The death of the traditional first interview?

…Well not quite yet, however the manner and way in which we conduct the 1st interview will change. I know it’s changing in the organisation I work in. You see I am lucky as I work in a technology and solutions business where two of their core values are ‘innovation’ and ‘flexibility’. I also have a very open-minded boss who, like me, is constantly looking at the way we do things to see if there is a better way. What this means is that I get the opportunity to really think about the recruitment process that is deployed through my team of ‘In-Houser’s’ into the business and this is where my latest idea has taken shape.

So then let me set the scene. You are a Head of Sales and you primarily base yourself in the south. You have a team of Account Managers based across the UK.  . Monday morning arrives with a ‘white envelope’ moment; your top Account Manager from the north has resigned. You’ll be a team member down and you’ve got to find a replacement and quick. After the calls, emails and meetings with your recruitment team and of course your newly acquired best friend/stalker the recruitment consultant, you finally draw up a not-so-shortlist of eight CV’s (the agency has insisted that every one of the CV’s is a perfect fit). You instruct HR to line up five face-to-face interviews ASAP in the north. HR somehow gets three names booked in to see you in two days’ time. Now the travel. Rail…. How much?! Ah well, needs must! The day of interviews arrives with you on the train when the phone rings… hey presto – one candidate has pulled out. Never mind, with the agencies promise of amazing in your head, you step into reception to greet the candidate and there they are….the candidate from hell. You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but this is a sales person who needs to make an impression. How did it come to this?

We recently tried ‘video interviewing’. This is not a Skype; it’s better. All you and your candidate need is a PC/laptop and webcam and for you as the Manager, to do five 1st stage interviews, about two hours of your time. What could be easier? Let me explain. Firstly you design five questions that will assess the behaviours of your candidates along with a couple of competency questions too if you want. Let’s face it you’ll know after 15 minutes worth of answers if they’re the real deal. The best thing is that the candidate does it in their own time and then you get to watch the recorded result in your own time. OK, it’s not right for every single role, but I know from experience that the time and money that’s wasted on interviews that should never have taken place, especially at a senior level, could have been spent in a better way. What does the candidate get out of this? Well most the 1st interviews will be at a time when they have no way of getting out of work in the middle of the day, so they do it from home. Also, when the question pops up on screen, they get time to think about their answer before they hit ‘record’ and deliver it to you. Now it’s not fool proof, but it certainly would help you avoid that awkward, feeble handshake in reception when you quickly calculate which questions to drop out of your interview to make it the shortest one in history.

So in terms of results we’re still assessing it, but everyone who’s used the technology so far has liked it. We’ve just made offers to two candidates that we put through their video paces and they both initially said they were a little unsure about it (we introduced eight to the video process). As for the Manager, well he loves it as he got to interview eight candidates in just under three hours on a Sunday morning in his study at home. Now isn’t that better than the old-fashioned alternative?

About colincrowley2012

Group Recruitment Manager at Kcom, a specialist in in-house recruitment manager within the telecoms and IT market.
This entry was posted in General Recruitment Thoughts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The death of the traditional first interview?

  1. Hi Colin, great article I’ve heard similar success stories from other companies using the same video technology as you. A few reported some specific challenges with adopting video interviewing in terms of candidates appearing a bit uncomfortable. Being in the technology space itself I imagine makes the candidate more comfortable with the concept.

  2. Great article and I’m pleased to see that I am not alone in recognising the advantages of these types of online video tools. I particularly like Sonru, easy to share, great intro and easy to use for the candidates.

    Other really good elements of this is that of course you see how the candidate responds under pressure. A really interesting question to ask is something along the lines of “Explain to me how you perform under pressure when you are against the clock?” Then actually reduce the timer on the question to about 30 secs, it is interesting to see how many actual spot the reduced time and respond accordingly.

    For first time users of this as a screening tool don’t forget to provide a reasonable introduction to the process and the reason why you use it as a company. Also try and make the first question rather light or informal almost, allow the candidate to settle down a little and relax.

    It is a great tool if used correctly. You have to try and give the candidate an opportunity to show some personality and some humour.

    Excellent when you need to influence decision makers in different geographical locations.

    Our process in using this for Sales / BD hires is basically:

    Telephone Screening Interview
    Video Interview
    2nd Interview with some form of presentation / role play scenario
    Final Interview for potential offer candidate

    • Hi Darren

      Thank you for your kind words. Great to hear that this kind of technology is being used out there.

      For me the pro’s well and truly outweigh the cons. One of my team presented to a group of HR professionals in London on Tuesday evening and the Q&A sessions was very interesting. One of the questions was, do you think that this kind of process encourages you to discriminate based on appearance? The answer to that was quite simply that if someone is going to discriminate this way then they will do it face-to-face anyway. Another point was made that if you send 10 invites out and one of them lives out in the sticks with poor broadband connection what provisions would you make? I guess the answer to that would be that in the UK now, nearly everyone has access to broadband – even if it’s not their own and with the introduction of video interview apps on phones and 4G and UK-wide 3G, surely that will happen less and less?

    • Thanks for you reblog Jean-Paul!

      • No problem, I would also say on the discrimination front, that video interviewing arguably provides more of an ‘audit trail’ in the interview process. So if a specific line manager were to be discriminating based on appearance (especially on ethnicity) it would be more obvious if say, a candidate was interviewing very well, but simply being rejected without a suitable reason.

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