Most of the media coverage these days about recruiting is devoted to social networking, mobile recruiting, and blogging, but the recruiting technology likely to have the most impact if it continues to catch on at the current rate is interviewing candidates “live” from remote locations. The approach I call “interviewing from anywhere” takes advantage of widespread broadband Internet access and inexpensive webcams, two factors that severely restricted videoconferencing as a feasible alternative to face-to-face interviews a decade ago.
Video conferencing is not only a practical nice-to-have capability, it is a necessity for any modern recruiting organization charged with recruiting truly top talent around the world. Remote video interviews provide numerous benefits. One of the most difficult to ignore in these tough economic times is the fact that they are dramatically cheaper.
When it comes to video-conference interviews, organizations still have two options: high quality fixed facility interviews, and lower quality flexible location interviews. The latter requires only that the candidate have access to a decent broadband Internet connection and a low-cost webcam. When purchased in bulk, a number of webcams are available at prices less than $15 per unit. Based on my experience, I predict that within a few years the “interview from anywhere” approach will become the standard practice for all but final hiring interviews.
Literally hundreds of firms have already begun using video interviews, and usage patterns are climbing at a significant pace. While first-movers adopting the approach were predominantly in the high-tech and communications industries, today usage crosses nearly every industry. Organizations like HP, Microsoft, Google, Tyco, Whirlpool, Rio Tinto, E*Trade, PepsiCo, UCLA, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and Broadcom are marquee customers of leading solution providers.
If you doubt that this approach will truly grab hold, just look back at the uphill battle that phone screens had to fight before they became the de facto standard first step in the assessment process.
The Business Case for Adopting the “Interview from Anywhere” Approach
Increasing the number of candidates available to interview and cutting the cost per hire are two major benefits of adopting the “interview from anywhere” approach. In tough economic times, the travel costs that result from flying in multiple candidates for interviews is a highly visible expense, especially when you consider that a majority of the people brought in will not result in a hire. For companies that recruit nationally or internationally, travel-related expenses can easily account for 50% of all recruiting costs.
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The second and perhaps the most significant business benefit of remote interviewing is that it dramatically increases your candidate pool. For many organizations, tough economic times limit the talent pool dramatically to local candidates. However, since there are no travel costs associated with the “interview from anywhere” approach, firms with limited budgets will be able to consider top-quality candidates from outside the region. Ease of scheduling is another significant reason why the quality and the size of the talent pool increases; no longer will attending an interview be a major time suck. Even the volume of local candidates will likely increase as remote interviews will not require them to lie to their boss and disappear for a day.
Additional Advantages of “Interviewing From Anywhere”
There are many additional advantages associated with the interview-from-anywhere approach, so if you’re having reservations about the concept, here are some additional points to consider:
- Interviewee and interviewer performance — because candidates are not rushed to get back to work or fatigued from hours of driving or airline travel, they are more likely to be relaxed and excited about the opportunity to present themselves. The net result is that the candidates perform more like their normal selves. In cases where the interviewers need to travel in order to ask questions during the interview, they too will be refreshed and better able to sell and excite the candidate.
- Almost-live view — with broadband and the latest generation of webcams, the quality of the video is quite high. Unlike telephone interviews, facial expressions and body language can be readily seen, something that hiring managers rate as a “must-have” feature. Your ability to sell candidates that are in high demand may also be improved because they can effectively see and feel the excitement of the interviewing team.
- Lower dropout rate because of multiple interviews — if your organization requires multiple interviews on different days, that multiplies the amount of travel and the scheduling difficulty associated with hiring an individual. Allowing the candidate to “interview from anywhere” and after work hours reduces the amount of scheduling and travel stress that routinely builds up over multiple interviews. Taken together, they reduce the likelihood that a currently employed candidate will drop out halfway through the process due to fatigue or their unavailability.
- Faster time-to-fill — a great deal of the delay that plagues many organizations in making a hire can be associated with the time required for travel and to find an opportunity for the candidate to get away from work without raising suspicion. Requiring all of the interviewers to be in the same room also can delay the scheduling of interviews. If managers are willing to hold interviews at night, on weekends, or on holidays, they may be able to do all the interviews back to back. Holding the interviews closer together or even back to back also makes it easier for comparisons to be made between candidates. Taken together these factors may significantly shorten the time it takes to fill open positions. This can mean less lost revenue (as a result of the extended vacancies). Reducing the delays in making a hiring decision (prominent in traditional interviewing) might also mean that many of the quality candidates that are in high demand will not drop out of the process before it is concluded, because they were not forced by the time delays to accept other offers.
- An improved candidate experience — most people in recruiting routinely say that they want to improve “the candidate experience,” but forcing candidates to lie to their boss and travel multiple times is not a positive experience. It may impact their willingness to accept an offer and what they tell their colleagues about your firm.
- Ethical issues — for currently employed candidates, asking them to come in for an interview during work hours (on company time) can cause ethical concerns among the best candidates. In other cases it may force them to use sick days, personal days, or vacation time. They may also feel that they are letting their team down by being absent from work during the time that they are traveling and interviewing. Conducting interviews from home outside of work hours can help alleviate these pressures. Also, because there’s no travel time involved, the candidate doesn’t have to add the travel time to their excuse for not being at work.
- Green concerns — using technology to reduce travel certainly reduces much of the carbon footprint and the environmental impact related to a job search. For environmentally conscious candidates, this may be a major selling point and an illustration that your company is focused on sustainability.
- Family impacts — having to travel and be away from their family (with no guarantee that they’ll actually get the job) may discourage even unemployed individuals from applying.
- Administrative costs — candidates who must physically visit the facility generate an expense because they must be cleared through security. There may also be scheduling issues and a cost associated with using conference rooms for the interview. These costs, although small, escalate as more individuals are physically brought to the facility.
- Employer brand image — offering this new approach may garner media attention and positive comments on the Internet. Together they may encourage more individuals to apply. By showing respect both for the candidate’s time and the needs of their current firm, you may also build goodwill in your image.
- Manager scheduling availability — using this approach, hiring managers can also interview from almost anywhere without having to be in the office. As a result, they are more likely to be able to easily find time for interviewing, further reducing a major barrier to speeding up time to fill.
- It uses available technology — it’s important to realize that the technology involved has improved since the last time you may have contemplated video conferencing. If you use a vendor, there is generally no need to purchase additional software or web-related technology. In addition, because laptops, wireless networks, and mobile phones can generally be used, manager resistance decreases because they don’t need to use new hardware or technology.
- More are comfortable with remote interaction — because many managers and candidates are now frequent users of online social and business networks, they are now generally more comfortable and experienced than in the past with interacting with individuals who are not in the same room.
- Global capability — relatively cheap long-distance communications and the Internet allow this process to have a global capability.
- A recruiting advantage — by being the first to offer this approach, your firm will develop a competitive advantage over other firms struggling to “offer something different.”
- You can maintain the “physical meeting” option — no matter how many remote interviews you hold, you can still reserve the option to interview the candidate in person for the final interview.
- Minimal price — even if you use a vendor, the price per interview will most likely not exceed $200. There are also free options if you have your own technology function.
- Facility tour — in lieu of a physical walk around, virtual tours and team member introductions can still be provided to the candidate via a web video.
- Vendor availability — most early adopters of the interview-from-anywhere approach are using a vendor to facilitate the process. While most support video from anywhere, a few focus on higher quality video experience and require the candidate to visit a studio. Some of the vendors to consider include: GreenJobInterview, iViioo, HireVue, and Candidate Quality Management.
- Additional uses — in addition to using the interview from anywhere process for external hiring, it can also be used for internal transfers and vendor selection.
Next week: Part 2 will cover more advantages of live video interviews, some potential problems, and ways to improve your in-person interviews by changing the “where and when.”