Two years ago, we were still booking interviews face to face on a daily basis, jumping onto a busy train with no hesitation and shaking hands without any conscious thought of spreading germs. Fast forward 24 months. I am a busy recruitment consultant in a high demand sector yet I haven’t scheduled a single interview on a face-to-face basis this year! Many candidates I work with have become used to the virtual interview and even the suggestion of interviewing face to face has resulted in push back. Hiring managers always appreciate and understand requests, thus now trusted online platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are being used. Pre-Covid, video interviewing was a rarity and meeting people on virtual platforms was uncomfortable and perceived as unnecessary as telephone calls were sufficient. It is very clear – video interviewing is here to stay!
A recent study by HireVue has shown that 41% of 1,140 hiring managers plan to use a combination of in-person and virtual interviews, with 23% planning to move to a solely virtual interviewing process. These statistics are reflective of the recent changes and mindset shifts of managers and businesses when approaching remote working. Most employers are working to implement a flexible approach and working model to accommodate remote working even into roles that were previously seen as inflexible. According to the HireVue study, 31% planning on offering a mix of remote working and workplace-based working.
Like everything, adaption to the new norm can be frustrating and difficult at times and will inevitably come with its own challenges. But why the shift? Of course, the global impact Covid-19 has had on us forced the change to use virtual interviewing methods upon us, with good reason. Without the option of moving to a virtual platform, businesses would have been brought to a standstill which would have caused further devastation to the global economy. Studies have, however, shown that even when the option of going back to face-to-face interviews is more feasible and widely accepted, hiring managers and job seekers are keen to continue utilising virtual interview methods due to the abundance of positives.
Virtual interviews are far more convenient and time efficient. Hiring managers are able to carry out a higher volume of interviews with the absence of face-to-face meetings; back-to-back interviews during a set period of time can be scheduled without the worry of lateness and logistics interfering with the schedule which can often be the case with face-to-face meetings. Managers can therefore see far more candidates which will ultimately accelerate the entire hiring process. The absence of traveling to and from an interview also greatly benefits job seekers. The scheduling flexibility and availability to interview wherever you are means despite a busy schedule you can always squeeze in a one hour interview and avoid the rigmarole of having to book days off work and arranging the commute.
With virtual interviews not causing a geographical restriction, the parameters for candidate sourcing greatly increases. If a role is remote based, interviews and offers can be made to candidates you otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with which can allow for a far more experienced workforce as a result. Another key benefit for employers, particularly when interviewing for senior positions, is the ability to allow stakeholders from around the world sit in on the same interview. Hiring for senior positions is a big investment and their impact can be felt right the way through an organisation; when interviewing for such positions it is often in the best interest of all stakeholders to be present. The shift to a virtual interview process is therefore far more beneficial for a busy CEO or director.
The shift to virtual interviews is not all positive and like everything there are some unique challenges that come with the transition which may not have been previously experienced. Although logistical issues such as travelling are stamped out, other logistical issues are faced such as issues arising from using online platforms. Unstable internet connections are a common challenge particularly for people who live in remote areas with limited internet access. These issues can also be unforeseen and can happen when you least expect it despite all precautionary measures being taken beforehand. This will immediately put you on the backfoot. Although most of us will take technology for granted, others may have less experience with using such devices which will put those who are less tech savvy at a disadvantage despite them maybe possessing all the skills to do the job at hand.
One of the major positives when interviewing face to face is the personal connection created between interviewer and interviewee. Meeting in person increases the opportunity for genuine engagement which is partially lost when interviewing virtually. Without the human presence, you are unable to read someone’s body language and establish proper eye contact. This make it trickier to build up trust and intimacy and determine whether there is chemistry between all parties which is important to establish for both the hiring manager and job seeker.
To conclude, I feel there is a place for both face to face interviews and virtual interviews as both come with their own unique set of positives and negatives. The optimal interview format will be a combination of both and will be specific to the job opportunity at hand. I feel every role should be looked at on a case by case basis as there is not one rule that fits all.