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Video employment recruitment: the way of the future?

I just read an interesting article discussing the concept of employment applications by video for recruitment purposes. It sounds like a good idea; could it be the way of the future?

webcamThe old-fashioned practice of an applicant sending a résumé and waiting to be called for an interview while the employer sorts through several similar-looking résumés could be replaced with the process of applicants answering posted questions on the company website with video answers; is this a good thing?

Well, there seem to be a lot of advantages: the process could help screen out the candidates who are not as serious about the position, as there is some work involved, like preparing a draft answer and going through the trouble of recording the answers and posting them.

Also, potential employers could learn a bit about candidates who are out-of-province before deciding if they want to pay to fly them to the company headquarters for a formal interview. This can also expand the pool of applicants as they are more easily accessible.

Further, potential employers can learn things about the applicants that cannot be conveyed in an old-school résumé. For instance, instead of reading “bilingual”, the employer could view an applicant’s video answer in the second language to show that the applicant truly is bilingual (or at least, learn the extent to which the person can actually speak the required languages).

Along the same lines, potential employers may be able to do away with the résumé that says one thing, and the interview that demonstrates something completely different. Many job applicants are tempted to bend the truth by embellishing or omitting information on their résumés. It may not be so easy to do this when recording a personal answer and crafting a video response for the potential employer.

Moreover, the applicant’s presentation, conversational style and personality can actually help a potential employer decide if the person would be a good fit in the company. This way, time can be saved because a job applicant may look good on paper, but just may not be “the one” for a particular workplace.

What’s more, the hiring staff at the office can browse the video answers, and sort them into a particular order at their own convenience.

It seems like a really good idea. But what are the cons?

I imagine it could be overwhelming and time consuming for a job applicant to answer a series of questions and feel comfortable recording and uploading them to a website every time the person applies for a job. Also, there could be privacy concerns: how secure are the video answers? Can competitors hack into them and sabotage them? Can wrongdoers take the information and use it against the applicant? Since it is not common yet, applicants may prefer to apply elsewhere.

Also, it is possible that job applicants could raise issues of discrimination. Some video applicants may feel that the potential employer did not want to interview the job applicant in person because of racial discrimination. Alternatively, an applicant may assume ageism was at play; once the employer saw that the applicant was older, the application did not go forward. Although a résumé can hide these features, a video response cannot do so. This concern may be so significant that employers choose to avoid litigation by doing away with the idea of video responses.

Notwithstanding this point, if an employer is going to discriminate against a job applicant, the employer will find a way to do it, likely at the stage of the formal interview or even beforehand when reading the name or job experience on a résumé.

The potential employer can address this issue by ensuring that each candidate gets the exact same questions and the exact same amount of time to answer them (maximum recording time).

Though video responses may never replace the formal interview, they may become the first stage of the process to create a short list for in-person interviews. It could become the new pre-interview.

How about Skype? A first interview using this software could take place between a potential employer and an applicant once the short list is created through video applications, and could decide whether the applicant should come to the company headquarters for the final formal interview in person.

What do you think? Has your company ever used video answers as a way to screen out applicants for a job? Has your company ever conducted a first full interview on a format such as Skype?

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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2 thoughts on “Video employment recruitment: the way of the future?
  • Thanks for the comment, Adam…it must be an effective tool if Strombo was discovered that way…I believe we will see more of it in the future.

  • Adam Gorley says:

    Interesting indeed! I guess it’s a pretty handy tool, and it is open to abuse by employers who want to avoid hiring certain classes of people, but I’m not sure that’s really any bigger a problem than the in-person interview process.

    I imagine we’ll probably see more of it in the next few years too, as people are more and more comfortable with using digital video and presenting themselves in this way.

    I know MuchMusic used video resumes for a while (maybe up to 10 years ago?) in their search for new VJs. I believe that’s how George Strombolopolous got his first big gig.