I read recently an article on Forbes.com entitled, “A New Recruiting Abomination: One-Way Video Interviews” by Liz Ryan, founder of Human Workplace. Obviously as the title suggests, she is not impressed by this growing recruiting technology. Here are a few quotes.
“It is disheartening to me as a long-time HR person to see how badly some HR and Staffing folks damage and degrade the recruiting function by building in talent-repelling processes like one-way video interviewing.”
“The emergence of one-way video job interviews in recruiting speaks to incompetence at a high level…”
“Great candidates will not stick around to be treated like dirt — nor should they!”
“Making your job applicants sit in front of their laptops smiling at the camera and answering questions asked by a machine is the loudest possible sign that your company does not value talent in the least.”
“There is no better way to signal to talented candidates ‘You mean nothing to us’ than by assigning them to sit through an oral exam led by a piece of code…”
I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Ms. Ryan sees little if any value in one-way video interviews. Before I begin my defense I want to make known that I work for a video interviewing vendor and as a former search consultant have used with great success one-way video interviews in the past. Here are a few experiences I would like to share where video interviews have helped candidates.
An individual applied to a position and he was rejected by the employer because his resume indicated he was in a particular age bracket. The search consultant had the candidate complete a recorded one-way interview which he then sent to the hiring manager. The candidate was brought in for an interview after the hiring manager saw the candidate’s charisma and energy level.
An unemployed college student completed a mock interview and emailed it to employers. She received an offer without even going in for a face to face interview.
A candidate working on an oil rig in the North Sea was able to get an interview with a company operating in Romania after I (sitting in Virginia) forwarded a link of the candidate’s recorded interview to the VP of HR in Romania. This happened because the video interview allowed everyone to work on their own schedule when convenient for them.
I sat in a board room with a company President and VP of HR. On their monitor we were reviewing the video interviews of five candidates. The fifth candidate, who had conducted his interview at 1 a.m, the only time convenient for him, so dazzled the president that the president called him on the spot and offered him a job!
As a video interviewing provider we in no way advocate using automated interviews to replace the face-to-face interview. Rather we suggest using video interviewing as a screening measure, superior to phone screening, which allows recruiters to better evaluate candidates with a structured interviewing process that better eliminates subconscious biases which creep into unstructured live interviews. The candidate is better served, not only because they may complete the interview at their convenience, but also their recorded interview can be evaluated repeatedly and shared with decision makers so a more informed evaluation can be given. Candidates, especially top talent, are severely inconvenienced by a phone screening process that relies upon note taking and which provides an inadequate device to make a true apples to apples comparison between subjects.
Not too surprisingly the Aberdeen Group’s research into video interviewing shows that among best-in-class companies which employ such technology, hiring manager satisfaction has improved while time to hire and cost to fill has decreased.
In short, video interviewing was not designed to be abominable to candidates but rather to free them from inconvenience and discrimination.
A recent study of 15,000 leaders from 300+ organizations across eighteen countries by Development Dimensions International revealed that the conversational skill that has the highest impact on overall performance was empathy. Empathy however is in decline according to Richard Wellins, one of the authors of DDI’s report. He pointed to a University of Michigan study of college students which showed a 34-48% decline in empathy over an eight year period.
One reason proposed for this decline is our mobile world. People are increasingly engaging with people in such brief moments of time that the empathic skill is seldom practiced. In her book, “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World”, child psychologist, Michele Borba concurs. She suggests that as a result of technology, “Self-promotion, personal branding, and self-interest at the exclusion of others’ feelings, needs and concerns is permeating our culture and slowly eroding our children’s character.”
The DDI report also points out that managers spend more time managing than interacting thus limiting their ability to maintain and hone their empathic skills. According to their study, only 40% of frontline leaders tested either proficient or strong on empathy.
Why is empathy such a valued trait? For starters customers want to be heard and empathizing with your customers’ needs will help sellers determine what they want. Additionally empathy helps businesses understand cultural differences when operating in diverse global markets. In many companies collaboration is essential for success and empathy helps to not only foster relationships but also influences our power of persuasion.
The importance of empathy is further confirmed in a study out of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. A three year study of business leaders in the U.S. and other countries identified five attributes that executives must have to succeed in today’s global economy. Of the five, adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity and empathy, empathy rated highest.
DDI’s study showed that in terms of relation to job performance, empathy had the greatest impact on engaging with employees, coaching them and their overall performance. Ray Krznaric, the author of Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It explains, “Empathy in the modern workplace is not just about being able to see things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of teamwork, good innovative design, and smart leadership. It’s about helping others feel heard and understood.”
So if you are reading this post right now on your phone and ignoring the person speaking with you, set it down, look into the eyes of your friend/colleague and show them they matter!