Are video interviews the future of recruitment?
19 March 2020

Are video interviews the future of recruitment?

From saving time, to creating a digital experience, here’s how video interviews are changing recruitment for both employers and candidates


Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir worked as a content marketing writer at Ciphr from 2019 to 2021, specialising in topics related to HR systems, recruitment, payroll software, and learning and development.


Recruitment and retention Talent management Technology


From saving time, to creating a digital experience, here’s how video interviews are changing recruitment for both employers and candidates

The job application process can be daunting for many candidates, especially when it comes to the interview stage. Nerves build up, you want to make sure you’re saying the right thing and then judging on how the interview goes, you’re either offered the job or not. Today, however, video interviews – which are used by 47% of graduate employers – can make this stage less daunting. So, does this mean video interviews could soon become the future of recruitment?

Since 2011, the use of video interviews has risen by nearly 50%, with six in 10 HR managers at large companies using video to interview candidates. This form of recruitment, however, isn’t as popular with smaller employers, who tend to rely on traditional phone or in-person interviews. Not only does a video interview save time for smaller companies as well as the larger ones, but it can also make candidates feel more comfortable because they can be done in a familiar setting. This option also helps employers to find the best person for the role regardless of location (by making it easy to interview those who might relocate or work remotely), can help the environment by reducing employers’ carbon footprint through eliminating the need for travel, and can deliver an experience that’s more in tune with the preferences of digital-savvy talent. We might also see more employers relying on video interviews while restrictions related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic are in place. Read on to find out how to make remote hiring work for you.

Types of video interviews

There are two main ways that video interviews are carried out: live, or pre-recorded.

In pre-recorded video interviews, which often replace the phone interview stage, candidates answer questions (as specified by the hiring manager) in a video when it is convenient for them. Hiring managers then watch the video in their own time. In some cases, as shown by the BBC, candidates have to answer questions within a time limit to show on-the-spot thinking.

On the other hand, candidates might be asked to take part in a live two-way video interview via a video chat tool such as Skype. This allows employers to recreate the traditional face-to-face interview format without requiring the candidate to travel to the office or workplace.

Analysing performance

One advantage of recording interviews is the ability to review footage and measure candidates’ performance. In 2019, Unilever replaced human recruiters with an artificial intelligence system that scans graduate candidates’ facial expressions, body language and word choice, and checks them against traits that are considered to be predictive of job success. As a result, Unilever claims to have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds and created a more ethnically and gender-diverse workforce.

Employers can also track candidates’ performance on pre-recorded video interviews, making it easier to highlight the top performers and to narrow down the candidate pool. By watching the video interview and noting commonalities in top performers’ responses and body language, you can easily spot a strong candidate in future interviews by knowing what to look out for.

Benefits and drawbacks

There are lots of benefits for candidates of video interviews. By not having to travel to the workplace for the interview, they can save money and time that could be better spent on interview preparation. They could also feel more at ease and able to perform better. Despite these benefits, research by the BBC found that over 90% of employers still feel that the traditional face-to-face interview format is best.

Video interviews do, however, create the need for more HR training. A CIPD analysis of a report on video interviews found that only a small number of HR managers had received any training or coaching on how to use video technology for recruitment, and functional managers relied only on their minimal previous experience. The same research also noted that technical and reliability issues associated with live video interviewing tools could be another barrier to their successful usage.

Tips for success

To make sure video interviews run smoothly, employers need to use the right tools. General video chat platforms like Skype can be best for a live two-way interview, but for pre-recorded interviews, specialist video-interviewing platforms such as Ciphr video screening are likely to give the best results. This cost-effective tool – which integrates with our recruitment software, Ciphr iRecruit – allows candidates to record short answers to the questions you have set through an intuitive self-service portal. You can then review and compare the responses in your own time, with an option to use in-built AI and facial-feature analytics to assess candidates’ emotional intelligence.

For both employers and candidates, practice and preparation are key for successful video interviews. Before the interview, use your laptop or computer to record yourself in a mock interview scenario. Review the recording to make sure your webcam is working, check there are no technical errors and that you are speaking clearly.

An advantage of any video interview for candidates is that you can have important notes placed next to you as a reminder of what you want to highlight or ask. Glance at these before the interview starts or before you record your answer to make sure you cover everything you want to. Don’t, however, become distracted and lose eye contact with the camera by constantly glancing at the notes.

The third important tip for employers and candidates is to take your interview setting and background into account. Make sure there is no background noise, or any noise at a level which could be distracting. Also ensure that there is nothing distracting or messy placed behind you, and that you look professional and presentable.