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Why Hiring Managers Should Avoid One-Way Video Interviews

There’s no denying that technology has improved hiring for both businesses and candidates alike. An applicant tracking system eliminates our spreadsheets and clogged email boxes. Video tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts make remotely interviewing easy, especially in the context of a global pandemic. All in all, these tools have made connecting businesses and job seekers easier. 

But hiring technology also needs to revolve around a constant dialogue: how do we automate processes and save time without sacrificing the key to finding the right people for our teams? In other words: How do we keep hiring human?

It’s crucial for hiring managers to evaluate your hiring technology and processes so they not only remove administrative and manual work, but foster more connection with candidates, not less. Hiring software should help surface high potential candidates without serving unconscious bias and poor candidate experiences. 

As the Director of HR for CareerPlug and a user of our own hiring software, I have real fear about hiring technology trends that appear to widen the rift between companies and candidates with more automated, impersonal, and even dehumanizing interactions. 

One of the most troubling trends I’ve seen is the rise of the one-way video interview. 

what is a one way video interview

What is a one-way video interview?

Also known as asynchronous interviews, one-way video interviews require job seekers to record themselves answering a set of questions for the hiring manager to view later. Keep in mind this is different from a two-way video interview, which involves a live discussion over a video platform like Zoom. 

It’s basically like an audition tape… except instead of an acting role, these job seekers are auditioning for a chance to have a two-way conversation with a potential employer. Yikes.

As you might imagine, this approach is hurting the candidate experience. But before we get into why, let’s quickly acknowledge why an employer would choose to use one-way video interviews in recruiting. 

What are the advantages of one-way video interviews? 

There is a compelling surface-level pitch for one-way video interviews. Recruiters and hiring managers are able to save time by reviewing short videos of candidates rather than scheduling and committing to phone screen interviews. When sifting through a high volume of candidates and time is of the essence, one-way video interviews offer a way to review more candidates and quickly move them to later stages in the hiring process. 

These interviews also allow candidates to interview on their own schedule and not have to take time off from a current position. If you’re hiring remotely across time zones, an asynchronous interview breaks down the barrier of business hours. 

It could be argued that these interviews actually improve the candidate experience by allowing candidates to interview at their own time, prepare and rehearse their answers (depending on the video software being used), and show off more of their personality. 

To which I’d respond: have you talked to real job seekers lately? 

hiring technology

What do job seekers think about one-way video interviews?

Jaylin Gamboa, an Austin resident, recently asked for fellow job seekers’ thoughts on these one-way video interviews on the popular Facebook group Austin Digital Jobs aimed at connecting and supporting local job seekers. 

The feedback was overwhelming against these interviews. “It makes me nervous because I want everything to be perfect and I know I will replay myself a million times on the screen never feeling like it will be good enough to send in,” Gamboa said. 

Other commenters pointed out the amount of effort it takes to produce even a one-minute video: recording and re-recording to try to get the words right, finding the right lighting, and troubleshooting technology. Some said they don’t bother at all and move on to the next opportunity. 

Not all job seekers are up in arms against one-way video interviews. Maria Fuschimo, an English teacher currently working in Seoul, didn’t mind this format. “In person I get nervous and forget to mention things, but since this one was recorded I was able to say everything I wanted because it didn’t put me on the spot,” she told me. 

This experience is largely dependent on the software that’s used, as not all allow you to rerecord answers or even know the questions ahead of time. Our own Client Training Manager at CareerPlug, Kate Anton, reported doing an interview where a question would pop up on the screen and give the candidate 15 seconds to think of their answer before the recording would start. 

“It felt really impersonal,” Anton said. “I wondered if it was even worth my time. I found it to be a lot more stressful than any sort of phone screen or in-person interview. Not interviewing with a live person meant there was no way to clarify the question or have them elaborate a bit more and I felt like I was fumbling my answers. It was so awkward.”

Abby Sommer, who works in HR in the Nashville area, spoke to her experience as both a candidate and an HR professional: “They feel extremely uncomfortable. The few times I’ve been asked to do one, I did not complete. It feels like a scam honestly.” She added that she also worked for a company in the past that used voice recording interviews “because of the sheer volume (think call center) and it did help tremendously in that situation” but that she “wouldn’t recommend using them unless absolutely necessary.” 

One ADJ group member summed it up best: “Worst… nightmare.” 

Is that the impression you want to give candidates at the start of your hiring process — a worst nightmare? 

One-way video interviews introduce hiring bias 

Everyone brings unconscious bias to the table that, without awareness and mitigation, can sabotage our recruiting efforts. One-way video interviews are a ripe opportunity for these types of unconscious biases to play out early in the hiring process. It creates a scenario in which a hiring manager could unconsciously make a judgment about a candidate based on their appearance, age, gender, race, disability, or any other aspect unrelated to the job, without having the chance to engage in a reciprocal conversation with them. 

Question your own assumptions about what you will learn from this recorded interview. 

As one Forbes contributor, Liz Ryan, points out: “If all a company wants is a printout of your answers to common interview questions, why do they make you interview with your voice at all? […] Maybe they want to get a look at you before they decide whether or not to invite you in for an interview. Otherwise, why would they need to videotape your fake interview? They could record just the audio.” 

The question Ryan was responding to was from another job seeker who had declined pursuing a job after being asked to do a one-way interview. 

Many ADJ commenters also raised a concern that one-way video interviews can create accessibility issues. Gamboa explains, “I feel it can discriminate against potential candidates who don’t have video/webcam access or those who suffer from a disability that hinges them from providing a video.” 

poor candidate experience

Candidate experience matters

To care about what these job seekers, and many more, are saying, you need to accept the basic premise that candidate experience matters. It matters to your employment brand and your ability to not only interview, but close the deal with talented people. 

In a recent survey of 250 job seekers, we found that 50% of respondents had declined a job offer due to poor experience during the hiring process. 

You are interviewing candidates. But they are also interviewing you. The one-way video interview robs candidates of that opportunity to ask questions just as it robs you as the hiring manager the chance to promote your company and build early connections with great candidates. More severely, it may rob you the chance of speaking with top talent at all. 

“It is automatically the end of me pursuing that opportunity,” Gillian Striker, a Project Manager in the San Francisco Bay area, told me. ”It feels rude. Job hunting is hard enough with sending resumes into the ether and not hearing back. If a company can’t even take the time to speak to me it feels disrespectful of my time, and I’d rather not work for a company that doesn’t respect their employees.” 

Creating positive candidate experiences will reward you with a positive employment brand and ultimately a pipeline of top candidates who want to work for you. Remember that it’s not “lazy” of job seekers to walk away from this extra video interview step. Instead, ask yourself: why would a talented candidate put all the work into a video recording without any other interaction or investment from the company?

Don’t let your own hiring strategies push away great candidates. For more on how to create an exceptional candidate experience, check out our video below.

One-way video interviewing alternatives

As someone who’s sorted through pages of applications and spent countless hours setting up and conducting phone screens, only for the majority not to move on to the next step, I see the appeal of these recorded interviews. On the surface, it would be easier. 

But I also know that talking with job seekers, hearing their stories, and sharing our company’s core values not only makes me a better steward of our employment brand, but brings CareerPlug candidates who truly connect to our culture and mission. 

Here are the strategies I use instead in our own hiring at CareerPlug to screen for great candidates early on: 

  • Write accurate and authentic job descriptions that help job seekers understand the impact of the role, our company culture, and the compensation and benefits provided. Sharing this information upfront helps job seekers self-select in or out of applying. 
  • Include pre-screening questions on the application to find out the most important information right away (e.g. knowledge of a coding language or experience in frontline client support).
  • Conduct short phone screens (15-30 minutes) to learn more about experience and culture fit (work environment preferences, what they are looking for in an ideal next role, etc.). Give the candidate time to ask questions. 

Remember, through every stage in the hiring process, think through both what you want to learn about a candidate and what you want them to learn about you. 

And let’s put the one-way video interview trend to bed. 

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