The truth is that pre-recorded video interviews seem unnatural. Talking into a camera is nothing like speaking to a person and many first-time interviewees get self-conscious when seeing themselves speak. The easy conclusion to jump to is that video interviews are not a good recruitment tool. But since a good craftsman never blames his tools, the more accurate conclusion to draw, is that video interviews, like any other tools, have to be used in the correct way and for an appropriate purpose. When used correctly, video interviews can truly work in the candidates’ best interests and they can improve the candidate experience. In this post, I will explain how pre-recorded interviews can benefit the candidate and what it takes to make this happen.
In the candidate’s best interest
Let’s look first at what pre-recorded video interviews do. The candidate receives a link, opens it in a browser, and see a series of (video) questions to which he/she is asked to record an answer. This means that recruiters can see the person behind the CV, understand better what drives this candidate and get the answers to a few key questions. For the candidates, they have hit the motherlode!
Sure, it can be awkward at first to talk to themselves on camera. But so was describing themselves, their motivation, and their interest in the job in only 3 paragraphs, the first time around. By now, they are probably used to writing a motivation letter, but, with some practice, they’ll get used to recording videos too. And how much more can video add!? Imagine that instead of 3 paragraphs, they have 3 minutes to answer 3 questions. That is the equivalent of 9 paragraphs of content, but, unlike the written text, they can now show the recruiter who they really are. They can use their voice, their facial expressions and their body language to stand out from all the other “ambitious, hard-working, goal oriented and slightly perfectionistic” candidates.
Video interviews, when used in the beginning of the process, can bring the written application to life. They give candidates the opportunity to showcase themselves and make a great first impression, which most of them, who get rejected based on the written application, rarely get.
What it takes to make this happen
We can clearly see that video interviews benefit the candidate. Nevertheless, some candidates are frustrated by the process. In my experience, this has more to do with bad expectations management and unthoughtful use of video recruitment tools, than with the discomfort associated with recording oneself.
Some candidates indicate that they dislike video interviews because they would prefer to have an on-site face to face interview. The misconception here is that, had there not been any video interviews, they would have met the hiring manager or the recruiter instead. However, in most cases, video interviews are used as screening methods, placed somewhere between the written application and the phone interview. Pre-recorded video interviews do not replace face to face interviews, they simply introduce the candidate to the recruiter sooner.
This might be clear for the recruiter, but it’s certainly not clear to all the candidates.
So, in order to improve candidate experience, recruiters should explain the role of the video interviews. Those companies that do, see a 90% conversion rate and 98% satisfaction in candidate experience.
A personalized approach
In addition, pre-recorded video interviews allow companies to present themselves to the candidates in a more personal manner. The point of supporting welcome messages and customized video questions is to allow hiring managers to introduce their team and their company, to explain the process, and to ask the questions. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to personalize the interview templates. If the candidate sees a generic video about the company and has to reply with video recordings to text questions on the screen, the process can quickly become one-sided and less personal. In contrast, if the candidate sees the hiring manager introducing himself and walking the candidate through the process, explaining what kind of person they are interested in adding to their team, and then goes on to see that same person, or another team member, asking the interview questions, the candidate will feel much more engaged from the start.
If this happens in the beginning of the process, the role becomes more real to the candidate, who, in turn, will be more invested into the process. So, I would strongly encourage those of you who are using video interviews to take the time to record videos of your team, as this adds value for the candidate.
All in all, video interviews are not just a time-saving tool for recruiters, but a powerful solution for both the candidates and the potential employer to introduce themselves to one another from the very beginning. What this requires is personalization, thoughtful placement of video interviews in the recruitment process and excellent communication with the candidates.