Video Interviewing - Pros and Cons
Jared Jacobson, Esq. on 8/19/2013
About The Author
Jared Jacobson Law, LLC
From a company’s perspective, the bottom line, cost-per-hire number is a very important consideration when recruiting new talent. With video interviewing, companies have an opportunity to save money on travel, time and other related resources throughout this process. The higher the level of employee, the higher this cost may be. Additionally, once the video interview has been conducted, the employer can share it with other employees within the company, whose input would be required for the new hire, instead of having the applicant interview with each person, in-person, separately. Certain on-line services even offer group on-line, collaborative video conferencing, so multiple people can simultaneously participate in the interview.
However, what and who the interviewer thinks s/he is actually seeing in an on-line interview may be skewed in several ways, not providing the interviewer with certain human data that may often be taken for granted. For one thing, you can see only a person’s head, rather than the entire body. Therefore, obvious "tells", to borrow from the poker genre, meaning when something someone says is contradicted by pieces of their body language, e.g., crossing legs, arms, fidgeting, covering their face, etc., will certainly be harder to recognize in an on-line video interview.
A potential employer may be at a disadvantage from a hiring standpoint using video interviewing and may stand to gain only from an economic one, and then potentially only in the short term. Besides the "tells" above, there are certain intangibles that just can’t be captured on-line, like they may be in-person. For example, the natural feeling one gets when they just "get along" with the person. On the other hand, if a candidate feels comfortable in his/her environment, s/he will be more open from the start and reveal more about him or herself than s/he may otherwise reveal in a more formal, traditional interview, leading to a new kind of "human" connection, via on-line.
From an employment law perspective, one concern critics have is that there may be more opportunities to bring discrimination claims if the video interviews are not utilized responsibly. It gives the hiring party an additional opportunity to see some specific protected traits of a person being interviewed, prior to conducting an in-person interview. These protected traits, such as race, age or national origin, may not be apparent from a written or on-line application, although, a trait like gender likely would be. However, once we get past the application phase, an "interview" would be the next logical step regardless, whether it is on-line or in-person. In this author’s opinion, the same risks remain for discrimination in hiring whether it is in-person or on-line.
Sources from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim that video interviewing technology is not illegal, and although such knowledge of a candidate’s appearance may increase risk, like many other forms of pre-job screening (resume review, phone screening, etc.), video interviewing requires the hiring party and human resources staff to make decisions and act without discrimination. This is not a new concept, at least to most people. Therefore, when companies are considering making the move to on-line, video interviewing, they will need to weigh several factors, as detailed above, beyond the short-term, cost saving measures that may be realized.
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