Do you mind being recruited virtually
Karolina

Do you mind being recruited virtually?

There are some things that just need to be done face-to-face. There are lots of subtleties that go unnoticed during a video call, both consciously and unconsciously.

21 July 2021

There are some things that just need to be done face-to-face. There are lots of subtleties that go unnoticed during a video call, both consciously and unconsciously.

But, times have changed and recruiting candidates virtually has become part of the process.

I think it’s an incredibly powerful and useful method of recruitment. It certainly has its benefits, which were particularly noticeable during the pandemic. 

You don’t need to juggle calendars, book meeting rooms or completely reorganise your working day. It widens the talent pool for you to choose from because the location of the candidate doesn’t matter. It can also speed up the whole recruitment process because you have the flexibility to interview as many candidates as you want.

However, you can’t completely replace one-to-one interviews. The only way to see this is to push virtual recruiting to its limits.

One company I’ve come across uses modern technology to speed up the recruitment process. The solution it provides is an automated video interviewing process.

Candidates are first sent a series of interview questions. They are then invited to film themselves giving their answers.

From a recruitment perspective it creates a very scalable environment, especially for the first-round interview process. A recruiter can browse a database of recorded video answers and even compare individual answers from candidates side-by-side. It does away with all the logistics of organising a physical interview, but still delivers the interview answers.

This approach is faster and more scalable, which could break down geographical boundaries, increases candidate reach and lowers recruitment costs.

But not all recruitment can be done virtually

The problem is that this process isn’t always popular with candidates. You could also argue that it is slightly unfair. It requires a certain skill set that not every candidate has – speaking on camera. The approach will favour those with good communication skills and those who are more outgoing. But it might discriminate against those who are more introverted, shy away from the camera and feel uncomfortable about the whole process. 

After all, talking to a camera is very different from talking to a person.

The other issue is that not everyone needs to be able to speak on camera well to do their job. A computer programmer, data scientist or engineer don’t arguably need this skill set. So, it’s strange that they are being assessed in this way.

Diversity is another issue. It’s great to have candidates that are confident and good communicators, but it’s even better when you can build a team where you can offset different skills and different personality types.

What does this reveal about virtual recruiting?

I think virtual recruiting is a very powerful tool. But it does have its limitations and that needs to be appreciated. As we’ve seen with this example just given, it’s vulnerable to being biased towards a particular type of candidate.

The other problem is popularity. In this extreme example, there are some candidates who will absolutely hate this automated process. You could leave a very bad impression on certain candidates because they feel that you don’t think they are worth meeting in person. 

The danger with this approach is that good candidates who have already received multiple offers may avoid this interview process altogether. They might also speak disparagingly about the interview process to other candidates, which could negatively affect a company’s employer brand.

Sometimes though, virtual interviews are more popular 

A virtual interview, which is not pre-recorded like the example given, might be preferred by candidates compared to a one-to-one interview in the office. They might feel more comfortable because they are in the comfort of their own home. 

Two-way interviews can also be recorded for review later on, which would do away with an unpopular automation process. Some companies are doing this so that they can peer-review candidates with their colleagues afterwards. In the future, they could even use artificial intelligence to scan candidates’ facial expressions, body language and word choice. Candidates could be psychologically profiled using these techniques to check whether they would fit in with the team they are joining.

But even now we are starting to tread into areas that some candidates might feel uncomfortable about. What are the limits on how the candidate is assessed? Employers are already discouraged from asking for instance the age of the candidate because that could be seen as discriminatory.

Personally, I'm a little uneasy about the idea of AI algorithms analysing my body language, behaviour and use of language. It feels like there is a slight invasion of my privacy. I don't mind being virtually recruited, but I have to admit, there are limits to what I will accept.


Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

Follow Luca on LinkedIn