Video interviewing offers many advantages, as long as you implement a coherent recruiting strategy.
By Kurt Heikkinen
The promise of video interviewing technology intrigued people in the recruiting business long before Yale student Aleksey Vayner’s infamous “Impossible Is Nothing” video resume went viral a few years ago and raised awareness (both good and bad) among job seekers everywhere.
This marriage of video and the CV continues to interest the industry today. But while many job seekers have embraced the approach and experimented with a variety of options—from YouTube to Facebook to Skype—many businesses are still sitting on the sidelines, unsure how to capitalize on the vast potential of video interviewing. As popular as video is, it creates a challenge for business: How to take control of the process and implement a solution that saves time and adds value without creating additional headaches and a compliance conundrum.
A huge time and cost saver throughout the interview process, video can be cumbersome when introduced without necessary controls. If not managed correctly, it can bog down the process, requiring more time than the traditional resume review while adding an additional layer of risk and liability. Those businesses that jump in feet-first by inviting candidates to submit videos and trying to use Skype and online meeting capabilities to conduct interviews usually find that a disorganized, un-integrated approach to incorporating video into their candidate review process is more trouble than it’s worth.
(One qualification: for small businesses that are only interviewing a few candidates for the occasional open position, Skype might be fine. But for companies that have ongoing needs, multiple positions to fill, and a collaborative hiring process, such a solution all by itself falls short.)
According to their November 2009 report entitled “Video-Enabled Talent Acquisition: Improving Cost, Quality, and Satisfaction,” Aberdeen warns that “just adopting video-enabled talent acquisition tools is not the sole answer to improving key talent acquisition metrics. But when these tools are adopted as part of a cohesive recruiting strategy, they can greatly improve key results and metrics that your organization uses to judge the efficacy and success of its talent acquisition efforts.”
Defining the Demand: Industry Trends and Business Challenges
Any employer you speak with today is confronted by a common pair of challenges in executing talent acquisition strategy: a shortage of skilled workers due to a meager talent pool, and overwhelmed HR professionals.
Skilled Workforce Shortage—Mining a Mismatched Talent Pool. While the recession has masked the skilled labor shortage, it still exists today and poses long-term problems. Before the recession, about two-thirds of companies found it difficult to fill positions. Now, one-third are still having trouble, despite a wide pool of available applicants. Although the talent pool has increased, more job seekers are undereducated or have the wrong skills for today’s job market. While the national unemployment rate in August 2010 was 9.6 percent, for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher it was only 4.4 percent. “In a good economy,” according to an April 2010 white paper by Manpower Business Solutions, “it is challenging to find qualified candidates, but it can actually be even harder when economic conditions worsen and the number of people out of work increases. For recruiters and hiring managers, this translates to an increased volume of candidates and ‘mismatched’ talent to review and screen in order to find those ‘right fit’ candidates.”
Stressed Talent Acquisition and HR. During the past three years, the size of HR has shrunk by 30 percent. At the same time, recruiters have been asked to do more with less, and the process has become more complex. The complexities and challenges further increase as hiring teams are globally distributed, positions are more specialized, the applicant pool is larger, and the available talent pool possesses an inferior or mismatched talent set. More frequently, the resources are coming from outside the local market, creating greater complexity. Today’s hiring teams need a solution to drive greater efficiency so that they can fast-track the right talent quicker through the hiring process.
The maximum ROI of video comes from the integration and management of an end-to-end approach that can enhance an organization’s talent acquisition process. This includes a comprehensive set of capabilities (such as on-demand candidate video responses, work examples and job artifacts, workflow automation, notifications, live one-on-one and panel interviewing, candidate tracking, scheduling, recording, and archiving) integrated with such critical recruiting tools as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and talent management applications. Organizations using a comprehensive set of video-enabled applications can expect to realize a cost savings of 50 percent or more in travel-related recruiting and interviewing costs. For recruiters and hiring teams, a 20-to-30 percent efficiency gain is typically achieved.
Aberdeen explains that, “it is not enough to simply use video or web conferencing technology to conduct an interview. True video-enabled talent acquisition must be synchronized with the forward looking strategy of the organization, supported by company executives and designed to target the top sources of candidates while providing hiring managers a voice in the process. Solutions that allow interviews to be indexed, tagged with manager feedback, and integrated into a broader talent acquisition strategy, including tools like an applicant tracking system (ATS) or candidate relationship management solution, will have the greatest correlation to top recruiting results.”
Shortcomings of Video C.V.s
An unmanaged video process is a double-edged sword. It’s a waste of time for the hiring team, and it can do a disservice to the candidate struggling to land a much-needed job. Often, video resumes fall short of delivering value to the hiring team. Without guidance and a structure to follow, candidates can actually diminish their chances of being hired, and huge opportunities are lost in terms of time and cost savings associated with video interviewing. Video resumes and Skype often have common deficiencies:
• Recorded on-demand and live interviewing;
• Collaboration tools allowing hiring teams to review, evaluate, forward, shortlist, schedule, and document;
• Candidate and client privacy and security;
• Client branding and configuration;
• Candidate tracking and reporting;
• Live Panel (one to many) interviews including the entire hiring team;
• Integration to other company applications such as their applicant tracking system, vendor management system or talent management systems;
• Ease of storage, retrieval, use, and archiving; and
•End-user and candidate support.
Conquering Compliance Demons
Another consideration for any company contemplating video is compliance. The talent acquisition process must meet very specific requirements from a security, privacy, EEOC and OFCCP standpoint. Video resumes make many companies uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.
The greatest concern is a discrimination lawsuit—they’re worried that video resumes will invite grievances from candidates who could claim bias based on race, gender, or age. A lesser, but not insignificant, concern is the added video storage nuisance created by the requirement that organizations keep a record of every resume they receive. By partnering with a company that specializes in integrating their video-enabled technology into existing processes, companies can be assured that the time they spend reviewing candidate video profiles and conducting live video interviews is productive and litigation-free.
An overlooked benefit of a thoughtful and strategic approach to applying video is the employment branding component and what that means for the candidate. According to
Aberdeen, “the concept of ‘fit’ is powerful when it comes to recruiting and building a talent pipeline. Hiring managers agree that there is no substitute for that intangible ingredient of ‘fit’ or chemistry that becomes apparent when you meet a candidate face to face, when they can really get a sense of the culture of the organization where they will be working.”
The most important use of Web 2.0 tools in recruiting that was cited by respondents to Aberdeen’s June 2009 “HR Executive’s Guide to Web 2.0: Cracking the Code for Talent Management” study was giving potential candidates a sense of your organizational culture. However, in the interests of saving money and managerial time, this is often one of the later steps in a hiring process. Companies using a branded video-enabled solution can convey a more innovative, progressive image to the talent pool, especially the hard-to-secure new college grads, engineers, IT professionals, or sales executives. The result is enhanced engagement throughout the process and the ability to attract and secure top talent.
Ultimately, whether video helps or hinders is up to your organization. Used as part of a business’s integrated talent acquisition process, video can provide a multi-pronged solution, delivering such significant quantitative and qualitative benefits as cost reduction, expanded talent pools, time savings, corporate fit, employee longevity, and employer branding. Recruiting top talent will always be a challenge for organizations, but as companies look for new ways to expand their talent pools while delivering high-quality candidates, video-enabled talent acquisition is an important part of the equation.
Kurt Heikkinen is the president and CEO of Expressume. He can be reached at