Remote Video Interviews – A Guide For Improving Their Accuracy

Dr. John Sullivan and Michael Cox

Aggressive Recruiting – A weekly column by Dr. John Sullivan

Remote video interviews are suddenly quite popular, but few realize that they have serious flaws that negatively impact the decisions made after using them. And with many recruiters now working from home, it’s critical to immediately remedy these design flaws that hurt your quality of hire. This article is a quick guide to a dozen easy remote video interview (RVI) practices and tips that can result in a significant improvement in your results. The lowest-cost and easiest to implement actions are listed first.

Action steps for reducing discomfort and anxiety. Most candidates are uncomfortable even during standard interviews, but they may be up to 50% more uncomfortable and anxious during remote video interviews. RVIs involve new technology, new expectations, and candidates have so little experience with them. Take actions to reduce candidate uncertainty by clearly explaining the goals and benefits of remote interviews. And let each candidate know what exactly he or she should expect at each step of the interview process (including who will likely be participating in the interview). For candidates, interviewers should give interviewees the choice to select their preferred software. Provide each candidate with an opportunity to watch an example of a prerecorded video or allow candidates to actually go through a sample dry run RVI themselves. Also, provide them with a list of frequently asked questions and answers about remote video interviewing. Incidentally, many interviewers and hiring managers are also new to remote video interviews. So, educating them about the potential problems and requiring them to go through at least one mock interview will help to normalize interviewer behavior during RVIs. Also, prepare the interviewer so that they can easily handle cultural and greeting differences.

Make it easy for the candidate to appear natural without distracting elements. When having bad or a complete lack of eye contact with the interviewer destroyed the candidate’s chances by nearly 60% of employers, coaching candidates, on online impression management tactics, is a necessary step for dropping high-quality candidates. Whenever an interview is held remotely at a place chosen by the candidate or interviewer, there are likely to be many background elements that can cause distractions during the interview. Those distractions might include the quality of operational factors including sound, video streaming, lighting, head placement, and a spotty Internet connection. Visual background factors include clothing choices and visible room features can also negatively impact judgments. Background sounds including street sounds, music, pet, and child noises can also be highly distracting. Fortunately, you can reduce background noises with a noise filter (like Krisp.ai at less than $4). You can help the candidate understand these distractions by giving them a checklist covering each of the common distraction errors. And finally, encourage each candidate to pretest his or her video environment including hand and body movements in advance to minimize any distractions.

Add “the human touch” to remote video interviews. Both hiring managers and candidates frequently complain that remote interviews lack “the human touch” associated with face-to-face interviews. However, the proliferation of current work at home rules, physically meeting with candidates has become quite difficult. However, it still makes sense to maximize the feeling of the human touch. By reaching out in a human way to attempt to build a bond with the candidate through personalized communication is key to building a connection. That connection might keep them from dropping out of the hiring process early. And, it might also improve the chances that they will accept an offer from your organization if it is made. Focus your human touch efforts on your interview finalists. Start by having the hiring manager personally invite each candidate to the interview. Prior to the interview, consider sending candidates a personalized informal welcoming video with 15-second snippets from each team member (make it informally using a team member’s mobile phone camera). In that video clip, the team shows the candidate their own and the team’s workspace. And just prior to the interview show that you have empathy. By having the recruiter call them and ask them if they need anything or have any questions before the video interview begins. If you use a video service like Zoom that allows participation by numerous team members, start the interview session by having each team member make a 10-second live comment covering something interesting about themselves. And when possible, tell them how quickly you will provide them with interview feedback.

Let everyone know that remote interviews speed up hiring decisions. Candidates dread long delays. So, let them know that of telephone interviews and RVI’s can lead to dramatically faster hiring decisions. For example, Walmart recently reduced its time to hire associates down to one day with the aid of remote screenings and assessments. Start by letting the candidates know that remote assessments reduce their time away from work and add to environmental sustainability. Also, make them aware that telephone interviews can reduce gender and age biases. It is also important to let hiring managers know that there is a direct correlation between hiring speed and the quality of your new hire. Emphasize that slow hiring means that most of the top candidates will have already dropped out or accepted other offers by the time your organization makes a hiring decision.

Walk me through the steps. Credit Pixabay.

Add a “walk me through the steps” current problem to the interview. Both face-to-face and remote interviews currently produce less accurate assessments. Because so many of the interview questions are available to the candidates online on sites like Glassdoor.com. However, you can improve candidate assessment accuracy dramatically by giving finalist candidates a real problem that they will likely face during their first month on the job. Rather than the flawed behavioral interview covering past work environments. This “walk me through your steps for solving this problem” will give you a more accurate view of how the candidate will act today under your firm’s actual circumstances. You can facilitate this “walk me to the steps” process using a shared Google doc, presentation, Zoom or other interactive collaborative sites (for live coding exercises, consider Visual Studio Code and the Live Share). A few firms even physically ship whiteboards to candidates for use in this exercise.

Recording remote video interviews provide many benefits. Services like Zoom make it easy for your company to record video interviews. However, knowing that they will be recorded can make some candidates even more nervous. So, carefully explain the practice in a nonthreatening way. Recording their interviews do provide some benefits to the candidate. First, recording the interview will likely reduce the use of illegal or inappropriate questions. Remote video and telephone interviews also make it easier for the candidate because both allow the use of post-it notes that can remind the candidate of information that they should share. For candidates that came in 2nd but that were not hired, the final interview can be passed on to other managers. Lastly, the kept interview might improve the candidate’s chances of being considered for a future job.

From the hiring manager’s perspective, there are several benefits. When a candidate knows that they are being recorded, they may provide you with a higher rate of honesty. And the recording makes it easier for the firm to confront their answers after checking with their references. Recording interviews also allow the hiring team to revisit existing interviews later without having to interview the candidate again. And because the interviews are live on the Internet, more team members can attend from wherever they are. Additionally, recording allows those that miss the initial interview to still see it and evaluate the candidate at any time. Being able to compare recordings using an interview scoring sheet allows a hiring manager to easily compare them side-by-side before they make a final decision. HR, or hiring managers, can also review multiple interviews of the same candidate to see if they are giving consistent answers. And the same process can be used to determine if different interviewers are inadvertently repeating the same questions, therefore, boring the candidates. Lastly, a common obstacle to hiring managers is trusting remote employees. To take action immediately, you can offer a no-fault release if this new hire doesn’t work out. Not everyone succeeds at remote work and some individuals may have to wait until the stay at home orders have been rescinded.

Other parts of the hiring process should also be remote. Under the current work at home regulations and if you are frequently recruiting workers that will permanently work remotely. Other parts of your hiring process will also have to work remotely. Begin with your candidate offer process. You cannot have a system where individuals need to print out papers to accept a job offer. Because they may not have access to a printer at home to print out these documents. Remove this step entirely by using an ATS or Hello Sign and fillable PDFs. You can also improve your job offer acceptance by having an integrated CRM or ATS platform to follow up with candidates. As long as most employees are working from home, you also need to realize that your onboarding process will have to be revised so that it works flawlessly for remote workers.

Adding a self-service interview scheduling will also dramatically speed up your hiring process. As mentioned previously, remote interviews are much easier for the candidate to schedule. However, automating the interview scheduling process and making it self-service can help to further reduce the highest single delay factor within recruiting. Because many recruiters and the support staff of hiring managers are working remotely. They are extremely difficult to get a hold of in order to schedule any type of interview. Because they might have limited access to a landline, advanced calendar management may be necessary for interview scheduling during COVID-19. If you do not have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), you will need to develop one of these three advanced interview scheduling techniques. They include request a read receipt to track if your scheduling email was opened (e.g., Boomerang (Free or $4.99)) or schedule across time zones using World Time Buddy. We strongly recommend self-service candidate scheduling, so consider using Calendly to automate scheduling with candidates and interviewers.

The technology that you supply your at-home recruiters will need to be updated. Your at-home technology is available to your recruiters will also need to evolve during recruiter increased demand. Investing $200-$1000 per recruiter will allow them to build an ergonomic and effective working environment. A high-quality microphone will be necessary to provide excellent service. For example, the Sennheiser OfficeRunner Convertible DECT 6.0 ($350 – $429) or the Blue Snowball USB with a pop filter ($50-$90) will provide excellent sound quality. Supplying your recruiters with effective microphones ensures that the candidate will be able to hear you clearly and be perceived as professionals. Your ability to sell is directly connected to how your voice is perceived and you should not ruin it by settling for poor microphones. Your built-in laptop camera will, in most cases, be sufficient, but recruiters may need to move their laptop to eye level. Use a laptop stand ($15-$50) or books to place your laptop at eye level. This step will allow you to look directly into the camera and have that face-to-face interaction. Next, purchase a white light lamp ($10 – $40) if they cannot place themselves in front of a sunny window. Put the lamp directly above and behind the camera. In case of a technical breakdown, you should have your mobile phone ready with the relevant application so that it is also capable of joining the meeting. Purchase a tripod ($5-$20) to attach to the phone and provide consistent quality.

A Guide For Selecting The Most Appropriate Video Interviewing Technology

There are now many emerging video technologies and numerous paid and free online and mobile phone video streaming services. Some are specifically designed for remote video interviews. We recommend that you consider the following.

Some quick video interview tool recommendations

  • Use Zoom if your hiring team is not interviewing thousands of applicants.
  • Use G Suite (Hangouts Meet) or MS Teams if your hiring team uses these products internally.
  • Use a dedicated hiring platform (like HireVue/ADP) if you have a large req load and many recruiters.

About the Video Interviewing Tools Market

Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have built their products to be functional without owning the technology itself. This means that someone with a Google account and an individual with a Microsoft account can hold meetings with each other. We recommend basing your technology choice on these 5 criteria: requisition load, poaching capability, quality of hire decision making factors, candidate experience, and cost.

Requisition load refers to the team’s ability to handle an influx of applications, screen candidates, and schedule interviews. An integrated ATS or CRM can make this easy. You will need additional steps without an integrated system. Poaching value, the ability to provide a great, anonymous experience to the candidates, increases when you are capable of providing an interview process without requiring the candidate to go through multiple hurdles that can endanger their current position. Quality of hire decision-making factors can include asynchronous interview capabilities, assessments, and integrated transcription services. Candidate experience depends on the ease of use, reliability, and the widespread use of the technology. Lastly, cost becomes a factor for individual companies. These video interviewing products use SaaS (Software as a Service) model to sell its products. This means that the products are charged on a monthly or annual basis based on number users on a host, or licensed, account. When certain products are functional with the free account, I have placed that option below.

Video interviewing product summaries

Zoom 3 Prices: $14.99 to $19.99/mo/host. Zoom is an easy tool to set up and use immediately for your video interview process. You have the ability to interview anyone with using drop-in meetings to let anyone inside. This has become a problem with the increased popularity of Zoom. There are guides and practices to avoid this problem. Do not create a single conference room for all your interviews that day. Although this is easier for the interviewer, you do not want interviewees showing up early when you have another meeting with another potential candidate. Furthermore, you want to encourage candidates to check their settings before the actual interview. Zoom provides a whiteboard feature under the share screen tab for you to solve problems in real-time and see how they are going to solve the problems step by step. Transcription integration is available which allows you to share interviews with other individuals quickly. Calendar invitations are available in multiple formats (e.g., Google Calendar, Outlook) for further integration into your company. Stay ahead on updates and take extra security measures.

Microsoft Teams3 Prices: Free | $12.50/mo/host to $5.00/mo/host (no desktop version of apps). MS Teams allows you to use the browser version for free to join your interview session. The calendar system is great and is integrated into Google’s G Suite as well. Candidates will receive an invite to join through their web browser. Microsoft Teams separates itself from the competition with integrated transcription services and it has a background blur capability.

Google Hangouts Meet – 4 Prices: Free | $6/mo/host to $25/mo/host. For the purposes of remote interviewing, the major difference between these price points is the number of candidates and integration into other Google Suite products. With 80%+ of emails being unopened and 1.5 billion users, Google Hangouts provides an option for you to communicate and be seen by candidates. These options include using the Hangouts/Chat feature to directly communicate and creating a Google Calendar invite.

HireVue – Price: Complicated, see this write-up by Shlomi Lavi – Specializes in allowing the business to view recorded interviews and compare candidates’ answers through the hiring process. Video interview software to provide access to Live and OnDemand video interviews. The OnDemand provides an asynchronous option for structured interviews and the platform allows the team to easily share answers with others. This enterprise option is helpful for high-volume interviewing and should be considered next to its competitors. However, we warn you to be wary of the accuracy of its assessments of candidate emotions and other promises by HR vendors. For more tips, see Dr. Sullivan’s article on assessing talent vendors.

BlueJeans Price: $9.99 to $13.99/mo/host | Enterprise is customized – BlueJeans is another agnostic tool that integrates into MS Teams and G Suite. It does integrate into Slack, Skype, and Workplace. Comparable to Zoom and an alternative vendor.

Cisco WebEx MeetingsPrice: Free (for now) | $13.50 to $26.95/mo/host – Another tool for a scalable experience, Cisco WebEx allows screen sharing, video, and phone call-ins. This tool does not require a complicated sign-in, but it does need a quick Add-on downloaded. This add-on download can be frustrating for working candidates as the employee may not have permission to download it. We recommend letting the candidate know and set up early. Cisco WebEx’s (currently) free option is superior to its competitors leaving you with no excuse to not start hiring today.

Slack, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Instagram, FaceTime – Great for international hiring, hidden candidates, and niche audiences. These tools are great for communication for hidden candidates because it’s global, discrete, underutilized, and instant. You can create talent communities through groups to reach candidates when they are ready to search for a job that matches their needs.

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Final Thoughts

Even this year’s NFL draft is shifting to the use of remote video interviews for assessing likely draft picks. It’s also true that our recent big bet survey results revealed that the use of technology in recruiting took up the number 3 and number 4 future TA investment areas in the top 10 firms. And the recent work-at-home model forced by the pandemic should make it even more obvious to corporate recruiting leaders and recruiters that remote video interviewing and remote digital assessment will need to be greatly accelerated. And from our view, remote video interviewing, both live and fully automated, will soon become an essential foundation technology. And that technology will even become more powerful when every recruiter learns how to minimize the drawbacks that can limit its results.

Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips. Please take a moment to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn and to subscribe to his weekly article on Aggressive Recruiting.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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