Video Job Interviews: Opening up Opportunity or Inequity for job seekers?

Anyone currently in the job market may at some point apply for a role that has a pre-interview video screening component.

Not a Skype interview, which admittedly comes with its own set of challenges but is far more commonplace given the global outreach of so many firms wanting to scout far and wide for talent.

No, I’m talking a pre-recorded interview: Sent to you as a link with a set of questions not dissimilar to those you would be asked in a regular face-to-face or phone interview and which you’re required to answer within a time limit.

The first time I did a video job interview was for a massive telecommunications company about three years ago. After applying for the position, I received an email asking me to complete a short video job interview that would not take me longer than around 30 minutes. Each question was ‘asked’ by a real person (well, a video of a real person), and I had up to 4 attempts to nail it (meaning it ended up taking me about an hour given I couldn’t help but use each of the four chances to try and get my best answer recorded!)

A more recent video job interview was less fancy: a series of on-screen questions, an unlimited number of attempts to complete it and a post-video online questionnaire.

Both came with clear instructions, easy-to-use platforms and a range of guides or tips on how to make the most of the experience.

All (seemingly) very friendly and non-confronting…


Ok, that’s exaggerating, but they certainly weren’t ideal, and despite the chance to keep at it until you offered up your best answer, I do question their effectivenesss around candidate screening.

I appreciate that as hiring tools, video interviews allow for a larger initial intake of applications, possibly getting a whole group of people past the initial hurdle of a written application they are just not so great at but who conceivably may shine when appraised face to face. This greater volume of initial candidates thus provides a much broader cross-section of candidates and ultimately mean the best is chosen later down the interview track.

However, there are downside that are in effect preventing some from continuing with the process and allowing others to get further than they might otherwise.

Assumption about access to technology is the most pressing downside.

While most in the employment window of their lives might be thought as having access to a desktop or laptop or smartphone or tablet with which to record their interviews, there will be candidates who do not.

Sure, they could go to an internet cafe or local library or ask a friend or family member to borrow a device with which to complete the video job interview, but this puts them immediately at a disadvantage.

Generally, I don’t believe this a conscious weaponisation of the video job interview against candidates without access to tech. And over time as digital becomes all pervasive, it’s hard to imagine that most prospective employees won’t be able to complete this part of the process.

But in the interim, video job interviews may be slighly counter productive as a barrier to some potentially highly suitable candidates seeking employment.

There is also something to be said for this screening technique to be gamed. Just google the term video job interview and the results bear testament to others who’ve been through the process and can offer up all kinds of tips and tricks to get through this part of the process unscathed and to the next round of candidates.

Notwithstanding such, the ability to re-record answers until you get your “best take” also has an inauthentic ring. With echoes of Hollywood about it, it essentially means with the help of filters, good lighting, make-up and more takes than an online video dating profile, you can put your “best” (read: most fake, least authentic) foot forward and quite possibly earn a star on the Walk of Fame!

Maybe there’s a new category for the Oscars in a few years time…

This, if anything, creates potential headaches for recruiters who, despite being aware of such, will be a little blinded by the zing and bling under the pressures of getting through the recruitment process.

Despite this, the reality is that video job interviews are here to stay and will in all likelihood be more and more used.

For some, this will be a boon — they will shine and end up getting further through the process than they might otherwise because they are either on-cam naturals or know how to fake it til they make it.

For others, it will be problematic as they face a situation where they either don’t have access to the tech to complete this stage of the interview or are just plain uncomfortable with the technique, yet possibly warm and genuine in a real-time face-to-face situation.

Might be time to set up that “video job interview” skills training video on Youtube I was thinking about…



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Young Apprentice AKA PB

Young Apprentice AKA PB

Writer, editor, content dude, digital disruptor. Politics. Arts. Tech. Travel. Food. Film. The Force. Digital Nomad. Citizen of the universe. Coffee. Always.