A Second Look at the One-Way Interview

Recruiting and technology can be a dreadful combination if personal touch is sacrificed for the sake of streamlining processes (think: being caught in automated phone system hell).

I recently spoke with a Digital & Social Media Strategist with a graduate degree in Communications Management. He is an active job seeker, interviewing for roles in Social Media and Branding. After applying for a position with an international Sports & Entertainment brand, he was excited to receive an email indicating his resume was adequately qualified to take him to the next step - the video interview.

While he was initially excited about the idea of utilizing technology in the hiring process, he quickly learned that technological processes do not always serve as a suitable stand in for a person. Ever try to have an intelligible conversation with Cleverbot?

I found the candidate’s feedback insightful, and with his permission, am sharing the highlights of what went wrong with his video interview.

Describe the process:

  • Questions would flash on the screen and I was given 30 seconds to read the question (sometimes multiple part questions) and prepare my answer.
  • After 30 seconds the camera would automatically start recording. I had three minutes to respond to the question.
  • I wasn't given the option to re-record my answers, but would have loved to have that option. It also would have been nice to of had more time on the multiple part questions.

What benefits did the video interview provide you as a candidate, if any?

  • I was able to take breaks between questions. This was the only benefit.

What would you change about the process to give it more of a human touch?

  • Revamp the interview process to be more effective. I did not see this as an effective way for me to learn anything about the company and I was not given the opportunity to ask questions about the position/company.
  • This format was too one sided. I think that a Skype live interview would have been more effective...the Skype conversation could be recorded and send it to others in the company for review.      
  • I'm a person that likes to have dialogue in an interview, and instead felt like I was on a game show.

Any final thoughts or takeaways?

  • I understand that video interviewing is a great way to give an objective interview and evaluate the interview without investing a lot of time and resources but it's almost insulting to the interviewee if [the company] is not willing to try and get to know the candidate.
  • Sure, it's a first round interview but it's also the first interaction between the company and candidate. I had hoped

    for a more personal touch.

Video Interviewing:One Way, Two Way, No Way

Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers notes there are 2 types of video interviews - a one way interview, as described above, and a two way interview.

“One-way interviews pre-screen candidates by having them respond to pre-set questions without a recruiter on the other end,” and in a two-way interview, candidates typically speak in live time via video conference with a recruiter or hiring manager. (Source)

Does anyone else see the irony in making this pivotal introduction to a company a one-way street? In my opinion, a one way anything - whether road or conversation - can be downright rigid and frustrating. Unless one way communication is a true reflection of the company’s culture, a flat, automated video interview with a stellar candidate could leave a poor first impression.

The idea of reading a question and timing a well crafted 2-minute response on the spot made me think of recording an outgoing voice message at a new job. How many takes and re-takes do you typically go through to ensure you are 100% satisfied with a 7-10 second sound byte?

Interestingly, one of the primary benefits of video interviewing is that it helps companies save time. Talking to people and assessing their ability to do the job are key components of what we offer as recruiters. So in the process of streamlining our daily calendars, why are we attempting to zip past the most critical pieces of our contributions – connecting, probing, and evaluating talent? I would be much more inclined to streamline the more administrative tasks and automate interview scheduling, follow up correspondence and social media - than to eliminate the front-end introductory conversation.

First impressions still mean a lot and "even in this [tough] economy, top candidates remain selective of the companies they choose to work for." (Source) There’s just something about the quirkiness that makes up each of our personalities that lends itself to establishing rapport over the phone or face-to-face. Technology as an enhancement in the recruiting process is a brilliant tool, but as a substitute for human touch? Not so much.

What's next - the first date via video?

For More on the Topic:

Three Reasons Candidates Love Video Interviews

Advantages of Video Interviewing

Why Personal Touch is Key to Recruiting (From a collegiate sports perspective)


Maisha Cannon is a Senior Recruiter and Researcher committed to introducing employers to talent that will enhance and grow their businesses. Over the span of her 15 year career in Human Resources, Maisha has filled over 1,000 positions, and has coached hundreds of candidates on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career planning. She spends her free time blogging, engrossed in social media, and singing along to the thousands of songs in her iPod.

Views: 1873

Comment by Tim Spagnola on July 17, 2012 at 7:42am

Good post Maisha- thanks for sharing.

Comment by Maisha Cannon on July 17, 2012 at 5:46pm

My pleasure, Tim. Thanks for reading!


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