Better in person: four ways a virtual interview can hinder the recruitment process

It’s an increasingly more common phenomenon to engage in a virtual job interview in today’s job market; indeed, it’s a fair assumption that many of the readers of this article will have engaged in at least one themselves. Many people have been quick to embrace this new trend, but as with many newer technologies, there’s an argument to be made that the technology still hasn’t caught up with the requirements of businesses. There’s even a case to be made that, particularly in certain industries, virtual job interviews may be having a negative impact.

The question is, when personality, confidence and competence are all of such high importance; are virtual job interviews a viable alternative or replacement for a physical, face to face interview? Until the four issues below are satisfactorily dealt with, our assessment for now would have to be no.

Technical difficulties

One of the central issues with virtual job interviews conducted using Skype or other similar teleconference software, is that the technology can still be very unstable, especially if the internet connection at one or both ends of the interview is particularly slow. There’s nothing more jarring in the middle of an interview than an interruption; concentration is lost, interviewers lose the tack of their questioning, and track of the opinions that they have been forming of the candidate in question. The candidate, in the face of a technical interruption, has more time to panic or second guess themselves, potentially sabotaging their chances of employment before the interview has even concluded.

Ignoring the potential ramifications that a technical mishap could have on the success of a particular interview, they also waste the valuable time of a senior employee; and in high pressure, high stakes industries, this can be a serious problem. Senior members of staff need to be available to assist with any number of potential situations and emergencies, and having to wait for a Skype call to reconnect, or the internet to return to a usable speed, will be wasting large chunks of their valuable time.

Culture block

From the perspective of a candidate, an interview is far from just answering the questions posed to you by a potential future colleague/superior, they’re a chance for the candidate to get a feel for the company they wish to be employed by. Indeed, many people forget that a job interview is a two way street; candidates are often forming their opinion of a business, its workplace, and its workers while their interviewer is attempting to figure them out. It almost goes without saying that this process is considerably more difficult when the candidate is unable to visit the workplace that they are applying to work within.

In industries where you will collaborate with your colleagues multiple times on a daily basis, and where the work environment and atmosphere can potentially be so different from employer to employer, this is an incredibly important part of the interview process for a candidate. Take the healthcare industry for example; the gulf between an inner city hospital and a rural doctor’s surgery is huge, and it’s crucial for a candidate to get a taste of what they are letting themselves in for before they say yes to a job. In some cases, it may also be useful for an interviewer to see a candidate’s reaction to a particular work environment or situation, before they decide on their capability or lack thereof.

Virtual Reality

How many stories have you heard in recent years of people passing themselves off as someone else online? Or of people lying about important personal attributes in order to further their own goals? Digital communication makes deceit that much easier to achieve, and while video conferencing software like Skype does provide interviewers with a live video feed to the candidate, there’s only so much a camera can see, and only so much a microphone can hear. In other words, it’s extremely easy to be misled during a virtual job interview, whether intentionally or accidentally on the part of the candidate.

Intentional deception on the part of the candidate could consist of friends or relatives feeding them answers to difficult questions from off camera, or them finding the answers themselves from a different window during the interview. Indeed, it’s not unheard of for a connection to mysteriously become ‘unstable’ just after a difficult question, only for a candidate to respond with an excellent answer after previously seeming utterly stumped!

More distractions

As anyone who has, or currently does, work from home will attest, the desire to procrastinate can often be over powering. Indeed, with the absence of co-worker and management oversight, and a long solitary day stretching out in front of you, the temptation really can undermine an otherwise productive day. A virtual job interview follows the same principle; candidates may be very easily sidetracked by the plethora of digital distractions on offer.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is being unprofessional; while websites like Facebook and Twitter are certainly capable of ensnaring wandering minds, a candidate is just as likely to be distracted by work related emails, or other important professional communiqués. In essence, the removal of the interview from a professional environment invites a cavalcade of potential distractions to candidates, and they need not necessarily be digital; housemates, family members and pets can all easily distract a candidate in the midst of answering a particularly thorny question. With this in mind, expecting a candidate to perform to the best of their potential under the conditions of a virtual job interview may well be too large an expectation!

For more careers advice in the health career industry, take a look at; specialists in healthcare recruitments.

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