Digital Video Upgrades the Hiring Experience

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer May 16, 2017

​Digital video technology enables employers to attract, screen, interview and assess candidates more efficiently and with more certainty, experts and users say.

Talent acquisition functions should leverage the trend toward consuming and sharing online video content to expand their potential talent pools, said Lindsay Stanton, chief client officer of Digi-Me, a Chicago-area firm that turns traditional text job postings into digital video ads. "Video has an innate ability to spread online," she added. "Candidates are much more willing to engage it and find it much easier to push it out to their networks."

"Video is powerful [for attraction and branding] because it conveys much more information than text," said Maury Hanigan, founder and CEO of Sparc, a recruitment marketing and engagement firm based in New York City. "Candidates would rather hear and see and perceive information than just read it, and compelling content is necessary to attract qualified candidates in this economy of full employment."

Video works both ways—sending out information to the candidate and receiving it from candidates. Video interviews—whether recorded by the candidate or conducted via a live Skype-style exchange—allow organizations to hire talent faster in a more streamlined way, said Kevin Parker, CEO of HireVue, a digital recruiting platform based in Salt Lake City. Employers can post questions, and applicants respond with a video, allowing hiring managers to quickly weed through to find the top candidates. With a faster time-to-hire than traditional screening interview methods, employers have a better chance of landing top talent, who are often fielding several offers, he added.

Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report stated that hotel brand Hilton used video interviewing to cut its recruiting cycle from six weeks to just five days. Parker noted that athletic clothing company Under Armour cut time-to-fill at its retail stores by 35 percent once it began using video interviews.

Video interviewing also "widens the aperture of talent for companies by going beyond the physical and cost limitations of their current talent borders," Parker said. "For instance, Vodafone and Goldman Sachs are using video interviewing to reach more high-potential college graduates versus only being able to physically visit a limited number of schools for on-campus interviews. Also, video interviewing helps reach passive candidates who may take a 10-minute video interview on their own time after work, but not take time out of their workday to come in for a first-round interview or fill out a lengthy online application."

Some companies are incorporating skills and behavioral assessments powered by artificial intelligence (AI) within their video interviews, providing recruiters and hiring managers with deeper insights on candidates' skill sets and how they compare with a role's requirements and the larger candidate pool.

"Video interviews powered by AI may be better able to consistently identify promising candidates than a traditional interview," said Rahul Kukreti, co-founder of mroads, an HR technology company based in Plano, Texas. Mroads powers an intuitive, video interviewing platform.

In fact, "a consensus is emerging that traditional interviewing—subjective and unstandardized—may be an unreliable method for predicting a potential employee's success," according to Deloitte's research.

Quality is compromised, for example, when applicants for technology roles bluff their way past recruiters who have only a limited understanding of the technology they are recruiting for, Kukreti said. "Assessment features allow recruiters to ask questions and immediately see whether the candidate can produce a correct answer during the live interview session. Recruiters can pick a skill set based on hiring needs, the answers are evaluated right away, and the results are digitally stored."

Cast a Wider, More Attractive Net

Boston-based Fidelity Investments' video journey began with producing clips to promote its brand on social media. The company then piloted digital interviewing for certain roles, and it has since scaled the practice to cover most hires, and is embedding video content within job postings to increase job seeker engagement.

Trish Davis, director of talent acquisition, recruitment products and vendor relations at Fidelity, said the company's job postings were previously "typical HR lingo" and lacked character.

"It was missing the 'what's in it for the candidate.' And at a time when so much is personalized to the consumer, we recognized that we had an opportunity," she said.

Davis and her team began embedding videos of the hiring manager and co-workers talking about the role and the work environment. "We lifted the curtain so that the candidate could hear directly from the hiring team," she said. 

Hanigan shared research from Sparc that showed that people will spend at least twice as long looking at a job post with video compared to plain text ads, and will share job ads with video at least four times as often as those without.

"We all want our employee referral programs to bring us more candidates, but your employees are bored by your job posts and will not share them," Hanigan said. "When you give them interesting video, particularly if they are in the video, they will tweet it out. It's dynamic. It's clickbait. It really is dramatically different than sending somebody paragraphs of text."

Hire Faster and Surer with Video

Most adopters of video interviewing are using one-way video interviews in which candidates respond to a series of interview questions on their own time by recording video responses, eliminating the need for the traditional phone screen.

Using video interviews at the front end of the hiring funnel enables employers to reduce their cost-per-hire and shorten their time-to-fill, Kukreti said. "The intent is to get talent through the system more quickly and narrow the pool down to the best set of applicants."

Recorded interviews are the most popular type of video interview by far because of the convenience, said Josh Tolan, the founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing company based in Northbrook, Ill. "It's important to note that this is absolutely not a replacement to the in-person interview," he said. "The organizations using one-way video interviews are using them to gain more insight on candidates, improve recruiter and hiring manager collaboration, and make better decisions on which candidates advance to the next step of the hiring process."

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has removed phone screens entirely from its interview process in favor of using recorded interviews, said Nicole Torsella Harris, manager of talent acquisition and executive recruitment at the school. "This has been a major efficiency gain for us as we all know how much time phone screens take."

Global telecommunications company Vodafone found that digital interviewing is an effective solution for recruiting for its higher-volume retail and call center positions, said Catalina Schveninger, global head of resourcing and employer brand at the Newbury, United Kingdom-based company. Vodafone also moved from telephone prescreening to video interviews to hire for "attitude," she said, which can be better evaluated from a video presentation than a phone conversation.

"A resume or even a phone screen doesn't tell the full story," said Troy Barnett, former director of corporate services technology at Under Armour. "We found that after a phone screen, the person that shows up isn't the person you thought you were getting. Being able to see the candidate right away, you get a true sense of who they are and if they'll be a cultural fit."

Schveninger recommended that employers begin by picking areas to pilot video interviewing "where you face challenges in terms of time-to-hire or where candidate experience has been below par."

She also advised producing introductory video segments for the one-way interviews sent to candidates, preferably with the hiring managers in front of the camera asking questions in the working environment. "This is a great employer brand tool, and candidates will have a personalized experience and a realistic preview of the people they will work with and the type of company you are," she said.

Live-video interviews for candidates who make it further in the process are also becoming a common option for recruiters and hiring managers, especially to reach candidates who live across the country or the globe. "Some organizations are completely eliminating the need to fly people in, while others are making better decisions about which candidates they fly in," Tolan said.

Live-video interviews can be recorded to be shared and referred to later. "Since the video interviews are recorded, multiple team members can provide their input," Tolan said. "This improved collaboration ensures that a single individual isn't making the decision on cultural fit, which is really important." 

Standardized video interviews can also help prevent inherent biases in the interview process, experts said.

"Structured video interviews with standardized questions for all applicants allow reviewers to compare candidates side-by-side in an apples-to-apples comparison for each question," Parker said. "Because the ratings can be done while the video is being watched, and the video is available for multiple playbacks, video interviewing reduces the potential negative impact of memory, which can be clouded by unconscious bias."

Some basic tips for video interviewing can be found here.

Assess While You Interview

Traditional assessments can be an irritant to candidates who view them as an obstacle lengthening the hiring process. But assessments built in to the video interview extract information from the interview itself, scoring a candidate's responses and, from the candidate's perspective, eliminating that extra step.

Candidates' responses to customized questions—whether recorded or live—give companies a better understanding of behavioral attribute patterns, Parker said. "Companies can improve hiring success rates and reduce turnover costs by using video as a deeper intelligence layer into candidate attributes that map to their current high performers."

Kukreti said that employers seeking technical knowledge from candidates can have them respond to a series of live progressive exercises that use AI to determine the next question based on the last response in an adaptive fashion.

"The idea is to get to the best set of data points to help you make your hiring decision," he said. "Data allows interviewers to benchmark candidates in a standardized way and eliminates the ambiguity from hiring decisions. Companies can customize their interviews based on their values and required hard and soft skills."

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