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Video Screening Interview

You’ve posted a job opening, and now it’s time to screen the responses. Traditionally, this has been done by reading resumes and ranking the promising candidates. What if there was an inexpensive, time-effective, easier and more productive way to accomplish this step? Consider the video screening interview.

What Is a Video Screening Interview?

A video screening interview allows candidates to present their qualifications in a virtual setting and interviewers to evaluate them before they ever speak together. Much better than screening a candidate by reviewing a resume only, the video screening interview allows the candidates’ personalities as well as their communication skills to come through. These are especially helpful in screening candidates for positions in which strong communication skills or the ability to build rapport are required.

One-way vs Two-way Video Screening Interviews

Two main types of video screening interviews are the one-way (or “on-demand”) interview and the two-way (or live) interview. A less common option is the video introduction submitted by a candidate with their application.

Typically, the one-way interview is used as a screening tool early in the interview process. Questions are given to the candidates to answer in a short timeframe, typically one to three minutes each. Ideally, the questions will be asked by the hiring manager in a pre-recorded format to make the process more personal for the candidate. Candidates can give their responses at their convenience instead of scheduling a time to speak with an interviewer, just as interviewers can review these submissions as their schedules allow. This flexibility is especially helpful when time zones or other barriers make a scheduled call difficult. The one-way format also provides a consistent experience for all candidates at this stage in the interview process.

The two-way video interview is a real-time conversation between one or more hiring team members and a candidate. Like the one-way interview, this format saves time for both employers and candidates since no travel is required and the logistics involved with in-person meetings, such as scheduling rooms or booking travel, are eliminated. In many workforces, hiring team members may be working from different locations, yet can still join together at the scheduled meeting.

The third and less often used screening option is a video introduction that is sometimes requested by companies as part of the application stage. This introduction is an open-ended invitation for candidates to tell the hiring team why they are interested in the position for which they are applying.

Should You Use Video Screening Interviews?

Video screening interviews offer many advantages and some disadvantages for employers. Careful employers will weigh these and decide what works best for their organizations.

Advantages of Video Screening Interviews

Efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and identifying strong candidates are some of many reasons why video screening interviews are becoming more popular.

  • Efficiency in the interview process allows a faster turnaround for candidates and a quicker time to fill for employers. Video screening interviews reduce the coordination required to screen candidates and allow hiring teams to review many candidates in the time that a phone interview used to take for just one. This is especially helpful when there are many positions to fill or many candidates who are applying for an open position.
  • Video screening interviews save money by eliminating the need for expensive travel and saving interviewers time when candidates don’t pass the initial screening or fail to show up to an interview.
  • Ensuring a fair and consistent interview process is another advantage of video screening interviews. Each candidate can be asked the same questions and rated according to a standard rubric instead of different interviewers using inconsistent methods to evaluate candidates.
  • Companies have a wonderful opportunity to use video screening interviews to build their employer brand. Video-interview platforms often allow companies to have introductory and concluding videos that can generate enthusiasm for the company and showcase the benefits of working there. This leads to better engagement, as candidates become a captive audience for company promotional information.
  • Video screening interviews allow greater collaboration amongst all hiring team members and potentially reduce red-flag issues that just one hiring team member may overlook. Likewise, a hidden star candidate may be passed over by one team member but found by another.
  • Whether hiring local or remote employees, companies can tap into a wider talent pool by allowing video screening interviews.
  • Another often overlooked advantage of the video screening interview is the opportunity to project the company as a forward-thinking and innovative place to work. Sharp candidates want to work for companies that employ cutting-edge technologies and respect their time.

Disadvantages of Video Screening Interviews

Some disadvantages of video screening interviews can be mitigated if understood and planned for. However, a best practice is to allow candidates other options if they simply cannot compete fairly during a video screening interview.

  • Some people simply are nervous in front of a camera and may not present themselves as well as they would in person. Companies that use video screening tools should be aware of this tendency and offer ways to diminish the anxiety, such as unrecorded practice questions at the beginning and a welcome from the hiring manager that puts the candidates at ease.
  • Many jobs don’t require someone with tech-savvy skills, and candidates for these positions may be unfamiliar with and stressed by the technology required for the interview platform. Some may not even try to complete an interview if they lack confidence in the technical prowess needed. Companies may want to reduce this risk by sending clear instructions about the process and easy-to-follow steps.
  • Candidates may not have updated mobile devices or high-speed internet to complete the digital interview. Using technologies that can accommodate a variety of devices and connectivity options may offer a more level playing field to these candidates.
  • Poor video quality due to technology issues may discourage hiring team members from giving consideration to candidates whose interviews are choppy and hard to understand. Since technology issues are unpredictable, it is advisable to allow candidates another opportunity to participate in the video interview, or to reach out to them directly and conduct the interview by phone if their video screening interview is garbled.

The goal of all interviews is to find great talent to fill open positions. Many of the interview practices used for in-person interviews will be the same for video screening interviews. Establishing a process for video screening interviews and training team members will ensure a successful outcome.

Tips on Conducting a Video Screening Interview

Some companies may want to use Zoom or other video tools that have multi-use capabilities. Others want the functionality that a specific video-interview platform offers.

1. Train the Hiring Team on the Platform

Make sure hiring team members know how to use the platform effectively. Offer opportunities for a test run to practice using the platform as well as to troubleshoot issues that may arise.

2. Set Expectations with Candidates to Help Them Feel at Ease

Let candidates know what to expect in terms of the interview format and who they will be meeting with. Ask them to be prepared to turn on their cameras and meet in a quiet space, just as they would in an in-person interview. Give them clear instructions for using the technology tools.

3. Be Professional

Interviewers should be as professional conducting video screening interviews as in-person interviews. This includes dressing professionally, limiting distractions such as a ringing phone, and communicating with warmth. If conducting the interview from home, hiring team members should make sure the background and lighting are not distracting.

4. Provide Information about Next Steps

Once the interview is over, let the candidates know what to expect next and the timeline for finishing the hiring process.

Sample Questions to Ask In Video Screening Interviews

Video screening interview questions can be the same as questions that are asked during in-person interviews. Typically, one-way screening interview questions will be more general, in order to assess an overall job fit, while two-way interview questions are more specific to the role.

Initial Screening Interview Questions

The goal of screening interview questions is to get to know candidates and assess their interest in a position. This interview determines whether or not there is a basic fit between the candidates and the positions. If so, the candidates can proceed to the second round of interviews.

  • Why are you interested in working for our company? This is a great ice-breaker question to get to know the candidates’ motivation, as well as how well they have researched the company.
  • Why is this position of interest to you? Similarly, this question provides clarification about the candidates’ motivation to work and career goals.
  • What are your long-term career goals? If the open position relates to the career goals of the candidates, they will likely stay with the position longer than if your position is “just a job” while they look for a job they really want.
  • Why did you leave your last position? This question can be very revealing. Did the candidates leave their last position in good standing? Will candidates speak negatively of a previous employer? Will candidates be open in discussing their previous position?
  • Tell us about your favorite manager (or) Tell us how you like to be managed. It’s important to know how candidates like to be managed. If the candidates describe a manager who is different from the manager in the position for which they are applying, this is a clue that the fit may be wrong.
  • Describe your ideal work environment. Do the candidates want to work in a team or independently? Do the candidates want to work in an open office environment or remotely? Understanding how the candidates work best helps the hiring team quickly assess the fit with the open position.

Second-Round Interview Questions

The second round of interview questions are more specific to the candidates’ qualifications for the open position.

  • What skills and experience do you have working with _____? If the open position is a sales position, it’s important to know about the candidates’ sales experience and abilities. If the open position is a computer programming position, hiring teams will want to know the types of computer programming skills the candidates have, as well as their previous related work experience.
  • If you are offered this position, what challenges do you expect to face, and how will you overcome them? This question identifies how realistic their view is of the new position and how they demonstrate grit in the face of challenges.
  • How will you make our company better? If candidates can answer this question with specifics, it shows they are high performing and that they have done their research and will bring ideas.
  • What has been your biggest professional challenge? This question reveals obstacles that candidates have faced and overcome and, more importantly, what they consider to be challenges.
  • What has been your biggest professional accomplishment? This question allows candidates to brag while providing insight into what the candidates feel is notable.
  • From what you know about this position, what will you do during an average work day? Ensuring mutual understanding of what the job entails is a great reason to ask this question.

Finalist Interview Questions

Whether companies invite candidates to participate in more than two interviews may depend on the position and the candidate pool. Nevertheless, here are some questions that will be helpful if asked at the end of the interview process.

  • Why should we hire you? Give candidates a chance to make a final pitch.
  • How will your previous manager describe your work ethic and overall performance? This question elicits an honest response since candidates will anticipate the reference call that is implied in the question.
  • What haven’t we asked that you think we should know about you? This question can reap great information since it often catches candidates off guard and will tend to lead to candid responses.
  • Based on your understanding of this position, what concerns do you have? Candidates appreciate an opportunity to discuss aspects of the job that are unclear or confusing. This question also provides an opportunity to clarify mutual expectations.

Video-interviewing Platforms

There are many video-interviewing platforms available, and each have pros and cons depending on your needs. Here are a few to consider.

Video Communication Tools Used for Multiple Purposes

Some applications, such as Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom and Skype are used for multiple purposes. Scheduling two-way interviews with these tools is easy and free for basic functionality and relatively low-cost if features in a paid account are desired. Most multi-purpose communication tools don’t allow one-way interviews.

Video Interview Tools Embedded in Human Capital Management Platforms

Some HCM software companies, such as ApplicantPRO and Clear Company, have added video screening interview capabilities to their recruiting and applicant tracking programs.

Dedicated Video Interview Platforms

HireVue and SparkHire are two of many companies that offer dedicated video interview platforms. Both have integration capabilities with other programs. Sometimes these dedicated platforms can be more expensive than other options, but they also tend to offer more features.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Video Screening Interviews

How can I prepare a candidate to do a video screening interview?
As video screening interviews become more common, many candidates will have already experienced them. However, it’s still helpful to tell candidates what to expect and how long the interview will take. Information about what technology to use is also important. Some companies prepare a detailed list of instructions for candidates to help them prepare.
Who should conduct the interview?
Allowing the hiring managers to pre-record questions in one-way interviews is a great way to help candidates get to know them before they even speak in real time. When the hiring manager is unable to pre-record questions, members of the recruiting team may choose to do so. In two-way interviews, the hiring manager usually asks the questions, and may involve other team members in a panel interview.
Carol Eliason Nibley

Carol Eliason Nibley

Carol Eliason Nibley, SPHR, GPHR and Principal Consultant at PeopleServe, has more than 25 years of experience in human resources, most recently serving as Vice President of Human Resources for a technology company in Utah County. Carol has taught HR certificate courses at Mountainland Technical College and in other settings for more than 12 years.

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