Applicant Preferences for Video Job Interviews
IndustryView | 2015
Research indicates that more than 60 percent of hiring managers and recruiters now use video for their remote job interviewing needs—which can create a potentially stressful situation for applicants who have never used it before.
To learn more, Software Advice recently conducted a survey to gauge how candidates feel about interviewing for a job via video. The results, highlighted in this report, can help employers and recruiters learn how to use video interviewing platforms to create a more positive experience for interviewees.
For hiring managers and recruiters, the benefits of video interviews over phone interviews are numerous. The technology allows them to see interviewees’ dress, appearance and body language, and hiring managers can save recorded interviews to share with other managers to compare candidates.
Many platforms also offer an option for pre-recorded, or “one-way,” video interviews, where hiring managers send questions to candidates to record answers to whenever they want, saving interviewers a great deal of time.
While these benefits are encouraging many employers to adopt video interviewing, how do potential employees feel about using this technology? We surveyed nearly 400 people who have applied for a job in the last two years to find out.
Although the use of video interviewing software is growing, it appears many interviewees have not yet been exposed to it. Forty-six percent of recent job applicants in our survey have never interviewed for a full-time job through video, while 24 percent have only done so once. The remaining 30 percent (combined) have completed multiple video interviews, though just 5 percent have completed four or more.
Even though there is a lack of familiarity among candidates, there are numerous advantages to video interviewing that they may not even be aware of, says David Wieland, CEO of video interviewing platform RIVS.
“It provides them with a way to tell their story that they never could have before,” Wieland says. “No matter what you do, you can’t get your story across on a piece of paper. That only happens when people see and hear you. It’s about your presentation; it’s about your attitude.”
Overall, a combined majority of respondents in our sample say that, if an in-person interview isn’t available for a given job, they would prefer a phone interview (51 percent) over a video interview (34 percent).
When broken down by past experience, however, those who have prior video interview experience say they prefer this format. Meanwhile, those who don’t have video interview experience say they prefer a phone interview—which is interesting, as they don’t know what the alternative is like.
Among those respondents who prefer video interviews, one says that “interviewing via webcam allows me to receive body language feedback [that] wouldn't be present otherwise.” Another reports feeling more confident during a video interview, while another says that a pre-recorded interview allows them to collect their thoughts and reduce feelings of nervousness.
Given that applicants with video interview experience tend to prefer this format, it’s up to hiring managers and recruiters to make newcomers feel comfortable using the software. One thing Wieland suggests is for users to promote video interviewing as a way for candidates to learn more about the job and the company.
“You are interviewing the person who is interviewing you, too; that’s one thing people really forget,” he says. “If people approach it in that way—that it gives them more visibility into the company they’re working for—then I think they would have a much different perspective.”
Wieland adds that companies can actually use video interviewing as a marketing tool when hiring as a way to set the company apart for younger job applicants.
“We do surveys, and college-level folks actually see video interviewing as advanced; forward-thinking; innovative,” Wieland explains. “They say they don’t want to go through the same application process as what their parents went through.”
There are also certain steps hiring managers and recruiters can take when using video interviewing software to help applicants feel more at ease. For example, if a candidate is recording a one-way interview for the first time, some products allow interviewers to record a brief introduction video to explain how things work so there’s no confusion.
“I would add a personal message at the beginning of the whole process saying, ‘Thank you so much for applying. I know that one-way video is a new process for many people, but trust me, it’s going to be easy for you, and you’re going to do a great job,’” Wieland advises. “That opens it up from a personal perspective, and it really is incredibly powerful.”
To dig deeper into applicants’ misgivings about video interviews, we next asked them to choose, from a list of options, what they would consider to be the most significant drawback of interviewing for a job via video as opposed to over the phone.
The most popular answer is possible Internet connectivity issues (27 percent), followed by feeling uncomfortable on camera (21 percent) and the possibility of poor audio or video quality (18 percent).
Losing a connection or experiencing poor audio or video quality during a job interview can be a frightening prospect for candidates, but there are certain things interviewers can do to put them at ease about this. For starters, they can offer interviewees a few tips on how to secure their connection.
Skype recommends that those who use their service do so through a wired Internet connection for stability, instead of Wi-Fi—a tip that is equally relevant for video interviewing platforms.
Users should also close any bandwidth-eating programs, such as media streaming services or online games, which could be affecting their connection, especially when conducting live video interviews that require more bandwidth. Some interviewing platforms even have status bars or lights to indicate how strong or stable a user’s connection is.
For interviewers and interviewees alike, however, nothing beats doing a trial run.
“If you know you’re going to be doing a video interview, go ahead and get in that environment and go test it ahead of time,” Wieland recommends.
To help put candidates engaging in pre-recorded interviews at ease, some platforms can be set to enable users to re-record responses as many times as necessary. This allows candidates to try again, should a bad connection or other issue interrupt their recording. However, companies will have to balance the benefit of allowing candidates to re-record with the authenticity that having only one chance to record a response offers.
While Wieland admits that “it’s not easy” to make interviewees more comfortable on camera, he says that education and practice can help.
“People are afraid of what they don’t know, plain and simple,” he says. “The more you can educate them and help them map out what’s about to happen and help them practice, the better.”
To this end, many video interviewing products allow users to practice their responses before recording, which can help them calm their nerves beforehand. Some systems even have note-taking functionality, which can help interviewees stay on track during pre-recorded responses or give them something to refer to during live interviews that employers can’t see.
It’s interesting to note that applicants in our survey are less concerned than other factors about discrimination, which is a hot-button issue in the video interviewing world. However, this could be because our sample is relatively young: Only 8 percent of respondents are over the age of 45.
According to a survey of 14- to 24-year-olds by David Binder Research, a majority of younger people feel that they are in a "post-racial society." As such, discrimination may not be a primary concern for younger applicants.
Most of the time, it’s not up to the candidate whether they have to engage in a live video interview or a pre-recorded one. But if given a choice, which would they prefer? A combined majority of the job applicants we surveyed (57 percent) say they would prefer a live video interview, compared to a combined total of just 28 percent who would prefer a pre-recorded one.
With a pre-recorded interview, an interviewee may feel like they are talking to a computer instead of talking to a person. Unlike a live video interview, or even an in-person interview, a pre-recorded interview isn’t so much a conversation as it is test questions that need to be answered.
As with the previously mentioned introduction video, Wieland says there are other personal touches that hiring managers and recruiters can use software to add to pre-recorded interviews to help candidates feel more comfortable. These can be as simple as the interviewer recording the questions in their own voice or through video.
“[If I] actually record the questions, and they can see me asking the question, that’s much better than text; it’s more personal," Wieland says. "It's closer to that natural dialogue that people have, even though it’s a one-way thing.”
Wieland also recommends that hiring managers and recruiters start with pre-recorded interviews to significantly reduce their initial applicant pool, followed by live video interviews for the second round, and lastly an in-person interview with the final two or three candidates to select a winner.
To get a better idea of other ways that hiring managers and recruiters can cater to video interviewees, we asked what length of time would feel too long for a video job interview. The highest percentage of respondents say that anything over one hour would feel too long (34 percent), followed closely by those who say an hour and a half (29 percent).
While interviewers should have enough time to ask all necessary questions, there are a few steps they can take before and during a video interview to save time on both sides. For example, some video interview platforms allow users to pre-load the questions they want to ask, which helps keep the interview on track.
Wieland notes that it’s important not to take advantage of a candidate’s time, and to know when a question is best saved for later.
“Stay on task, and don’t let yourself go on a tangent that is probably irrelevant to the conversation,” he says. “If you want to dig deep into a candidate’s history or experience in one particular area, now is not the time to do it. That’s what the in-person interview is for.”
Recruiters and hiring managers would also be wise to explain the entire hiring process to candidates ahead of time so they know what to expect from each interview. Indeed, Wieland says the primary complaint of most job seekers is that they don’t know what the hiring process entails, and that nobody ever gets back to them.
“We try to encourage hiring managers and recruiters to keep people informed of the process,” Wieland notes. “Tell [the candidate] that they’re going to do a quick, one-way video interview, and it will take about 15 minutes. Then tell them you’re going to assess that video, and invite them to either a live video interview or an in-person interview afterwards. Just give people some comfort around the process.”
The tips presented in this report can help hiring managers and recruiters create a positive experience for candidates who may be interviewing over video for the first time. Ensuring a positive experience is essential, because a negative one can have a far more detrimental impact than most hiring managers may realize.
We asked recent job applicants what impact a negative job interview experience would have on their likelihood to perform several subsequent actions. Eighty-six percent say they would be “somewhat” or “much more likely” to decline a job offer from that company, while 68 percent say they would be “somewhat” or “much more likely” to tell others not to apply.
This data suggests that, if employers don’t take steps to ensure a positive interview experience for candidates, this could negatively impact not only the hiring of that individual, but interactions with future candidates.
When used smartly, video interviews can be an essential tool for attracting and engaging with desirable candidates. But while the use of video interviews for hiring is growing, employers should be aware that potential candidates may not have prior experience with the technology, which could lead to an uncomfortable experience for them.
To ensure that all candidates are comfortable enough to give their best interview, steps should be taken to help familiarize them with the process, create a more personal level of interaction and to avoid any technical difficulties.
Additionally, other factors should be considered beyond the video interview itself. For a pre-recorded interview, many software systems allow interviewers to create a mix of video response, multiple-choice and open-field text questions, so they don’t have to rely solely on what the interviewee says in front of a camera. Wieland advises interviewers to follow this practice every time for optimal results.
To find the data in this report, we conducted a seven-day online survey of nine questions, and gathered 374 responses from random people from around the world. We screened our sample to only include respondents who had applied to a full-time job in the last two years. Software Advice performed and funded this research independently.
Results are representative of our survey sample, not necessarily the population as a whole. Sources attributed and products referenced in this article may or may not represent client vendors of Software Advice, but vendor status is never used as a basis for selection. Expert commentary solely represents the views of the individual. Chart values are rounded to the nearest whole number.
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