Your Business: The Video Interview Alternative

April 7, 2020
Telecommuting and quarantines mean a shift in job interview techniques
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag!

While the coronavirus has drastically impacted business operations, it does not necessarily have to impact a security integrator’s employment interview process.

Interview practices have come a long way over the last few years, and with it has come the huge benefit of video interviews. In a climate where most job candidates – and many HR professionals – are being encouraged to telecommute from home to avoid exposure to COVID-19, video interviews become a major benefit. The flip side is that video interviews that are not well set up can create even more anxiety and a poor candidate experience.

A simple way to mitigate this risk is to put some guard-rails around your video (and phone) interviewing practices – this will improve the experience and make sure you are not missing out on great talent for your organization. Many of the high-cost platforms now include some of these practices, but it does not mean you cannot build your own success practices with a lower cost option. The key is keeping the candidate experience front and center.

Getting Started

Since most people carry a mobile phone with a decent camera, or have access to a laptop or tablet with a camera embedded, the hardware portion of the video interview equation is solved. From there, video interviews require the proper set up and expectation setting for the candidate.

One way to maximize the experience for both interviewer and prospective employee is to share a checklist to help candidates prepare and know exactly what to expect. It could include the following:

  • The type of questions that will be asked;
  • The process interviewees can expect as they move through the questions; and
  • The follow up that can be expected after the interview.

With these expectations set, candidates will not be surprised, and this helps most people prepare to focus on the questions, not the medium of the interview. There are two methods/styles of video interview to consider – two-way live interviews and pre-recorded.

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a have a responsibility to respond after the interview. A personalized email, phone call or video message sent via weblink are all ways to accomplish this. Convey that you appreciate their effort and interest in your company and that you do not want them walking away feeling that they jumped through hoops and got no response. This can impact your employer brand that is so important to your ability to attract top talent.  

Two-Way Live Interviews

The two-way live video interview method is more approachable and more accepted by most people. It involves the recruiter or hiring manager joining a live video session at the same time as the candidate. The interaction is in real-time, making it feel very similar to an in-person interview.

We have all been on personal and professional video calls that waste the first few minutes with set-up, featuring phrases like “I can’t hear you” or “What is that in the background?” – so make sure you are in a place with good lighting and minimal background noise; and that you test audio and video before the interview begins.  

With proper expectation setting, your video interviews can be very productive, and quite smooth. Having someone to interact with live enables non-verbal communication to take place, as well as real-time feedback and the opportunity to ask questions – staples of employment interviews for a long time and something that most prospective employees are comfortable with, even if they are not used to being on video.

This type of video interview can be helpful as an initial screen to get a better sense of a candidate, or as a way to get through first-round interviews.

Two more tips to help set candidates up for success for this specific type of interview:

  • Coach the candidate to think about their answers, even if it creates a pause. Let them know it will not be awkward at all;
  • Let the candidate know if you have multiple people joining the call, in the case of online panel-style interviews.

Pre-Recorded Interviews

Pre-recorded video interviews are newer and rapidly growing in popularity; however, they can produce a very polarizing reaction for candidates. This type of interview is not as popular with candidates because you are not offering an engaging conversation, but rather the candidate sees a question within the portal and then their responses are recorded (and sometimes timed). The video is then sent back to the company for review and assessment.

While the tips offered previously to set up for two-way live interviews still apply, there are some additional tips and expectations that should be set with candidates in advance this pre-recorded video interview style:  

  • Set the stage to make it clear that there is no live interaction and that the questions will be provided during the interview and cannot be re-recorded;
  • Keep the questions specific so clarification is not likely needed;
  • Be clear about the timelines and do not expect candidates to record in the same day you reach out to them, nor should they expect your follow up the day they submit their video;
  • Send your own video message to kick things off so there is a real person explaining that the recording is timed, but it is not a test.

This type of video interview is helpful for a position that will produce a lot of candidates – for example, hiring for a call center or home-based roles. It will give you a faster way to select the candidates you want to move ahead because you do not need to watch all the questions.

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. For more information, visit: