Screening Candidates Via Video – good idea?

I stumbled across this interesting new tool and concept called Ziggeo via the Swiss Miss blog. I’ve seen something similar before; a tool for recording candidate videos and then reviewing them prior to any phone or face to face meeting.

In some respects I can see tools and services like this being quite useful, particularly if you are recruiting for someone who may have to do presentations, webinars, videos etc as part of their role. But I’d suggest caution with adopting something like this in full swing for your recruiting of testers and developers.

Not everyone will feel comfortable recording a video of themselves answering questions. Is it fair to put people under these conditions if they’re unlikely to ever encounter this type of work in the role you are offering? Will you end up losing out on candidates because they don’t feel comfortable? Is being able to record a video of yourself essential for the role you have?

It’s also a dangerous way to let your pre-conceptions and biases consciously or unconsciously play an effect before you’ve even spoken to them. You could find yourself rejecting people who fall in to certain camps before you’ve even got to know them.

Ever hear of the story of how women are more likely to be selected for orchestras if they do “blind” auditions? –  Do you believe you’ll not be party to certain biases when reviewing a video?

You could argue though that the same is true when doing Phone/Skype interviews and even face to face. Yep – there is some element to that, but at least you’re speaking to the person and having a conversation; they have more control over their responses and ability to change your mind.

The text on the Ziggeo page states:

“Have you ever interviewed someone and knew within the first 20 seconds that the meeting was a complete waste of time? “

Yes I have, but then I’ve had my mind changed by these very same people.

Nerves, poor questions, bad interview environments, mis-aligned expectations on both sides can all lead to wanting to reject candidates before you’ve got to know them.

First impressions make a big difference – don’t get me wrong, but so too does the way a candidate answers a question, or the attitude they have, or the connections you might sense during an interview. Much of what you see in the first impressions in an interview might not be the “baseline” or “normal” behavior of the candidate. Only when they relax do you start to see the real person.

Would a video show the real side of someone? Or the side that is nervous, uncomfortable and feeling really uneasy about the whole process?

However I could see this service being very useful for certain roles and jobs, and some people would have no quarms about the medium. I think it’s an idea worth exploring during your recruitment and it could give you some insights and pre-filtering to help you. It could also result in you losing out on good candidates.

What do you think?

Would you feel comfortable recording yourself asking questions?


Note: I should also point out that the service is also aimed at people finding room mates, baby sitters etc.


2 thoughts to “Screening Candidates Via Video – good idea?”

  1. Well in my case I have a strong feeling that such an recruitment process would play strongly in my favour since I’m a public speaker, love to speak, and tend to do very well at interviews in general.

    However I think you are dead right when saying that this tool probably will filter out a lot of potentially excellent candidates that just don’t like recording a film.
    And if you would have to take all that into account as a recruiter when I evaluate the films, then I would question what the value the solution brings at all, it might even just be a big waste of your time, time you could spend on other stuff.

    One other examples of impressions during interviews is my own story.
    When I was recruited as a test developer for a company called UIQ Technology I was put through a grilling interview of first a 1 hour session with the test manager and a test lead on my testing skills, me as a person etc.
    And straight after that I had to go through another 1 hour session with the team lead for the test developers plus a test developer, and I had to perform “live coding” on a whiteboard in front of them including the test lead and test manager.

    Again I have no problem with this, so I put on a good show, and also managed to show solid knowledge into coding and the Symbian OS, I aced it 🙂

    A couple of years later I was the team lead for the same team and I was about to recruit a tester from the test team that wanted to become a test developer.
    So naturally I did the same thing to him.
    I took a test developer colleague of mine, we both knew the person being interviewed well and we got along very well.
    We asked him to perform a coding task on the white board.
    The poor fellow was so nervous he totally froze up and performed dismally, although we knew he could code so it was a major surprise to us.
    In the end we had to scrap that exercise and just sit down and have conversation about the problem and he then performed brilliantly.

    1. Hi Kristoffer,

      Interesting story of your recruitment experience and how the nerves can sometimes get the better of people. Dev teams often have a good mix of people, some who relish this sort of approach (like me and you) and others who will crumble and fall. The trick is applying a nice balance to get the team you need, which it sounds like you’ve been party to.

      I like your point:
      “And if you would have to take all that into account as a recruiter when I evaluate the films, then I would question what the value the solution brings at all, it might even just be a big waste of your time, time you could spend on other stuff.” – I’d deffo agree.

      Thanks for commenting

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