For the Candidate, video interviews initially seem a real godsend. From the comfort of your home, without the stressful and costly journey to the firm’s office, you can control the environment and undertake the interview under pressurising conditions. You can even “attend” multiple interviews in one day, or perhaps nip out during a lunch break and do the interview from your car if you are at the office. Essentially, the convenience of the video interview makes the process feel less, taxing, another benefit of video calls is that traffic, or extreme weather such as snow, will not cause you to miss your interview!
However, the convenience of video interviews is negated by other stresses. For example, technical difficulties, lag, noisy and cluttered backgrounds and lighting difficulties. These issues, unique to video calls, can lead to perceived unprofessionalism, potentially costing that candidate the role.
Another issue is whether the candidate can make the most of the interview. The traditional interview is more than just a conversation. It is seeing the office and experiencing its culture, meeting the receptionist, holding the door for potential future colleagues and doing a trial run of the commute. You don’t get this added “feel” through a video interview.
For this reason, some use the video interview as a first-stage interview, with a second meeting in person afterwards. If this is the case, then the benefit of the video interview being used to streamline the process starts to fade away.
The Law Firm
Similarly to the candidate, the convenience of being able to do the interview from home is ostensibly appealing. So too is the ability to undertake the meeting with colleagues from different offices who need not congregate at the same site. You can even have colleagues participate in the hiring process who would have never ordinarily been able to. In this way, video calls can be seen a step towards a futuristic and collaborative way of working,
However, do logistical benefits override other considerations? Taking on a new member of the team is a big investment. Thus, clients will be conscious of making the right decisions more so than ever before, especially given the financial impact of COVID-19. To make the right decision clients want to really know the candidate. This is harder to achieve over video call. It is harder to make eye contact, as we tend to look at ourselves or the other participants in the call instead of looking directly at the camera. The majority of human communication is non-verbal, and these signals are much harder to perceive over video platforms. Moreover, it is becoming apparent that clients and candidates rate each other more positively when meeting face-to-face.
From experience, it seems to be the candidate who opts for the video call. This isn’t surprising as the natural tendency of the candidate will be to avoid the stressful interview cauldron, whereas the preference of the client will be to see their “investment” in person, to get a better gauge of them.
The Recruitment Consultant
Our goal is to achieve the perfect match for candidates and clients. We want the candidate to show their potential to excel at the firm and we want the client to be thoroughly impressed by the skills and attributes of the candidate. As an extraneous goal, we also want the hiring process to be conducted in an efficient and effective manner for all parties.
For efficiency in the hiring process, we can see the allure of the video call. We have managed to arrange interviews and get to offer stage in a matter of days facilitated through video calls. However, we have also seen many clients start to crave the traditional interview setting, and they have gone above and beyond to put social distancing measures in place to facilitate this. This isn’t surprising given clients’ general preference to meet candidates face to face. By contrast, we have seen a reluctance from candidates to meet face to face. Whether this is due to COVID concerns, or other factors such as preferring the convenience of the video call, the jury is still out. Part of our role then becomes addressing the concerns of both parties and pressing ahead with a meeting, virtual or not.
If COVID cases continue to rise in the new year, video interviews will likely remain the norm. However, as things return to normality, video interviews will likely be the exception, not the rule. Despite their convenience, clients’ preference for in-person interviews will most likely dominate, as they are the superior party in this relationship. And yet, as firms become more forward- thinking, having experienced the streamlined nature of video interviews, it is unlikely they will completely turn their backs on them.