updated on 05 February 2013
As a recruiter (and probably without knowing it, as a candidate), I can reflect on some interviews that very quickly and obviously became a waste of time. I know that good interviewers try to challenge their own assumptions, which are made based on their first impressions, but that can be hard. And the problem is that interviewers feel obliged to fill up the allotted hour out of respect for the candidate - frustrating for both parties. It's not necessarily about bad candidates, but there needs to be a mutual click at a human level that sometimes just isn't there.
But the point of this post is not a comment on hiring experienced candidates. In fact, this normally works well, as it is very common to use a specialist recruitment agency to filter down to only quality candidates. It is more about the application process for first jobs - I'm thinking of training contracts at large law firms, and graduate schemes at banks and large multinationals, which all receive thousands of applicants. The brutal reality is that very few of the applicants are invited to the interview stage (whether face-to-face, by telephone or by video) because the internal recruitment teams have limited time and resources. The risk is that they are missing some of the best candidates, based on a quick skim of an application form, knowing that there are a limited number of interviewing hours in the calendar.
For all of the jobs that I mention above, communication skills are crucial - both written and oral - but today's application forms are performing the first filter based only on written skills, which is why I think that this is an inefficient and incomplete process. I predict that application forms of the future for these types of job will include a video clip of applicants' answers to a few questions, such as those along the lines of "Tell us about a time…". This is already starting to catch on in the United States.
Students are very comfortable filming short clips and sharing them, and they don't need a special room or to invest in any new technology. For the recruiter, it doesn't take that long - they can watch these short clips in their own time, to get a more interesting first impression. Most importantly they get better coverage - ie, greater insight into many more candidates than they could dream of inviting to a first interview.
I predict that the one-way video will become a standard aspect of any graduate job application form, quickly improving the quality of the candidates that are invited to the two-way phase of the interview process. In turn, this improves the quality of the cohort of new starters, thus giving the company/firm a competitive advantage. What remains to be seen is when this will happen and whether companies/firms will use a third-party outsourced provider, take a white-label service integrated into their application process or simply ask applicants to paste links to a video of their answers.
Toby Hornett is an in-house legal director (ex-Clifford Chance) and blogs at www.legaljobtips.com.