During the recruitment process, using video to screen and later interview candidates, or using the phone to screen candidates, can help your startup in assessing job candidates.

Screening job candidates by video or phone

Interviewers make hiring decisions during the recruitment process based on the rich pool of information yielded by properly executed interviews. Today, video conferencing technology provides a popular solution to accessing a candidate remotely—screening by video is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Using the phone is also still effective.

Both these tools enable you to ask some basic questions and get a feel for a candidate. This will help you determine whether investing time in a full interview is warranted, and narrow down a list of 10 candidates to the top three. A short, informal discussion often provides quick insights that are not apparent on a resume.

Video interviewing in recruitment: Advantages and disadvantages

Before you embark on video interviewing, be aware of its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of video interviewing

When practical, an in-person interview is always best for recruitment. Nevertheless, for remote candidates, video interviews can also be very effective. Advantages include:

  • Cost savings: Video-conferencing platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts are free. This provides a huge savings over arranging in-person interviews for remote candidates, where the costs of transportation, lodging and meals (even if shared with the candidate) add up significantly
  • Fewer logistics: Startups and candidates save time and effort by eliminating travel logistics
  • Convenience: Attending an in-person interview typically requires a remote candidate to take a short leave from their everyday commitments. Video interviewing avoids this necessity

Disadvantages of video interviewing

  • Dependence on quality of internet connection: The effectiveness of a video interview hangs on the quality of the internet connection. Even a short delay in the feed can render a conversation too awkward to be of value.
    Poor audio quality has much the same effect. Poor video quality will also hinder an interviewer’s ability to interpret visual cues such as facial expressions and body language.
    Free, simple-to-use technologies like Skype and Google Hangouts are more susceptible to connection problems than professional-grade video-conferencing equipment. But of course, using professional equipment or services reduces the cost-savings advantage
  • Mutual fit harder to assess: A remote candidate cannot tour your startup’s facility or view its operations. This limits your opportunity to promote your organization.
    Remember that an interview is not just an audition: it’s an opportunity for both parties to explore a fit.
    This is particularly important when it comes to filling leadership or technical positions. In such cases, your facility, equipment, environment and culture are likely to be key factors in determining a mutual fit—so an in-person interview is worth the investment
  • Objectivity harder to maintain: Mixing video interviews with in-person interviews can diminish the objectivity of the recruitment selection process.

A fair and objective process is one in which all candidates are interviewed in a similar way.

A university research study by Greg Sears and Haiyan Zhang found that interviewers tend to form more negative impressions of candidates interviewed via video.1

Sears and Zhang suggest that video interviews are best used as a supplementary screening tool rather than as a replacement for the in-person interview

Free video-conferencing solutions 

Professional-grade video-conferencing solutions

Further reading

For tips on what to ask during a video or phone screening interview, see Screening candidates: Video and phone interview questions.

References

Sears, G.J., Zhang, H., Wiesner, W. H., Hackett, R.D. & Yuan, Y. (2013). A comparative assessment of videoconference and face-to-face employment interviews. Management Decision, 51(8), 1733–1752.