Pros & Cons Of Pre-Recorded Video Interviews: A Recruiter’s Guide

Recruiting new talent for any company is a long and rigorous process. In larger organizations, it usually starts with the hiring manager submitting a job opening for approval by the finance or HR departments. Following that, the company will need to write an accurate job description that will best reflect the role and the qualifications needed to succeed in it. Then, it’s time to post that description on job boards, social media, and other sources — a task that is done either by the company’s in-house recruiter or by a retained executive search firm, should the company decide to outsource the recruiting process. Either way, all of these tasks are done before the company has even one qualified candidate for the role.

Once all of this is done, the hiring process can begin. According to a Glassdoor study from 2017, the average time-to-hire in the US — the time from which the first candidate applies to when the vacancy is filled — takes 23.8 days. This may not seem that long, but when looking at specific states and professions, the picture is not encouraging. For example, in Washington DC the average time-to-hire is 33.2 days while hiring either a professor or a business system analyst will take 60.3 or 44.8 days respectively. Those days where the role stays open, on top of the time it takes to advertise the vacancy are making the company lose money. However, companies willing to adopt new technologies may be able to save both time and money in the hiring process.

Average Hiring Duration By Country
Source: Glassdoor

What are Pre-recorded Video Interviews?

You may already be using a remote video interview tool in your company, such as Skype or Zoom. Even if this is not a common practice in your workplace, most people have experienced some form of video call in their lives, whether it’s using FaceTime with a family member, or Google Hangouts with a colleague from another country. The advantages of online interviews include the ability to assemble an interview panel more easily, connect with remote candidates, and more. However, recently there have been even more developments in the world of video interviews for recruiting, with pre-recorded video interviews. 

Using dedicated software, hiring managers can record their questions in advance and send them to candidates, who, in turn, can record their answers in the comfort of their own home and on their own time. Hiring managers can then view the answers as many times as they wish, share them with other team members, and compare the answers with other candidates. Below we’ll explore the benefits of pre-recorded video interviews in-depth, as well as look at the disadvantages, so you can have the full picture and make an educated decision about this tool.

The Pros of Pre-recorded Video Interviews

1. Expanding your talent pool beyond your city and country

Similar to the advantages of online interviews, the pre-recorded job interview can also help you recruit people from other cities and countries. If you’re looking to recruit for a role in a small niche, for example, biochemist or AI developer, the talent pool in your city can be limited. Using a remote video interview will help you find candidates that will later relocate (instead of flying them over for an interview), or work remotely. The specific benefit of a pre-recorded job interview relates to time zone differences — as the candidates can interview whenever they are available, and both sides don’t have to bend over backward to find overlap between the time zones.


2. Skip the scheduling process

One of the more time-consuming tasks of the hiring process is scheduling. When you have about 10-15 candidates to interview, even if it’s only a phone interview, emailing and trying to figure out when is best for both of you can take days, if not weeks. Not to mention that the actual interview time with all of these candidates can also amount to a whole working day — if we’re not taking into account unanswered calls, rescheduling, interviews going long, and so on. The pro of the pre-recorded job interview is obvious here. It saves you the time you’d waste on scheduling and conducting the actual interview. All candidates can answer the questions within a matter of days, and you can watch the responses when it’s most convenient for you.

Often with personal interviews, the conversation takes different directions, as we are influenced by the person in front of us. We may be more interested in one thing they said, and spend too much time on one topic to go through the entire questionnaire we had in place. If we want to measure all of the candidates in the exact same way, a pre-recorded job interview can help. It doesn’t allow us to deviate from the topic at hand. This is especially important in creating equal opportunities and avoiding unconscious bias — there is no place for the interviewer to favor one candidate over the other. 

3. Better collaboration within your team

If you’ve decided to outsource the recruiting process using a platform such as Recruiters Lineup, with pre-recorded video interviews you can ensure your hiring manager and the outside recruiter work better together. They can both watch the answers to the interview questions and make a decision about candidates together, instead of one person reporting to the other, or having multiple interviews. The same goes for other team members, such as the hiring manager and the direct supervisor — everyone can participate in the selection process without having to be present in the interview.

The Cons of Pre-recorded Video Interviews

1. Not reflecting the candidates’ true personality

Unlike an actual conversation, pre-recorded video interviews may feel more like performing for some candidates. It can feel like acting in front of the camera, making the candidates self-conscious and uncomfortable. In that case, it will be hard to get genuine and useful responses and assess if the candidate is a good cultural fit for the company.

2. Eliminating the chance for follow-up questions

One of the pros mentioned is related to having a set series of questions, allowing you to stick to the same script with all of the candidates and not deviate. However, in some cases, it can be beneficial to deviate. For instance, if a candidate provides their experience related to the role, but it’s hard to understand how the skills overlap. Or if you feel the candidate can expand more on an answer, but for some reason, they decided to be concise. In short, you lose the ability to follow up and give the candidate more of an opportunity to shine. 

3. You can’t answer the candidate’s questions

The interview is not a one-way street. In many cases, the candidates use the interview as a chance to get to know the company and the people working within it. It’s not only the company that needs to decide if they want to hire the employee but the candidate who should determine if the company and the role are a good fit for them. If it’s not a good fit, they will not remain in that position for a long period of time. Unfortunately, pre-recorded video interviews are a one-sided process, where the candidates don’t get to ask questions and learn more about the role and the company, which can leave them frustrated or confused.

4. You may be damaging the company brand

Having the candidates record their answers instead of speaking to an actual person can create alienation. While some candidates feel less stressed about not having to go through the regular interview process, others can feel like just another number in the process. When applying to work somewhere, the candidate is not only looking for the best role for them, but also for a team they can enjoy working with. If the interview process is all done through software, it can make them think like they won’t have any human connections during the actual work as well.

Conclusion

Using a pre-recorded job interview can provide many benefits to your hiring process, from expanding your talent pool to saving you time, money, and resources. With recorded interviews, it’s easy for the entire team to collaborate and provide their opinion on each candidate, while the fact that it’s a video recording also provides more subtle cues about the candidates, such as body language and facial expressions. Pre-recorded video interviews can also ensure you maintain a standard of hiring — measuring the candidates in exactly the same manner. As for the disadvantages of the pre-recorded video interviews, most of them can be addressed by understanding that this tool should not replace the live interview. 

This tool is great to screen candidates in the earlier stages of hiring. Instead of scheduling 15 phone interviews, you can simply send off the pre-recorded questionnaire to all of the candidates at the same time, and receive the answers in a matter of days. However, when it’s down to three or four candidates, it’s best to invite them to a face-to-face interview, either on-site or with a live, remote video interview. This way, you can engage in conversation, get to know their personality, let them ask you questions, promote your company to them and create an overall better candidate experience.

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Author Bio

Colin is in charge of leading the business activities of Recruiters LineUp along with other online recruiting websites, blogs, and forums to create a mutual win-win exposure and generate more traction. In addition, he manages “The community of corporate recruiting” LinkedIn group which is a vibrant community focused on how to improve the recruiting process.

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