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The future of recruiting: Why video interviews are here to stay

April 6, 2021
iCIMS Staff
6 min read

[Editor’s note: All data included in this article comes from iCIMS’ survey of candidates.]

Key takeaways:

  • Candidates overwhelmingly like video interviews (94%) and see employers that use them more innovative than their peers (83%).
  • Avoiding commutes, increased flexibility, and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd were the top three tangible benefits candidates cited as to why they like video interviews.
  • Despite a major increase in popularity, video interviews are still seen as new; candidates view this as a positive change and hope to see more video interviews in future.

We’ve been told what to expect from the future of work for the better part of a year.

I’ll admit, I’m a skeptic. Yes, recruiting looks very different today than it did a year ago. But there will come a time, and soon, when virtual hiring stops being necessary for everyone all of the time. Who decides what it looks like? Politicians, health experts, your boss?

Respectfully, that’s not going to work long-term.

The biggest reason organizational change is so hard – and so often fails – is because people aren’t bought in on what’s new. The combined weight of their current challenges and future benefits isn’t great enough to outweigh leaving things as they are. Or, in this case, how things were.

Instead, the future of recruiting will be determined by the people living it: candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. They’ll be the ones to decide what stays and what goes.

If you think it’s that video interview solutions eliminate the need to meet face-to-face, you’d be right. At least, that’s the leading tangible benefit, according to 24% of candidates.

3 big reasons candidates want more video interviews in the future

What would you say is the most significant benefit of video interviewing?

If you think it’s that video interviews eliminate the need to meet face-to-face, you’d be right. At least, that’s the leading tangible benefit, according to 24% of candidates.

You’d also be firmly in the minority on this one (more on that later). Other candidates said they like video interviewing because it’s flexible (11%), and it helps them stand out from other candidates (8%).

In a minute, we’ll get to the biggest reason 51% of candidates want video interviews to become a regular part of the hiring process moving forward – and I can almost guarantee it’s not what you think.

But first, let’s break down each of these benefits in turn:

Candidates like not having to commute early in the hiring process

The benefit to skipping a commute to interview for a job isn’t really about the drive time. One of the uncomfortable truths of looking for a new job when you already have one: dodging work and taking time off to interview. It’s tough, inconvenient, and can feel dishonest.

If something comes up and the schedule has to shift – well, it makes everything that much worse.

On-demand video interviews offer a softer, less committal way to begin the interview process. Typically, these fall between phone screens and in-person interviews, though live video interviews are a viable replacement for meeting face-to-face with remote-only candidates.

Candidates like the flexibility of on-demand video interviews on their schedule

One of the great things about video interviews is they can fit any schedule. In fact, candidates in our survey recorded their interviews at all times of day and night.

However, candidates seem to overwhelmingly prefer to record their video interviews during regular business hours, defined as Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Recordings peak mid-to-late afternoon, with a severe drop-off after 7 p.m. Only 21% of candidates recorded their interviews outside of regular business hours, including weekends.

This tells us candidates are evenly distributed when they’re actively engaged in the job search but shy away from encroaching on their nights and weekends. It also tells us something we already knew: many candidates like to search for jobs while at their current job.

The takeaway here is that, given the option, candidates like choosing when and where they’ll interview. Giving them that choice not only makes them happy, your recruiters and hiring managers get the same flexibility.

With on-demand video interviews, no one has to worry about sneaking around, playing hooky, or scheduling their days around live, face-to-face meetings.

Candidates like the opportunity to rehearse and put their best foot forward

There’s another benefit to pre-recorded interviews that you don’t get from traditional interviews: practice. Recruiters have the option to allow candidates to record their answers to interview questions multiple times and submit only when they’re ready.

This removes a lot of the pressure from live, in-person meetings. There’s no way around it: the hiring process is stressful. Confident, articulate candidates who are calm under pressure are always going to have a leg up during in-person interviews, regardless of whether they have the skills needed to do the job.

On-demand video interviews aren’t going to change that fact. However, they do create an opportunity to practice answering interview questions without time constraints and from the comfort of home. Hiring teams may get a better read on introverted and thoughtful candidates who add depth to their team but need more than a few seconds to compose their thoughts. Dialing down the pressure and allowing more time and space helps these candidates shine.

Put another way, video interviews emphasize a different yet equally vital set of skills. Qualified candidates who perhaps aren’t the best at interviewing still have the opportunity to stand out through preparation and attention to detail.

The reason why candidates like video interviews says a lot about today’s hiring process

Earlier, I listed three significant benefits to video interviewing: no commute, flexibility, opportunity to stand out.

Those all make logical sense. But humans aren’t always rational creatures. Perhaps that’s why all three responses were dwarfed by the 51% of candidates who said they like video interviewing because it’s new.

If you’re like me, this might be confusing. Because it’s new? Dodging the commute, flexibility in deciding when I take my interview, and knowing I’ll have a chance to stand out from the crowd – those are all very clear, tangible reasons. Newness is not.

So why did the majority tell us that video interviewing is beneficial mainly because it’s something new?

This opinion isn’t a flash in the pan. The ‘newness’ of video interviews has been growing in popularity since we began this survey. In 2016, 45% of respondents said the main benefit of video interviews was not meeting in person. That’s down 21 points today – no small thing given the restrictions on meeting in person we say put in place worldwide last year.

We think this shift in opinion represents a deep dissatisfaction with the current hiring process. We’ve been saying for years that candidate experience is massively important. This sentiment is precisely why.

Many candidates are just plain unsatisfied. Video interviews represent something new and better. While the ‘better’ part is crucial, we’re seeing candidates gravitate towards any positive change to the system.

This isn’t an indictment of the hiring process generally. Instead, it underscores how easy it can be to make lasting, positive change. If how candidates feel about video interviewing technology tells us anything, moving in the right direction matters and doesn’t go unnoticed.

Last but not least: candidates look favorably on employers that use video interviewing

Offering on-demand video interviews says something about who you are as a company, what you value, and how you treat your people. In fact, 83% of candidates see companies more favorably and describe them as “innovative” when using video interviewing software.

A lot goes into the job search equation. Often, candidates are looking for more than just a paycheck. They also weigh out the pros and cons of healthcare coverage, vacation time, commute time, work from home policy, company culture, and other considerations big and small.

One of those considerations is whether you’re cutting edge or lagging behind on technology and how you conduct business. We spend a significant amount of time at work. It’s not unreasonable then that we’d want to know if we’ll be equipped with the tools and support to make our work lives more manageable.

In other words, your candidate experience is indicative of what working for your company is like. It’s a leading indicator for candidates.

It speaks volumes when the talent acquisition software you’re using makes the hiring process easier, offers flexibility, and creates more opportunities for candidates to be seen and heard.


Ready to learn more about the future of work? Click here to see how recruiting has changed – and what you can do about it – in 2021 recruiting strategies.


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