Where’s the “Interview” in Video Interviewing?

The WorkPlace Group® is very familiar with the process of video interviewing as many of our clients have used it during their hiring process.  Typically, when we hear the phrase “video interviewing” we think of a dialogue between two people through two computer screens, similar to talking to someone through Skype. If Skype or another application is being used like Apple’s Facetime — there are several options, some designed specifically for recruitment — then a two-way, live interview is occurring.  We might also refer to these interview methods as web-based or mobile-based interviews.

However, more often than not, video interviewing platforms are being used to record candidates’ responses to a preset list of questions prior to the recruiter or hiring manager inviting the candidate to a face-to-face employment interview, whether that means in-person or via the web or mobile device.  As a result, what is often labeled “video interviewing” is in reality “video capturing.”

Video Interviewing or Video Capture?

When employers use video interviewing during the job application and recruitment process– for example when the candidate applies to a job or after reviewing candidates’ resumes or job applications– we are typically talking about video capturing. To do this, the employer sends a link to the candidate’s email, which, when clicked, presents a series of questions to the candidate’s computer screen. Depending on the configuration, the candidate may be able to scroll through all of the questions before responding or may be required to respond to the first question before seeing the next.  Candidates record their responses using the camera and microphone on their PC. Candidates must have a camera and microphone connected to their computer as well as an internet connection in order to record their responses.  Most providers of this technology will send a webcam to candidates who do not have a camera installed on their computer.  Candidates will then return the webcam to the provider once they have completed the interview.  Some providers of this technology also offer a mobile option.  This allows candidates to use their mobile device like a smartphone or iPad to complete the interview.

In an actual employment interview, whether in-person or over the web through video interviewing, there is a real person on the other end and a dialogue occurs in real time with questions, prompts and responses. With video capture the candidates respond to questions presented on their screen or via audio files pre-recorded by the recruiter or hiring manager. They are then given a finite time to record their response; typically, 90 seconds, but can be longer or shorter.

What Makes Video Capturing Different from Video Interviewing?

The employment interview is a specific type of data gathering methodology that contributes to a high-stake decision: hire or not hire.

The definition of an interview, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a formal consultation usually to evaluate qualifications,” and “a meeting at which information is obtained from a person.” What if the person collecting the information is not present during the interview?  Is it still an employment interview? Does an employment interview need to consist of at least two individuals interacting with each other, with at least one asking questions of the other? The scientific research on employment interviews suggests this is the case.  An employment interview involves a meeting between the employer and the candidate to review the candidate’s qualifications and can take many different forms: structured vs. unstructured; behavioral vs. situational vs. competency or some combination of all.

What if the method of collecting information from the job candidate is a one-way, or asynchronous, exchange of information, as in the case of video capturing? What if the interviewer is not present and the candidate is simply recording responses to a pre-set list of questions?  Would we still call this an employment interview?  Does this sound more like an employment test?

It remains to be seen whether candidates perceive video capture to be more like an employment test than an employment interview.  Either way, this is not necessarily negative.  Well-crafted employment tests have proven to be strong predictors of subsequent job performance.  However, employment tests have been subject to far more class action litigation regarding inappropriate hiring practices than employment interviews.  Thus employers need to use this technology with the same rigor, structure and consistency as a well-crafted employment test or structured employment interview.

Major differences between Video Interviewing and Video Capturing

Whereas a video interview is a virtual face-to-face employment interview, video capture is more like a survey that records not only what you say but how you say it and what you look like when you say it.  As such, it is important to note that video capture lacks a number of elements that a live interview entails. With video capture there are no follow-up questions or prompts to explore a candidate’s answers in more detail.  There is no opportunity for the candidate to ask for clarification as to what a question might mean.

In reviewing candidates’ responses in a video capture environment, recruiters and hiring managers often have the ability to randomly advance through candidates’ responses.  The entire response does not have to be reviewed.  Hiring Managers and recruiters also often have the ability to skip through and randomly select the questions they want to listen to.  Although listening to sound bites as oppose to candidates’ entire response to questions can save labor hours, employers should avoid haphazardly doing these things as it will likely lead to poor hiring decisions and potentially adverse impact.

How is Video Capture Typically Used?

Although video interviewing technology has been around for several years, it’s still in its infancy and employers are experimenting with the use of this technology. 

Video capture is most often used as a first-level screening tool.  By listening to and viewing how candidates respond to questions, recruiters and hiring managers can filter out candidates from advancing to an employment interview.  Employers who have experimented with a video capturing step in their recruitment process more often do so with entry level, high volume positions.  In general, job candidates with little to no work experience are more accepting and willing to participate in a hiring process that includes a video capture step than experienced professionals.  Since video capturing closely resembles an employment test, there can be considerable costs for validating the questions to be asked and the way in which responses will be evaluated.  At least this is what employers should do to take full advantage of these systems and maintain compliance with fair hiring practices.

The WorkPlace Group®’s Advice to Employers

As is true of all technology designed to enable aspects of the recruitment process, the methodology of how the technology is to be used and the intelligence that is loaded into system makes all the difference in the accuracy of the employment decisions it helps us make.  In absence of methodology and intelligence, the technology is like having a navigation system without an uploaded road map.  Without knowledge of highways and where they lead, the navigation system can’t get you to your desired destination.

To best take advantage of this technology, employers need to ensure that the questions asked in the interview are job related.  Employers also need to develop an evaluation or scoring key and train recruiters and hiring managers on how to make accurate and fair employment decisions based on what candidates say and do during these video captures.  Employers are well advised, if they don’t have an expert on staff, to work with an Industrial / Organizational psychologist to ensure the content loaded into the system has been validated and those using the system do so correctly and in line with good hiring practices.

For more information about using video interviewing and video capture in your recruitment, selection and hiring process, please contact a WorkPlace Group® associate.

Please read Increased Availability of Pre-Employment Assessments Increases Employer Responsibility for more information on the value of validating candidate assessments.

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