A guide for fast-growing small-medium businesses
This guide will cover:
- Why relying on resumés alone to screen candidates is a bad idea, and how video interviews can help
- What criteria to use when choosing a video interview provider
- At what stage in the recruitment process you should use video interviews
- How to communicate with candidates about a video interview
- What to ask and how many questions to use
- Tips for how to score a video interview
You’ve put the job ad up? Check. You’ve received lots of applications? Check. Now you’re stuck trying to pick 5-6 candidates to interview based on all these words on a few pieces of paper. Let’s face it: resumés suck for everyone:
- Resumés are a nightmare for recruiters and hiring managers – you have to try and figure out if a candidate can do the job and will be a good culture fit based on all these differently formatted documents. Some are 2 pages long. Some are 10 pages. Some have fancy graphics. Others are plain text. And you’ve got tons of these documents to work through…meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Augh!
- Hands-up if you’re a job-seeker and you enjoy putting a resumé together? Nobody? Really!? Actually, that’s not at all surprising. Writing resumés is a pretty painful exercise in and of itself, but then try tailoring it to suit every application just so you can successfully pass through the gauntlet of various applicant tracking systems…and all this before you’ve even got a foot in the door! It can be very hard to successfully sell yourself and differentiate for a role in this way.
Resumés seem to be a necessary evil. We need a uniform method for people to apply, but we also need a better way for people to be able to sell themselves for a role.
Video Interviews Are Here to Help You
For the purpose of this guide, we are talking about asynchronous, or one-way video interviews. This typically involves a candidate clicking on a link and answering a selection of pre-written questions in their own time. These video responses are recorded and then sent to you to review. We’re not talking about two-way video interviews (you know, the kind where you spend 15 minutes getting it to work, then the connection keeps dropping out, so you miss one in every ten sentences because everything is out of sync…).
Why do video interviews rock?
- The person beyond the piece of paper: Video interviews allow people to show themselves as they really are and better enable you to explore a candidate’s culture fit/add. As the saying goes “if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million”.
- Hiring managers love them: For a hiring manager, reviewing videos is so much easier, and more enjoyable, than reading through stacks of resumés. Through my experience working with a wide range of clients on various campaigns, I have found that hiring managers consistently rate video interviews very highly.
- Greater opportunity: Video interviews allow you to give more people a chance. For example, instead of just selecting 5-6 people to interview (based on time constraints), you can send 15 candidates through to video interview, and then pick the best 5-6 from here. Adding in a video stage of the interview process allows you to progress more candidates, and thus remain more open-minded when deciding who to screen in.
Sounds too good to be true…any catches?
One thing you’ll notice when you implement video interviews is that not everyone you progress to this stage will go through with completing the video interview. Some level of drop-off is inevitable. There are, however, several things you can do to minimise drop-off, including how you communicate the process to candidates and how you design the questions (amongst other things). This guide will cover all these areas.
So, when it comes to implementing video interviews there are a few big items to consider.
Which provider to choose?
There are a ton of providers out there, so how do you choose which one will be right for you? You could put the names in a hat and randomly pick one, but chances are you’ll end up with something you don’t want. The following criteria are based on the implementation of video interviews for ongoing recruitment (not just a one-time project). For ongoing recruitment, you ideally want the following features:
- Monthly or annual billing, not priced per video interview: Pricing per video disincentivises you from using the process properly. The whole idea of using video interviews is to give as many candidates as possible a chance, so you don’t place an over-reliance on the resumé. If you have to pay per video, then you’ll be more cautious with how you use it.
- Good candidate experience: The video interview process needs to be as easy as possible to use. You will get some candidate drop-off using video interview, but you will get drastically more drop-off if it’s a shonky experience. The best way to assess the candidate experience is to go through and complete a video interview yourself. This will enable you to see what it’s like for a potential candidate. Not only will this help you assess the user experience, but it will also show you that doing a video interview isn’t always an easy thing to do! This will give you some much-needed empathy when it comes to scoring the videos as a hiring manager.
- Easy sharing and collaboration between hiring managers: One of the biggest benefits to using video interview is that it makes hiring a more collaborative process. Rather than hiring based on just one person’s perceptions, you can benefit from full team input. The platform you choose needs to enable this, not make it difficult.
At what point in the hiring process should I use video interviews?
Definitely don’t use them after you’ve already met the person face-to-face for a real-life interview. It will not only confuse the candidate, but it will also confuse you. You’ll be left trying to figure out why the calm and relaxed person you met two days ago all of a sudden appears nervous and fidgety (hint: it’s because they think it’s really weird that you’re asking for a video interview after already meeting them). Video interviews are a fantastic screening tool, so you should use them early in the recruitment process.
As a general rule of thumb, you want as many candidates as possible to complete a video interview. By doing this, you’re giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve seen many candidates who only look 50/50 on paper shine when given the chance to complete a video interview. This is because, that's right you've guessed it, resumés suck at helping people sell themselves!
For volume roles where you will receive a large number of applications, I’d recommend video interviews as an immediate next step for anyone who passes the resumé/application screening process (bonus points if, rather than a resumé screen, you use a dedicated and specialised screening tool that goes beyond years of experience and looks at culture fit and/or personal attributes).
For more senior roles, where you’ll receive a more moderate amount of applications, I recommend video interviews after completing a brief phone screen. This gives you a chance to personalise the process, but also explain why you’re using video interviews. Candidates for more senior-level roles will sometimes resist a video interview – they may try to get around it by requesting a face-to-face meeting instead. For start-ups/scale-ups this is a big red flag for me. So much about life in a fast-growing business is about embracing ambiguity and getting sh!t done, even if it’s uncomfortable. If you can’t deal with a video interview, how are you going to be able to deal with an ever-changing business environment? I have also generally found that people who want a role will embrace the opportunity to paint a picture of themselves beyond their resumé.
For very senior/niche roles where you won’t get a huge amount of applications, there is no real need to use video interviews. Take the time and meet with candidates personally (it will be worth it in the long run).
How should I communicate to candidates why we use video interviews?
As I’ve already mentioned, you will get some candidate drop-off with video interviews. Not everyone you send the link to will take the time to complete a video. I consider this a great natural screening tool; the ones who can’t be bothered completing a video generally aren’t too invested in the company/role in the first place.
The key is to do your part – make sure your communications are clear, and that you’ve created an attractive proposition through your job adverts (and other means). Give people a reason to complete the video! If the job advert is poor, you don’t have a good website or you haven’t sold the company/role, then people won’t bother investing the necessary time to complete a video interview.
In your communications, make sure you talk about why you are using video (e.g. to allow people to bring their experiences to life), and how it fits into the broader selection process. Clearly outline all the steps in the selection process with expected timelines. Show you’re serious and that your selection process is well thought through.
What questions should I ask in a video interview?
Well, let’s start with what you shouldn’t ask. Don’t ask people naff questions like “if you were an animal which animal would you be?”. While you might want to show that you are a hip, quirky, forward-thinking organisation, stupid video interview questions aren’t the way to do it. Many video interview platforms will allow you to put a video upfront to sell your company and your culture. This is a nice place to have a video of you and your team showcasing your great culture and work environment.
Figuring out what questions you want to ask should begin with scoping out the role. Something which I feel sucks equally as much as a resumé is a job description. Instead of using a job description, sit down with everyone in your team who can provide valid input on what the ideal person for the role will be like, and summarise it on one page. A great tool you can use to capture this is the role canvas [download for free here], which will help you succinctly describe exactly what you’re looking for. The video interview questions should then be constructed around this. The following are types of questions you should look to include:
- Warm-up: A broad question which isn’t too intense, that helps the candidate feel comfortable with the process and the technology. For example: “Tell us a bit about yourself, and some of your career highlights”.
- Attribute related: Questions targeted around a specific quality you are looking for in the role. For example, for a people leadership role you might ask: “What is a people leadership achievement that you’re really proud of, and why are you proud of this?”.
- Culture + role fit: Use broad questions to see what types of companies and roles really get the person excited. For example, you might ask: “What three words best describe the type of company you want to work for? Why?”.
- Knowledge, skills and experience: Something to draw out the key knowledge, skills and experience the person will bring to the role. For example, for a sales role, you could say: “Tell us about the most complex deal you closed, and the hurdles you had to cross in the process”.
Stuck on which questions to ask? Check out this brilliant deck of interview question cards designed to help you ask the right questions!
How many questions should I ask in a video interview?
Too many questions and candidates will press close quicker than if their boss had walked past while they were searching for another job. Too few questions and you won’t have enough information to go beyond the resumés you’ve collected (and remember, resumés alone won’t cut it).
Here are some guidelines about what works well in terms of balancing drop-off and getting the depth you need:
- Entry-level roles: Two questions. A warm-up question and an attribute related question that will help evaluate culture fit.
- Frontline roles: Three questions. A warm-up question, a culture fit question and an attribute related question.
- Professional/Managerial roles: Six questions. A warm-up question, a culture fit question, two attribute related questions, an experience related question and a wrap-up question to finish off.
How do I score a video interview?
I know it can be tempting to play psychologist, but contrary to poor practice, you shouldn’t be scoring video interviews based on what the person is wearing or the painting you can see in the background. Give each interview a score and comment based on perceived strengths/gaps. Not only is this a good practice to get into (as it enables you to examine your rationale beyond ‘gut-feel’), but it also makes it much easier to provide candidates with feedback. This creates a positive interview experience, even for unsuccessful candidates. Some other tips to keep in mind when scoring:
- Hiring is a team process: Try and independently view and score the videos with at least one other person. This helps de-bias the process.
- Watch the whole interview: People often improve as they warm-up to giving their responses, and sometimes early impressions are misleading.
- Be lenient regarding the level of polish: Many people don’t like being on camera and most people aren’t professional actors or video editors. Try not to place too much emphasis on the quality of the video, background, etc. Also, be mindful that people will naturally be uncomfortable and nervous. This is fine - in most cases, we aren’t judging their ability to be the next Hollywood superstar.
- Focus on the content of the responses: What the person says is the most important thing. What do the words they use tell us about their approach to the role and culture fit? Do they avoid generic statements and go into a bit of detail explaining their thoughts?
- Score the video on 5*: Get into the habit of scoring videos based on a combination of the content of responses, culture fit and communication style. A 1* to 5* scale is helpful, with 1* being a very poor fit, and 5* for a very strong fit (keep in mind that 5* doesn’t mean perfect). Have the original role scope/canvas in front of you when you do this, so you are really assessing fit to the role.
I’m sold, I need video in my hiring process…so, what next?
Before going full speed ahead, I always recommend doing a pilot or two first with a couple of active roles. Through the pilot process, you will learn a lot about what works and doesn’t work at your company. It’s also a great way to get input from hiring managers on how to shape the process. If you’d appreciate a hand getting started, then feel free to get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help.
Go forth, implement video and diminish the stranglehold of the resumé!
Viren Thakrar is a guest blogger on the myInterview blog. Want to talk more about video interviewing? Not happy with your current recruitment process? Got a critical role to fill? Book in a chat here. We help fast-growing companies and forward-thinking leaders kick goals, get results and grow. Our focus is to help you hire, keep and develop great people.