Video interviewing – sustainable trend or passing fad?

This article originally appeared on Ri5.co.uk

The last few years have seen a strange mismatch taking place in our industry.  The pace of innovation in recruitment technology has never been quicker but, against a background of continuing economic uncertainty, the pace of adoption of new approaches and technologies from employers has arguably never been slower.  Unless an innovation can prove that it will provide quick and lasting value, its chances of mass adoption are limited.

With this in mind, my company Metashift recently embarked on a three-month research project into the emerging world of video interviewing technologies.  I was keen to find out whether this was an important trend or yet another faddish false start in the evolution of the recruitment process.

It became clear very early on in our research that different employers have different definitions of what ‘video interviewing’ is, and this is potentially causing a lot of confusion when its impact in the marketplace is being discussed.

For some employers, it means holding a standard face-to-face interview via a readily available video platform such as Skype.  For others, it actually means candidates coming into their offices to have an interview via video conference with another office location.  While these approaches are very much on the rise, the biggest noise in the industry is being made by providers of so-called ‘asynchronous’ video interviewing, and this what our research focused on.

Asynchronous video interviewing (or ‘on demand’ video interviewing as it’s also known) allows the candidate to video himself or herself answering a list of recruiter-provided questions at a time that suits them.  From a recruiter’s point of view, they can watch, review and assess the videos whenever and however many times they want and share them internally.  This typically occurs early on in the hiring cycle, and recorded video interviews are often used as an alternative to telephone screening or first-round interviews.

As part of the research, as well as performing an in-depth audit of the technology and providers available, we spoke to a large number of employers to see who was using this type of technology and how it was working for them.  We were also keen to know what was stopping employers who weren’t yet using it from taking the plunge.

The results were very interesting.  Of those companies not using this technology, 80% said they were considering it and a significant proportion were looking at doing a pilot project during 2013.  That said, there was still a lack of comfort round the technology, with key objections including internal buy-in, potential discrimination issues, problems with connectivity and a potential negative impact on employment brand due to perceived automation from a candidate perspective.

Interestingly though, without exception, the employers we spoke to who were already using the technology only had positive things to say about their experience.  While things didn’t always go completely smoothly, the feeling was that most of the problems they had prepared themselves to face when implementing the technology simply hadn’t happened.

The reaction from candidates was also generally very positive, and a number of employers felt using video in this way enhanced their brands as thought leading companies.  In fact there was a feeling that, in certain markets, candidates would expect companies to be recruiting in this way, and there might be a negative brand impact if they weren’t.

I have to say that I was quite surprised by just how positive the feedback was.  When we started the research we were very keen to get as balanced a view as possible, and were actively looking for examples of implementations that hadn’t lived up to the hype.  These were very difficult to find and in many cases, rather than causing problems, video interviewing had actually brought additional advantages the employer wasn’t expecting.

Based on the research we did it is pretty clear that ‘on demand’ video interviewing is absolutely here to stay, and it is almost inevitable that it will become a mainstream activity in many market sectors.  The speed of adoption, though, is very much up for debate.

While there are some employers who are enthusiastic evangelists, the technology is still very much at the early-adopter stage.  Large-scale corporate implementations aren’t easy, and the importance of stakeholder management and careful process integration were themes that came up time and time again in our discussions with employers already using the systems.

The provider market in this area is booming at the moment with an ever-growing number of companies offering these kinds of services (we found twenty and there are probably many more!).  The future is undoubtedly bright, but I wonder just how many providers the market will be able to sustain in the long term!

●  Metashift’s Video Interviewing Guide is available now, featuring a detailed review of employer attitudes, analysis of key benefits and potential drawbacks, a buyers’ guide including profiles of seven key suppliers, and a huge amount of advice on how to implement video interviewing successfully.  Click here to find out more.