Is Video Screening the Next Big Thing in HR Tech?

The guest blog post by Optimize.
Video Screening
An image from Dean Drobot’s portfolio on Shutterstock

As many companies know, it’s costly to bring candidates to interview, costly in time, and for the candidates themselves to travel to your location; as a result, all efforts should be made to reduce those costs for all involved. If your recruiters or HR managers have to spend hours on the phone conducting phone screening interviews, or worse, have to chase phone calls and emails, that costs money too. There has to be a better way right?

Video Screening is a relatively new process and has been used to successful effect by several companies. 50% of companies who have implemented it have said it has improved their cost to hire significantly.

Screening process through the ages

Gone are the days of walking in an office door, chatting with the manager, and landing the job. In the past, there wasn’t a great deal of need to “screen” candidates as there weren’t such a high volume of applicants per role. There wasn’t as much social mobility so jobs were much more predetermined, and competitiveness – to a small degree – was decreased. Besides, roles themselves were different, so if someone had an accounting degree and you were hiring an accountant, and their references checked out, you were good to go. It was very likely if you had a degree in a certain subject you’d get a job in that area. Now it’s not so simple.

Presently, the job market is much more open and changes of career are commonplace. With a higher volume of (on paper) qualified applicants with secondary and tertiary skills, it means most graduates can quickly train in a wide range of surface level roles rather than an immediate specialism – and their initial skills are less important than how they can learn, think, and grow with a company.

This now dynamic workforce has increased applications to city centre roles and larger corporations. The modern candidate has a wider range of skills on offer and the ability to apply online at many different companies with ease. To deal with higher volumes, and simply to narrow down the candidate pool, an effective screening process becomes necessary. Companies may have dozens, even hundreds of qualified applicants to a role, so how does each candidate distinguish him- or herself from another?

To keep up with demand, companies implemented processes such as phone screening interviews, email exchanges, and informal face to face chats. But these techniques are limited in their effectiveness to see the ‘real’ person – and they are very time consuming. These past processes – chats, phone calls, and so forth – certainly have the benefit of being personable, but when your company hires in large volumes, it no longer has the time. It’s also impossible for larger businesses (high street retailers, for example) or someone like the Post Office to hire for busy, seasonal work – like at Christmas – where they can typically expect to receive thousands of applications, and need to turn the process around in weeks (if they even have that long). Centralisation of the recruitment process – having a set process, quality control, and set standards predetermined for each role – allows a head office to have visibility in the managing of high-volume applications.

In the past, a warehouse manager might have been the one to hire with vastly differing results, which can cause efficiency and staff turnover problems down the line, whilst also limiting head office’s ability to control the quality of their workforce.

The growing need to screen candidates

Hiring has changed drastically over the years because – in the past – people stayed put. It wasn’t uncommon for people to mark their 20th, 30th, or even 40th anniversary with a company, but as the job market has changed with the need for say more tech jobs than ever, hiring processes have needed to evolve to keep up with demand and time constraints. Today’s worker currently stays in a role for between one and two years. This shorter timeline means your company – through no fault of its own – will inevitably see staff turnover as a part of everyday life, and it will subsequently need to hire more people, more often. Processes, thus, need to keep up.

Video Interview
An image by Optimize

The current landscape of video screening

Video screening is still in its infancy – not in the sense that the technology is primitive, but in that it’s relatively new to the scene and many people might not know about it as an option. Many HR managers and recruitment companies do realise that the way they hire now isn’t efficient enough, but they may not know how to remedy that lack of efficiency.

A Monster study revealed that most recruiters spend over 70,000 minutes on the phone each year. With faster turnovers, does your company really have that time? Think of what you pay your HR manager or recruiter per hour and multiply that number by the number of candidates you usually have to screen for each position. That’s the figure it will cost you only to reach the interview stage, which costs more time and money.

Companies who implement video screening find that it reduces time to discover who they want to bring to interview. They can collaborate as a team on which candidates are most suitable to interview. Candidates are no longer simply reduced to the black and white of their CV paper; they can come alive on screen. Their personalities can shine through, and they can take the time to impress you and your hiring team. It’s like those old days of people walking in your offices for a job, but better – because you can decide in front of them without actually being in front of them (you know, because it’s a video)!

The advantages to screening

Once you’ve combed through CVs and shortlisted you candidates – or narrowed them down through them using software, whichever – then you’ll send them the pre-screening questions. You set the questions, set time limits for the answers, and set a deadline, and send them to your shortlist. Candidates will feel like they’re moving forward in the process from the moment they submit their application, but this step is virtually hands free for your company. Questions can be sent out immediately – or after you’ve verified their CV. Video screening is perfect for high volume, decentralised industries such as seasonal warehouse jobs – but also works especially well for customer facing roles as you’ll quickly determine how a candidate’s personality matches your company’s core values or personal preferences.

If hiring for customer service roles, you’ll want to see how well candidates can handle potentially tricky questions on the spot, and video screening is a perfect opportunity for candidates to showcase their ability to think on their feet. You can ask the applicant a troublesome question like how they’d deal with a customer that would like to return an item without a receipt or how they’d handle logging a complaint about a fellow colleague (who is currently off shift)? Keeping the problems agnostic of your company vertical will test the quick thinking and experience of the application. It’s often more about how the candidate delivers an answer than the answer itself.

The big sell with Video Screening is that you will see candidates before they come in – in animation – not in the social stalk kinda way where you have to check out their LinkedIn or Facebook profile pictures before you phone them! Seeing someone in person and viewing how they hold themselves and interact with the questions you set – even if it’s not physically – can help you gauge their suitability. Some could argue that human bias could sway results based on attractiveness alone, but, again, if you need a front-facing position, and you need someone confident and bubbly you can see that on a video interview, looks aside. Besides, companies will do themselves a disservice only hiring those deemed “attractive,” because – at the end of the day – you want people who are good at what they do and are the most qualified for the job outside of attractiveness level.

That sounds great – but is Video Screening really the future?

As mentioned before, processes are clearly not good enough. Just ask anyone who hires large volumes of staff – it’s tough. Many companies turn to some sort of tech whether it’s computer tests or computerised CV combing, but those processes are imperfect and still fail to show you the ‘real’ person behind the CV. You may have someone who can pass computer tests, or put in keywords in white font on their CV, but they aren’t very good in person; they don’t fit with your office culture, or they aren’t confident enough for a front-of-house role. That’s where video screening helps the process along in an innovative way. Sure, for some roles, you may just need that shy guy or girl who can code really well, and maybe for those applications video screening seems less appropriate, but, either way, if your candidate will be in the office, you need to make sure he or she fits in and works well with others (and has a modicum of confidence).

And, let’s face it, videos are everywhere these days! Video is the fastest way to get people’s attention – that’s why YouTube and those Facebook videos are so popular!

Okay, but what about those people who feel uncomfortable with video screening? Will it put applicants off? Is it too edgy and too new to try out? The truth is it may put some applicants off, sure. It may not appeal to older generations, but most candidates are willing to go through the hiring process no matter what it is. Most people have been to group interviews where you spend time building something out of paper with bits of blue tac and string (or some such exercise that is measuring a metric that has nothing to do with what you can build out of paper with ten strangers). Those people may not love that group activity, but if it’s part of your interview process – and they want the job with your company – they’ll endure the task – not that we’re trying to liken video screening to group interviews. Candidates who apply to large retailers often have to undergo computer testing, and they do that too. The point is that the most motivated candidates will be willing to go through the process of video screening even if it’s a little unusual or different for them. Therefore Video Screening works well as a deterrent to those not wholly invested in the role, again improving the efficiency of your process.

Furthermore, younger candidates will especially love this method because they are far more comfortable using a smartphone, taking a selfie, seeing themselves on screen. Enabling the next generation of skilled workers to apply in a way that suits them is going to put your company one step ahead of the competition in 2017 and beyond. Video screening is here to stay. It’s making processes better, faster, and cost-effective, so it’s best to jump on the video bandwagon before you get left behind.


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