Q&A With InterActive Applicant’s Darryn Severyn

Nov 5, 2008

Give me five words to describe InterActive Applicant.

DS: Automated Multimedia Candidate Screening System.

What are the advantages of this product to independent/third-party recruiters?

DS: We have recently launched a very innovative InterActive Applicant Recruiter Portal function which allows third-party, independent recruiters to visually share their top candidates and resumes with their clients. I ran my own recruiting agency for over five years and we have consulted with several agencies in its development.

Now, instead of simply submitting a resume and text description of your applicant to the client, recruiting agencies can differentiate themselves by creating “pools” of applicants to share with their clients – resume and video interview answers side-by-side.

We have heard from employers that they would be more than willing to view more InterActive Applicant candidates from agencies in this manner – so instead of submitting the top-three candidates for a position, they may be able to submit five or 10. This results in increased opportunities for the agencies to earn the fee, especially in competing agency scenarios.

The agency Recruiter Portal is fully integrated with the InterActive Applicant employer clients and applicants, making is very easy to share candidates visually. The response to this new product development from agencies has been fantastic and a welcome addition to providing value-added benefits for certain agencies.

Why do recruiters need to use webcam technology for screening and initial interviewing?

DS: Webcam technology allows recruiters to make better screening decisions on which applicants to bring in for first interviews. It does not replace interviews but improves the screening for who should be invited for first interviews.

Very often applicants look good on paper, yet when they come in for that first interview, they are not as strong as expected. Just about every recruiter can tell you stories about when they have brought someone in for the first interview and five minutes into it, they know this applicant isn’t a good fit. This is wasted time and money – for the company and the applicant.

Why not spend five minutes viewing the applicant’s answers online before you invite them in? Doing so will save recruiters from booking off a one-hour time slot and wasting time on applicants who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

You say it can help to improve the candidate screening process, but doesn’t it also hurt candidates who are shy or nervous and may not make the best first impression?

DS: If an applicant is shy and nervous, that is how they are going to be in the first interview anyway. The webcam recording is no different than the first interview in terms of the applicant representing who they are and what else they offer besides their resume.

If the employer does not want to hire a shy and nervous person, then this type of applicant will not make it past the first-round interview anyway – it would just happen later in the process.

But, if this is the case, InterActive Applicant has just saved both the applicant and the employer time and money in the process. That is the advantage of an automated multimedia screening system.

In reality, InterActive Applicant allows the applicant to represent themselves in the best possible way. The candidates can record and re-record their one-minute answers to the job-specific questions as many times as they want before they submit it to the recruiter. Only when they are happy that their answers truly represent themselves will the recruiter be allowed to see it.

So, InterActive Applicant is actually helping applicants position themselves in the best possible light for the position. This is a huge benefit to them – now they can show their resume and themselves to hiring managers, opening up opportunities and preventing them from being discounted solely on their resume.

How much weight should recruiters give to the resume versus the video to prevent unfair hiring decisions?

DS: Depends on the position and its technical nature. For very technical positions such as computer programmers, the resume will likely be more important. The video can be used to help differentiate a team fit between those with similar qualifications.

However, for other positions where a successful applicant is one who needs strong communication skills, professionalism, and conviction, then the resume and the video responses will likely be equal. Examples of these types of positions could include sales representatives, marketing managers, sales managers, etc. Really, any position where communication skills are a high priority will benefit from InterActive Applicant screening.

When you consider unfair hiring practices, the video does not alter how current hiring decisions are made – just when they are made. Seeing and hearing the applicant on your desktop is not any different that seeing and hearing them during the first interview. There is little difference other than recruiters are doing so before applicants are in the interview room and InterActive Applicant is automated.

Our technology is not the cause of unfair hiring decisions – the person using it is. If there are going to be unfair hiring decisions made, it will happen no matter what the process is – whether it is using InterActive Applicant or if it is done in the first interview. The upside is with InterActive Applicant, time is saved for both the recruiter and the applicant.

How do you ensure OFCCP compliance? How are the two versions (Canadian and American) different in this respect?

DS: Regarding OFCCP compliance, we have built InterActive Applicant to allow recruiters to have all of their decision-making processes recorded, time/date stamped, and identified accurately. Then, this information is able to be uploaded into their applicant tracking system or applicant files. As decisions are made online for each applicant, recruiters can easily document comments on each question answered as well as the resume.

These comments, as well as which recruiter viewed them, are time and date stamped. InterActive Applicant records which format the applicant was viewed in – video, audio, or text, as each of these formats are available when posing questions to applicants.

We also handle all video response storage for two years in our secure servers and make that available to our clients should the need arise in the future. Additionally, we allow each client to customize their interview questions for their own use to ensure the questions posed follow any company compliance initiatives.

The Canadian and American versions are very similar, as we have consulted with HR and recruitment professionals on both sides of the border in our development, and continue to do so as we add future functionality. Our goal is to have a product that is easily used throughout North America and globally as we move forward. It has been developed to allow for multi-language use.

Do you encounter much resistance to people unfamiliar with using this technology and format?

DS: Once a recruiter or applicant tries out InterActive Applicant, they will see how intuitive and easy to use the system is.

Applicants are so used to just uploading resumes to every position that it is taking a bit of education as to why they should do more than upload one and hit submit. There are a lot of applicants who apply to as many positions as they can, sometimes without much thought as to which company or job they are applying to.

We have had clients tell us that they use InterActive Applicant in a way in which we hadn’t fully considered prior to launch. Within InterActive Applicant, recruiters are using our process as a method to see who is more serious about the position versus resume dumping.

If someone applies into InterActive Applicant and only uploads a resume, without responding to the questions asked, some employers are taking this as someone they likely don’t want to speak to (or speak to after viewing the other responses) – even if they have a strong resume.

They tell us that applicants who don’t take the time to respond to the questions may not be the best person to hire. If they aren’t willing to take the 15 minutes to record their answers and put some thought into the application process, then how will they contribute once they are hired? We thought this was a great way to further ensure only the best applicants are being interviewed and hired.

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