In short, no.  Throughout my career I have dealt with the tyranny of distance in recruitment.  Some years ago I lived and worked in Hong Kong and managed offices in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia.  At the time the organisation I worked for had a policy that hires should be met and signed off by regional directors – my responsibility in Asia.  The idea was that for future career progression reasons employees should be suited to the overall organisation rather than just to the location they were hired in.  In order not to hold up local management in their desire to grow their businesses I had the choice of video interviewing candidates for the purposes of approval or jumping on a plane, thereby burning days that I could have used for other purposes.

What I found was that interviewing someone over a screen is better than phone, but nowhere near as good as face to face.

I sometimes found myself regretting decisions I made over video when I met the person face to face or when their subsequent performance proved not to be up to the mark.

More recently I have used video interviewing when recruiting for SACS as an initial way of screening candidates to see if we should psych test them (we never interview candidates without psych testing them first).  This has proven helpful, but very inaccurate for the following reasons .

  • Some excellent candidates find the video conferencing experience very daunting. Even those who can present superbly face to face can be “wigged out” at the lack of non-verbal feedback and other cues.  I do a lot of public speaking, but I remember my first few Webinars as extremely stressful for this reason – no feedback.  Also, introverts really struggle with this challenge.
  • You don’t get to see their full range of nonverbals. People who seem impressive on the screen can be very unimpressive face to face and vice versa.  The screen screens out a number of really important nonverbals and can make it difficult to assess issues such as sincerity.
  • We have found that a number of very strong candidates struggled with the technical challenge of dealing with the software. This caused their videos to be poorly sequenced or framed and affected our impression of them. Do you really want to discriminate against candidates who are not yet adept with little used technology like video interviewing apps?

So, video interviewing can be a fantastic aid where distances are involved, or volume recruitment of positions which are relatively junior and low impact, but nothing replaces personal impressions.  We are now seeing executive recruitment companies presenting candidates whom they have never met – they have been screened only through pre-recorded videos.

How this works is as follows.  The consultant sets up a range of questions and emails a link to the candidate.  The candidate records his or her answers and the package is then sent off to the client.    The real benefit to the recruiter is the fact that they now do not have to spend up to twenty hours per week interviewing and they can therefore spend much more time selling – gaining new business. If the client knows exactly what he or she is getting, then this is fine, but you should negotiate a deep discount on this much less comprehensive service.

If you want more information about screening candidates using psychological assessment, go to our Psychometric Testing page.

Andrew Marty
Managing Director
SACS

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