Video Interviewing: Only The Good Looking Need Apply?


There’s a new trend in recruiting. Video interviewing.

The process is meant to save time and money. Candidates are asked a series of standardized questions. The answers are recorded. The video is stored in a way that meets federal guidelines. Managers and teams can refer back to the videos to actually hear — in a documented way — what candidates actually said during the interviews.

There is standardization, speed, and a relatively easy technology platform.

I kinda like it for non-exempt jobs, hourly workers, and even internships. Executive recruiters will often use video chat at a secondary location — a law firm, a Kinkos — to screen candidates. A webcam and a simple technology platform would work for those firms, too. And in cases where a sketchy hiring decision is made or a person is passed over for a job, the onus is on the employer to pull out the tape and justify the selection criteria and hiring process.

I do worry about the aesthetics of the process. Some people don’t look good on camera. Most of us have poor lighting in our home offices. Very few people know how to speak to a computer screen. Without practice and a decent source of light in the room, a candidate could look like a zombie. And communicating through a webcam is a different experience than speaking to a human being. It’s tough enough to convey likability — the number one factor in hiring someone — in a real interview. And without body language and immediate non-verbal feedback from an interviewer, it’s tough to know how you are doing.

Maybe that’s the point.

I do think video interviewing is about to bust wide open. I can feel it. My HR peeps are talking about it. Asking for my opinion. Wondering if it’s worth trying out. I say yes — but remember that we overstate how much we hire people based on content, work history, and competency. Data shows that we tend to hire the prettiest, handsomest, tallest, and thinnest candidates. When using video interviewing as a screening tool, there may be people who are great on camera but disappoint when it comes to substance and work history. And there may be awesome candidates who mumble their way through a video interview, look ugly as hell on camera, and have a dog barking in the background.

Don’t get too caught up in the aesthetics — and never underestimate the importance of good lighting in all circumstances, including video interviewing.

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