perception is (as some say) reality, the employer’s brand is present throughout the interview process, positioning it as innovative and forward-thinking to applicants who may also be existing or potential customers. Finally, a thoughtfully-structured interview and a well-communicated guidance process will put the interviewees at ease and ensure they deliver a good interview. A typical candidate will be nervous at the outset, but fully at ease by the close.    

So what are you waiting for? Join the recruitment revolution!

About the author: Eleanor Hammond is Communications Director for Video Recruit, an innovative, Prague-based technology firm offering automated online video interviewing to increase the speed and quality of recruitment.

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