In-person versus Video Interviews: Adjusting to the Coronavirus Hiring Process

The video conferencing market is expected to nearly double in value, from $6.1 billion in 2019 to $11.56 billion, by 2027. But if the coronavirus pandemic continues indefinitely (and with the United States reaching record breaking level daily highs of over 50,000 cases after months of self-isolation, it’s unlikely to die out), the market for such technologies is likely to surge far beyond current expectations. And one of the key areas we’re seeing video conferencing used more and more is during the hiring process. So, what does this reliance on virtual interviews mean for the out of work American? After all, four months of shelter in place has caused higher unemployment numbers than the entire 2007–2009 recession. And with unemployment risen from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in May and nearly 40 million Americans having filed jobless claims, this medium of interview may well be the new normal moving forward.

Due to coronavirus, nearly 40% of the Leisure and Hospital industry is unemployed, with the Transportation and Utilities industry following close behind. Unfortunately, the few companies that are still hiring, like software, financial, and consulting firms, aren’t always looking for the skill sets of the unemployed, due to the large industry differences. But if you are unemployed and lucky enough to land a job interview, you’ll find the interview process drastically changed. After all, in a post-corona landscape, the process will rely heavily on video conferencing technologies, like Zoom, Bluejeans or Hirvue. Still, the shift isn’t completely new as 50–65% of employers have admitted to using video conferencing for interviews in the past. What is new, however, is that while the first rounds of interviews were often previously performed via video (Hirevue screens, anybody?), the current climate requires that the entire hiring process be played out across video conferencing.

Now, there are many benefits of using video interviews for recruitment. With two types of video interviews-one way, where the applicant responds to prerecorded questions, and two way-where the applicant engages their interviewer in a real time conversation-the former can be used to conveniently screen applicants quickly. In contrast, a phone screen is more costly and time consuming. After all, ten one way interviews can be completed in the time it takes for a single phone screen.

And two-way interviews are also to the hiring managers as they’re more timely, flexible, and cost-effective, who’ve admitted to using videoconferencing technologies 6 out of 10 times. They can also widen the applicant pool, allowing out of town applicants to interview remotely without the hiring company having to occur travel costs or work around inflexible schedules. All in all, using video interviews to screen applicants allows hiring companies to save up to 80% in travel and venue costs.

So, it’s obvious that video conferences have benefits for the employers. But what about the benefits for our potential hires? Well, the truth is video conferences put them at a bit of a disadvantage. From the hiring manager’s point of view, they are more likely to be influenced by how much they like the interviewee on video conference than the quality of the interviewees answers. This is inverted during thein-person interview, though likability still remains key.

But applicants have admitted that coming across as likable is harder and more stressful for them during video conferences. In fact, job applicants who applied through video conferences were rated lower than their in-person counter parts across likability ratings, interview scores, and recommendations to hire. Now, in the post coronavirus world, we can assume that since all applicants will be interviewing via video conferencing, this can help in mitigating potential biases towards in person applicants. Still, adjusting to the demands of a video interview might be a concern for candidates who often view the experience as “awkward”. This is doubly true for one way interviews, which deny candidates the ability to get a feel for the company they are applying for. At the same time, technological disruptions, like poor audio quality or video delays can increase the awkwardness of one to one video interviews.

So, videoconferencing might not necessarily be ideal for the applicant. But with so many people out of work and the average interview process taking 45 days to hire, applicants will have to adjust to interviews across any mediums possible. And with technologies, like the SimuGator Interview App, which provides interview simulations in video format, and Pramp, which allows potential applicants to mock interview during via a face-to-face call, applicants who are willing to put in the work will have time to prepare for their interview and, hopefully, pass.

Finance, healthcare, and technology nerd, aspiring writer, and pop culture junkie. All views my own. Work in progress.

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