In a global marketplace, employers are beginning to realize that their best potential employees might not live in the same city, the same state, or even the same country. The connecting power of the Internet and social media, however, give companies the ability to recruit and screen potential applicants no matter how far away they may live. And online video is playing a huge role in this shift in the way hiring is done.
Inc. Magazine has a fascinating article on companies and job seekers using online video to replace some of the more traditional steps in the hiring process. They speak with several hiring professionals who are using Skype and other customized video-based services to help narrow the group of potential employees.
A few years ago, I applied for a job with a large marketing firm in a city three states away. After several phone interviews, the company eventually flew me out, put me up in a nice hotel, bought me meals, and spent a day interviewing me. Ultimately, I decided not to take the job offer, though the company and its people impressed me.
I couldn't have been the only applicant. And the firm was large enough, that I have to believe many of their other applicants were also flown out on the company's dime. Imagine the money they could have saved by conducting those interviews on Skype instead of in person.
Services like Skype are a godsend to hiring managers, and the accounting folks love it too. Inc. interviewed Perry Blacher, the CEO of a company called Covestor. Covestor uses Skype heavily for recruiting, and Blacher's a big fan because he's able to see a candidate's appearance and non-verbal communication without having to be in the same room physically:
"You can sort of see in people's body language things like enthusiasm. Visual signals [are as important] as the things people say."
Blacher has even used Skype to allow multiple people in his company to speak with the same applicant on a party line.
Another company profiled by Inc. is J. Arnold & Associates, a research and analysis firm. Jon Arnold thinks video is rapidly replacing old-school hiring and employment practices:
"These things are really starting to make video such a common part of our vocabulary now. It's almost like you're getting to the point where you're going to expect it, not so much that it's a bonus. That's how fast it's moving."
There are also emerging competitors for Skype, such as VuCall, which provides a subscription service for high-definition video conferencing for 100 people at a time--and it's secure, which is a huge plus. VuCall video sessions can also be recorded for reference later.
Specialized Video Interview Services
The article goes on to talk about Hyier and HireVue, a pair of competing video interview services that offer extras and features Skype does not. HireVue, for instance, lets hiring managers flip through candidate interviews like a slide show---there's even a "360-degree format" that allows you to filter the videos by the questions asked, so you can watch all candidates' answers in succession. Says Tracee Comstock, of StorageCraft, who has used HireVue on multiple occasions:
"We typically ask candidates the same 15 questions and the tool allows us to review candidates in a 360-degree format. Skype-like services are in a live format and do not record the interview without an additional plugin. This makes it difficult to go back and truly compare the individual candidate's responses."
Here's a video of a HireVue demonstration from last summer given by their Vice President of Marketing, Chris Higbee:
Another competitor in this new space is InterviewStream, which allows applicants to record answers at their own pace and also offers them a practice session so they can fine tune their demeanor and their answers, like football players watching game film to improve their performance.
Video hiring, like video resumés, is inevitable. Just as it's now common for employers to Google prospective employees or check out their Facebook pages, video interviews will be the norm. There's just too much upside. Employers save money and time, and are able to tap into a wider pool of applicants. Applicants get a chance to stand out from their competition by showcasing their professionalism and personality.
However... we're not there yet. As Inc. reminds us in their final sentence: all the hiring managers interviewed for the article say they still perform in-person interviews as a final step before making a job offer.
But the trend is underway, and it's probably irreversible. Video interviews convey more than phone interviews ever can, while sparing the cost of the in-person variety. Heck, you might even use Skype to help land your very next job.