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Why phone interviews don’t (always) work

Working in the HR software space for the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of having great clients in the talent acquisition space. Regardless of whether they came from the public or private sector, were part of a multinational company or a small local team, or were internal recruiters vs. agency, they all had the same challenge: determining good talent at the earliest points of the recruitment process.

The process was usually as follows:

  1. Candidate applies through Applicant Tracking System, which acts as the first filter based on keywords in the CV.
  2. Remaining candidates are scheduled for a 30-minute phone interview with recruiter.
  3. Those that perform well on the phone are then invited in for an assessment center, a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager or both.

This process required minimal time commitment at the earliest stage and with each subsequent step, a bigger investment. Naturally all recruiters were highly motivated to perfect the first two steps to limit poor candidates making it into their office. Unfortunately the middle step of this process was not always great in deciphering good candidates and still required a lot of the recruiters’ valuable time. When really considering why it didn’t work, these were the reasons:

  1. Body language- our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice—can be the loudest form of communication. Without these visual cues, we are really missing a lot of what a candidate is ‘saying’
  2. Unfortunately, not all candidates are honest. I’ve been told quite often that there seems to be a discrepancy with who is interviewed on the phone vs. who shows up in the office. Not being able to see the candidate gives them the opportunity to have notes, use the internet or even worse, have an educated friend answer their questions for them.
  3. The hiring manager has a different idea of who the perfect candidate is. In some cases, the ideal candidate for the role will differ from person to person, in this case the recruiter and hiring manager. The hiring manager needs to work with the candidate and has a good understanding of what it takes for them to be successful. Having their input only at the last (and most time consuming) step, when they could have easily determined a ‘good’ or ‘bad candidate in the early process, makes the process inefficient. Unfortunately the hiring managers time is limited as it is, so how do we get them involved at the beginning?

Video interviewing is the solution. An automated video interview will allow a candidate to record their responses on their own time and allow both the recruiter and hiring manager to review them on theirs. Body language can be viewed, candidates must present themselves no differently than if they were in the office and hiring managers can spend just a few minutes to review candidates before inviting them in. The process is efficient, fair, collaborative and offers far more insights than a phone interview ever could. It’s time to move past the traditional way of interviewing if we want to achieve the best results.

Happy hiring!


Infographic | Why Video Recruitment Works | Download