The Future of Live Video Interviews for Recruitment

How recruiters can take full advantage of live video interviews.

By Thomas Cottereau, SightCall November 1, 2014

1114-Cover.gifSeveral years ago, recruiters who wanted to conduct live video interviews had to ship a webcam to an applicant. Although this seemed costly and inconvenient, it was still less expensive than having the candidate fly in to meet in person. Video interview vendors charged $100 to $200 per interview, which restricted the technology’s use to high-level positions.

Nowadays, the cost of conducting live video interviews has dropped significantly due to the rising adoption of the cloud, the commoditization of built-in cameras and other competitive pressures. For candidates applying for distant jobs, live video can be used throughout the recruiting process. For local candidates, however, it is mainly used at three stages:

  • Prescreening interviews.
  • In-person interviews in which a recruiter may invite a remotely located colleague or colleagues to participate.
  • Follow-up calls to negotiate the terms of employment.

In 2013, 32 percent of organizations participating in Aberdeen Group’s talent acquisition research said they were investing in video interviewing—a 52 percent increase compared to 2012. According to this survey, “live video interviewing” was seen by 68 percent of the respondents as a key HR capability, far ahead of “recording live interviews,” which ranked second with 19 percent.

Although these numbers tell us that HR professionals value interviewing candidates with live video, it should not mask the roadblocks that both parties may encounter when using this approach.

Poor video quality or a lack of integration can transform a simple interview into an unbearable experience. To help avoid common pitfalls when choosing a live video solution, here are five requirements to look for.

1. Live Video Should Accurately Emulate an In-Person Interview

During an in-person interview, the recruiter and the candidate engage in a conversation wherein both verbal and nonverbal communication nurtures each person’s impressions. Facial expressions are important to correctly interpret the meaning of what is said, and experiencing this interaction is a key factor in making well-informed hiring decisions.

In a remote interview, only a live video can capture these nuances to emulate the richness of an in-person interaction. However, many live video solutions fall short of delivering on this promise. Dropped calls and poor audio or video quality are common complaints.

Many factors can damage the quality of the communication, including:

  • A poor Internet connection.
  • A distance of thousands of miles between participants.
  • A large number of participants on the call.
  • Camera hardware that produces poor video quality.

Poor camera hardware is less common nowadays due to continuing improvements in devices. In fact, live video solutions that rely on a robust and scalable cloud video platform can efficiently optimize quality in even the toughest conditions (3G network connectivity, long-distance calls, dozens of participants).

Best-in-class live video solutions sit on carrier-grade networks with dedicated private Internet links and guaranteed bandwidth. Real-time video platforms are globally distributed, and group video is enabled by multipoint control units (as opposed to mesh networks that can’t control quality).

These technology components create a solid foundation for satisfying live video experiences for both recruiters and candidates. Although recruiters cannot address the video components that their candidates have, they will want to select providers with solutions built on a solid platform.

Before buying, make sure that the live video solution:
  • Guarantees a minimum of 25 to 30 frames per second.
  • Offers HD video up to 720 pixels.
  • Consumes between 100 and 250 Kbps of bandwidth for a one-to-one video call and no more than 500 Kbps of bandwidth for a group video call with six participants.
  • Has an auto-adaptive mechanism to adjust the resolution to the environment; in other words, it should reduce the number of frames per second when bandwidth is low.

2. Live Video Calls Should Be Established in a Few Seconds

The main reason a phone call is still the go-to choice for most recruiters during prescreening is because it takes only a few seconds to get the interview started. At this stage, recruiters can’t afford to lose time waiting for candidates to download an app, create an account or log in to a service. They will not change their habits if they can’t be connected as quickly as they could with a phone call.

Thankfully, an emerging technology called WebRTC enables recruiters to establish a video chat directly from Web browsers—Chrome, Firefox and Opera as of August 2014—without requiring any download. (For more information, go to WebRTC makes live video calls as frictionless as phone calls. First, the recruiter clicks the “start an interview” button in the app, and an e-mail invitation containing a link is sent automatically to the candidate. The candidate clicks on the link and then, without a need for a download, is connected via live video within a webpage. The interview can start immediately.

Before buying, make sure that the live video solution:
  • Allows participants to join a live video call without any download (based on WebRTC).
  • Allows candidates to join the live video call without having to create a user account or log in to a service.

3. Live Video Should Empower Real-Time Collaboration

Beyond the benefits associated with face-to-face communication, live video can enable a more collaborative process that aligns with best recruiting practices. Choosing the right candidate often involves several individuals; some of them may be remotely located.

Such team-interviewing requirements may result in an exhausting series of interviews from a candidate’s perspective. Meanwhile, hiring managers want to give everyone involved in the recruiting process the opportunity to provide an informed opinion. Hence, a panel interview format has become a popular way to make the process leaner and more efficient. Live video solutions that support group video calls make this format easy to organize.

Taking this a step further, I strongly recommend that recruiters look at solutions that offer real-time capabilities such as screen sharing. It is a great feature for emphasizing an achievement listed in the resume. For example, a UX designer candidate can showcase his or her previous design projects by sharing a screen.

The bottom line is that such real-time collaboration is saving time.

Before buying, make sure that the live video solution:
  • Allows recruiters to organize group video interviews.
  • Allows recruiters and candidates to share their screens.

4. Live Video Should Be Enterprise-Grade

Let’s discuss why recruiters should use enterprise-grade live video solutions rather than a consumer-grade video chat app. Many live video solutions being sold to recruiters as a nonconsumer-grade solution are not enterprise-grade either, since they may lack the following key elements:

  • Secure communications.
  • User management.
  • Network compatibility.
  • High-definition and fluid video.

Security applied to live video means that the privacy of the communication session must be protected with encryption standards such as 256-bit AES. Proprietary encryption methods, such as the one used by Skype, do not guarantee that the communication will be kept private.

User management is all about knowing and managing those authorized to use and access the service (entirely or partially). Recruiters or other administrators of the service should be able to monitorw usage analytics.

The connection type, whether enterprise or residential, is important and can be LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, xDSL or VPN without any specific configuration. Which network will the candidate connect from? Will my live video solution be compatible with this network? Enterprise-grade solutions are compatible with all of these networks.

Before buying, make sure that the live video solution:
  • Ensures secure communications with encryption standards.
  • Offers user management capabilities.
  • Works on any network.

5. Live Video Should Be Integrated into a Recruiter’s Workflow

Sourcing, screening, interviewing, assessing and managing candidates makes recruitment complex. Thankfully, software that consolidates these capabilities can make recruiters’ jobs much easier. Today, most adopted applications for recruiting are either stand-alone applicant tracking systems (ATSs) or talent management (TM) suites.

As reported by Aberdeen Group in April 2013, hiring managers wish to avoid creating new silos that result from using stand-alone live video solutions: “Organizations are seeking a single provider to support all of their video needs. Organizations are even including video interviewing as a key requirement in ATS.” This leaves ATS and TM software providers with two options to satisfy recruiters’ needs—either integrate their application with existing stand-alone video solutions or provide a live video feature that is natively embedded in their application.

Cornerstone went for the first option when it announced at its 2013 annual conference a partnership with HireVue, a stand-alone video recruiting solution, to provide video interview capabilities into Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud. Software providers that prefer to keep the live video feature under their own brand may give priority to the second approach. The challenge with this is that live video is not an easy feature to build from the ground up. A highly skilled staff is required to deploy and manage an infrastructure specifically designed to support it. Furthermore, the infrastructure needs to be globally distributed since recruiters may want to interview candidates located on the other side of the planet.

Fortunately, cloud video platform providers such as SightCall take on the hard job of managing this infrastructure. By leveraging those platforms, software providers can embed live video into their application in less than a day, while having total control over the user experience. For recruiters, this means live video interviewing is only a click away from the application they use every day. They can schedule and launch a live video interview without having to log in to a separate application.

Before buying, make sure that the live video solution:
  • Is embedded into ATS or TM applications that recruiters use to manage recruitment activities.
  • Allows recruiters to schedule a video interview and send invitations directly from this application.
  • Allows recruiters to start a video interview with a single click directly from this application.

The Future Is Almost Here

Live video is poised to become a standard practice for prescreening interviews. Its adoption will be driven by how it is delivered. Human resource teams never really embraced legacy hardware videoconferencing systems as a convenient option, and, while consumer-grade video chat has had its moments, recruiters have come to realize that it is not suitable for professional use.

At SightCall, we think that the future of live video is to be ubiquitous and accessible from the applications recruiters use every day. Many analysts foresee a similar transformation, as predicted by Jim Lundy, lead analyst at Aragon Research, in an article published in June 2013: “By year-end 2015, most recruiting solutions will include video.”

Thomas Cottereau co-founded SightCall in 2008 with a desire to make video communication more natural and transformative. He has held leadership positions in engineering, marketing and business development. He has directly managed large turnkey telecom projects at UUNET, MCI Worldcom and Bouygues Telecom. Before 2008, he spent five years growing Niji, a technology consulting firm in France specializing in digital convergence. He holds a Master of Science in engineering from TELECOM Lille1 Ecole D’Ingenieurs. He can be reached at


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