video interviews

Video interviewing has quickly become the norm, not the exception. The vast majority of interviews are now conducted online, largely supplanting the niche previously occupied by telephone interviews. Compared to telephone interviews, video interviews serve as a more natural and information-rich communication medium and are generally the preferred assessment method.

Many organisations that are new to video interviews, they may be simply unaware of the important considerations associated with video interviewing.

In this guide, we will outline three main areas of concern when designing a video interview process. In particular, it covers areas that can be easily overlooked by those new to video interviewing but require significant thought and planning.

section one

One-way vs two way interviews

When designing a video interview process, you must decide whether you are using one-way or two-way interviews. One-way interviews, also known as asynchronous interviews, involve candidates recording answers to questions which they upload themselves. Candidates can provide answers to interview questions at their convenience, rather than at a specific date or time. Two-way interviews, however, replicate the face-to-face interview format, with both interviewer and interviewee joining a video call. Both methods have their relative advantages and disadvantages, so interviewers are well advised to think carefully about which they adopt.

Two-way interviews are largely considered the default option, as they do not require a specialist platform, just regular conferencing software. Unlike one-way interviews, two-way interviews allow interviewers to ask probing questions, helping to explore issues in more detail. They are also better measures of on-the-spot problem-solving, as candidates have fewer opportunities to prepare responses. Lastly, two-way interviews allow candidates to ask questions themselves, helping them to better frame their answers, and to learn more about the employing organisation. In principle, two-way communication should be a superior option when it comes to evaluating the quality of hire, but in practice, the reality is more complicated.

Want to watch a video instead?

If you would prefer to watch a video, here is Ben Schwencke talking about one-way vs two-way video interviews:

One-way interviews are, undoubtedly, more convenient for both interviewer and interviewee. The total assessment time of a one-way interview is normally a fraction of that of a two-way interview, as candidates typically answer 5-10 short questions.

Candidates can provide responses in their own time, whenever it is convenient for them to do so. But beyond convenience, one-way interviews benefit from being highly structured, as each candidate receives the exact same questions, presented in the exact same way. Candidate scoring is also far more structured, as video interview software typically allows for numerical scoring, creating a highly structured approach. When deciding between them, organisations should predominantly consider the stakes of the role. For high volume, low-stakes recruitment, one-way video interviews should provide a more scalable and convenient solution, both for candidates and interviewers. However, high-stakes, low-volume recruitment typically demands a greater time investment, and candidates are likely to appreciate a two-way interview, making that the better solution in this instance.

"Although two-way interviews should be more predictive of job performance, in practice, one-way interviews are often more effective, but only because they are typically more structured."

- Ben Schwencke
section two

When not to use the camera

Although it may sound essential, after all, they are called "video" interviews, not everyone will want to use their camera. Naturally, some reasons are better than others, and organisations do want to conduct interviews with cameras on whenever possible. One of the big advantages of video interviews over telephone interviews is their "media richness". Video as an information medium allows interviewers and interviewees to connect more naturally and to share non-verbal information akin to face-to-face interviews. However, not everyone feels the same way, and many candidates have legitimate reasons to turn off their camera.

The most obvious and understandable reason not to share video is due to technical problems.

Perhaps their webcam simply isn’t working or isn’t compatible with your chosen video platform. In this instance, there simply isn’t anything they can do to remedy this situation, and they are only able to provide audio responses. Additionally, some candidates may have a functioning camera, but the definition is particularly low and would result in a poor video experience. Lastly, internet bandwidth may be an issue for videos, and people who either experience slow internet or rely on mobile data could struggle with video. In these instances, the polite approach lets candidates turn off their video, avoiding any unwanted embarrassment.

What about mental health and neurodiversity?

The most serious issue to consider, however, is that of mental health and neurodiversity. People who are severely socially anxious may feel uniquely uncomfortable sharing their screen and would feel more comfortable with audio-only communication. Even for roles where video or face-to-face communication is essential, we still recommend giving candidates the option to turn off their cameras for interview purposes. Interviews are particularly anxiety-provoking situations and are not reflective of day-to-day stresses. Moreover, this issue becomes more pertinent in the case of neurodiversity.

"Research indeed shows that candidates with autism tend to be discriminated against in video, but not audio interviews, and so giving candidates the option will serve as a reasonable adjustment."

- Ben Schwencke
section three

Properly structure your interviews

When it comes to the effectiveness of the interview itself, the structure (or lack thereof) is a major determinant. A vast body of research has repeatedly shown that the more structured the interview, the more predictive of performance it is. In fact, a single highly structured interview has the predictive power of 3-4 unstructured interviews, making structured interviews a strictly superior option when it comes to the quality of hire. Although there has been less research regarding interview structure for video interviews specifically, we have every reason to believe the same logic applies.

You should structure interviews

The main advantage of structured interviews is their reliability relative to unstructured interviews. Unstructured, or conversational interviews, have no fixed questions, and thus the interview experience varies wildly from person to person. Some candidates are given a hard time, others are shoehorned in, creating significant unreliability. Additionally, unstructured interviews typically have no scoring criteria and are judged based on the natural flow of the conversation. This makes performance extremely intangible and nebulous, further reducing reliability. Having a fixed set of questions and formal scoring criteria, however, standardises the process, allowing interviewers to better compare candidates.

Talk with us

Learn how to best use video interviews... or whether you even need to use video interviews. Talk with an expert about your needs.

Another key advantage of structured interviews is reduced bias, both conscious and unconscious. Unstructured interviews are especially vulnerable to bias, as interviewers may intentionally or unintentionally give certain candidates a harder time than others based on demographic characteristics, i.e., gender, age, ethnicity, or disability status. Having a fixed set of questions and a standardised scoring criterion helps mitigate the impact of unconscious bias in the interview, providing a fairer assessment. Although structured interviews cannot eliminate bias entirely, they are far more robust against bias than unstructured interviews and should always be considered the default assessment method.

section four

Technical requirements

The final recommendation is to consider technical compatibility issues when designing video interviews. A significant unknown in the process is the technical capabilities of the candidate’s devices, which are likely to vary significantly. For example, some candidates will use mobile devices, and others will use PCs; some will use Android devices, others iOS; some candidates have older devices, others have new ones, etc. Moreover, there are considerations that the employing organisation must make when choosing software for video interviews, as their internal policies may prevent them from subscribing to certain services. These considerations must be top of mind when deciding how, when, and where to conduct video interviews.

However, for ability testing specifically, game-based assessments have the potential to exceed the validity of traditional assessments. Traditional assessments, which lack complex mechanics and animations, are limited in scope regarding the complexity of their tasks, and the number of different tasks which can be employed. Additionally, traditional assessments typically require more time to complete, limiting the information gained per-unit time.

In this section, we will discuss the ways that game-based assessments have the potential to increase validity when compared to traditional ability tests.

Ensure technical compatability

When it comes to candidates, you are well advised to choose video software that is well-known and supports a variety of browsers, devices, and operating systems. As a general rule, the more established the provider, the more thorough their compatibility and integrations. For example, providers such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet rank among the most popular video conferencing software, and there is a good chance that almost anyone’s devices will be compatible. One-way video interviewing, however, requires relatively niche software and receives a fraction of the usage of generic video conferencing software.

"You must do your due diligence and ensure sufficient compatibility and technical support when choosing a one-way interview provider."

- Ben Schwencke

For employers, your flexibility to choose a provider tends to vary considerably. For smaller organisations operating in relatively low-stakes industries, you may not have many procurement or compliance constraints, and can choose almost any provider. For larger and more sensitive industries, even the most well-established providers may be inadequate from a privacy, data security, or general compliance perspective. Additionally, many larger organisations have exclusive contracts with certain providers and may only be able to purchase relevant software from a list of preferred suppliers, limiting flexibility.

section five

Conclusions and final thoughts

As with all assessment methods, the more you put into the process, inevitably the more you get out as a result. Through careful planning, preparation, and decision-making before you get started, you maximise the probability of hiring great candidates while minimising the risk of mishires. Being ill-prepared, however, is very likely to reduce the effectiveness of your selection processes, harming the organisation in the long term. For more information about how Test Partnership could enhance your employee selection processes, please book a call with us or register for a free trial.