Written by:
Iain Blair

Is video interviewing the death of the CV?

Anybody who’s ever worked with us will know that we’re big advocates of video interviewing. It allows us to gain key insights on candidates in quick-time, getting an immediate feel for how good a fit they are for our clients.

However, like all new practices, it’s easy to get video interviewing wrong. If you’re not well-versed in the technique, there’s a risk that you may wave goodbye to the best person for the job or give a really bad impression.

On paper, video interviewing would appear fairly straightforward – it’s the same as conducting a face-to-face interview, except for it being done via a webcam. Yet, some agencies and companies manage to get it very wrong indeed, either because they’re overstretched, under-prepared, or both.

A good place to start on video interviewing, then, are some absolute must-never dos:

1. Let a computer do the questioning

Forbes’ contributor Liz Ryan calls one-way interviews an “abomination”, and we’re inclined to agree with her for specialist or more senior positions. We’re talking about the “interviews” which involve the candidate looking into a camera and answering questions put to them by a computer.

Firstly, it can prove to be a pretty demeaning and unfulfilling experience for the applicant, which doesn’t exactly reflect too well on the employer themselves. It also asks them to answer questions without context or background – essential for applicants to be able to give satisfactory answers.

However, if done right, one-way video interviewing will enrich your recruiting effort in certain circumstances. It’s perfect for interviewing graduates, where you are looking for personality rather than experience. It’s also great for high-volume campaigns where there are large numbers of candidates to assess.

2. Mess up the technology

A video interview is only as good as the technology behind it. If the technology fails, you risk being left with a patchy interview at best – at worse, you may have to do it all again at another time. While you might tell the candidate you won’t make a judgement about them, they might have already made their mind up about you.

Writing in Forbes, business leader and author Carol Kinsey Goman advises candidates to do a “dry run” before conducting an interview, testing the clarity and sound of the video – but the advice could easily apply to employers.

Regardless which side of the camera you’re on, you need to make sure that technology doesn’t act as a barrier to a seamless video interview.

3. Insist on a video interview

People have a right to refuse to do a video interview. In the past, we’ve had candidates suggest that they don’t feel like they would do themselves justice in front of a camera, and that’s fair enough. If they’re a good candidate, offer an alternative that will allow them to present the best of themselves.

However, successful recruitment relies on collaboration. By capturing our probing questions and the applicants’ answers on video, we can easily share candidates with our clients, helping them get validation on which ones should be advanced in their hiring process.

It will also improve the quality of in-person interviews, having got to know the candidates on a personal level prior to meeting them in person.

To make candidates feel more comfortable in front of the camera, video interview software provider Spark Hire suggests encouraging them to record a practice interview before the actual video response is due. Or, if they are especially nervous, consider inviting them into the office to record. That way you’re still capturing their answers and doing all you can to create a platform for them to show their best side.

The good news is that the video interviewing technology is starting to catch up with the theory. Solutions like Sonru, LaunchPad and Spark Hire are making the technique much more straightforward for one-way interviewing and there are some platforms appearing for face to face, like Hinterview.

Our video interviewing couldn’t be easier. Our candidates just click on a link from their laptops or phone and voila! Our process involves us recording segments of the interview, as opposed to the whole thing, so we can deliver just the answers to the ‘killer questions’ – along with CVs and interview notes. That way we can give our clients insight into the candidates, without making them feel like they’ve got to give up loads of their time to get it.


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