Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.
Man conducting a video interview

Interviewing online: the future of recruitment?

Even in the most positive jobs market in memory, attending a job interview can be a daunting experience.

You enter an unfamiliar environment, unclear about what you might be asked, who you’ll be facing or how long you might be there. You need to prepare for a grilling in case there’s little time between questions for reflection.

It’s a high-stress environment, where every mistake or slip-up counts, with performance anxiety getting in the way of what you really have to offer.

Is there a better way? Well, the pandemic suggests that might be the case.

Reinventing the interview process

Back in 2018, LinkedIn looked at five hiring innovations, ranking them based on how useful they were perceived to be in reinventing the recruitment process.

Perhaps surprisingly, virtual interviews ranked last: just 18 per cent found it to be the most useful of the new techniques, trailing meeting in casual settings, job auditions or assessing for soft skills (ranked number one).

Even so, the career-focused platform was not wild about the traditional format of interviewing either.

“Despite their popularity, traditional interviews have been largely discredited. It’s been shown they can even undercut the impact of more useful information,” it said.

“Attractive and charismatic interviewees aren’t necessarily more capable, for example, but we unconsciously assume they are. In our survey, respondents noted the bias problem in traditional interviews as well as their limited ability to assess soft skills and weaknesses.

“It’s hard to evaluate grit in a candidate or spot disorganisation simply by having a chat.”

Of course, that was then

Now, thanks to COVID-19, the use of virtual interviewing or remote recruitment has soared and — thanks to technology — some of those biases and challenges are being overcome.

A US study by PXT Connect, owned by Wiley, interviewed 3,000 hiring managers, and found 87 per cent reported having conducted virtual interviews since March 2020.

LinkedIn has also changed its tune, reporting that 81 per cent of HR professionals plan to continue virtual interviews when the pandemic finally ends, and 70 per cent believe it is now the new standard.

Virtual interviewing can save time, it can enable businesses to widen their net for talent as candidates don’t need to travel until they secure an offer, and it can allow recruiters to judge candidates more equally.

Industry magazine Human Resources Director argues it is now just the start of a wider set of virtual and tech-driven changes to the recruitment process.

“Importantly, digital recruitment provides an opportunity to do things not just differently but better – to improve outcomes for both employer and employee.

“Hand-in-hand with the virtual interview we’re seeing the rise of virtual onboarding thanks to e-signatures, and employee assessment tools – AI applications and platforms that test candidates’ skills and suitability to specific roles so that decision-making becomes data-based rather than subjective.”

At the same time, there are things lost by the switch to virtual interaction.

The HR world is full of tips about how best to judge a candidate’s body language through a screen — and also how recruiters should learn to reflect their own personality (or govern their thoughts) via digital body language.

So online or offline: which approach is best?

When in-person interviewing can be done safely, it remains popular. Many people feel interviewing in person is better for both candidate and the employer. It can foster engagement between both sides and is supposedly a better test of listening and interpersonal skills.

From a candidate’s perspective, appearance and demeanour during a face-to-face interview are more challenging. No one wants to walk on eggshells around someone else’s office, while the workplace is watching, eagle-eyed.

But as everyone becomes more used to platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, a growing number of employees will never physically meet their co-workers — and we need to adjust to that change.

There is also a growing number of would-be employees who prefer the virtual touch. The proportion of job hunters searching for ‘remote’ as a keyword when looking for work has soared, climbing as much as 360 per cent, according to Glassdoor.

Why recruit online?

Entering a virtual meeting changes the dynamic of the room for a candidate.

Being in the comfort of your own familiar environment, you aren’t pressured by the bustling, often strange workplace domain where a job interview usually takes place.

You don’t have to worry about the smaller, physical worries that come with an in-person interview (finding parking, finding the workplace, or dressing immaculately). Immediately, this can lower stress and mean you are performing more naturally during the interview itself.

From a business point of view, it makes it a lot easier on the already taxing recruitment processes. It can save costs, improve scheduling flexibility, open the door to a wider range of candidates, and most importantly, it is socially distanced.

Although companies may have been forced to switch to this virtual process over the lockdown period, it could be providing candidates that are better suited to the roles offered than in previous, physical interviews.

What to take away

The pandemic has changed everything about work and significantly increased our collective dependence on technology, whether you’re at home, university or in the office.

And while many of those changes were made under duress, some have proved so useful they will outlast a time of lockdowns, social distancing and office masks.

Virtual recruitment is part of the brave new world – and just the start of the many ways we will reshape our way of working in years to come.

About the author

As Cannings Purple’s Customer Relationships Management (CRM) Officer, Lawson Ayers assists a range of clients in the planning and delivering of their CRM strategies, including analysing data to inform business development and campaigns.

More COVID-19 news