Over the last several years, industries across the U.S. have undergone a sudden and profound digitalization. Everything from paperwork to interoffice communications are now handled almost exclusively online. But more recently, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out, the latest trend in the electron expansion of the U.S. workforce is video interviews.
With little more than a webcam and a decent internet connection, job seekers can and employers can meet virtually for this most crucial component of the employment process. For many companies, these video interviews are a cost-cutting measure, but they invite the question: Are they as effective as so many executives believe them to be?
The Benefits of Video
It's worth noting that there are at least a few important benefits to video interviews, as U.S. News and World Report explained. For one, it's great at saving time, as people don't need to travel in order to meet. Additionally, these interviews can take place outside of normal business hours, which is a huge help for hiring managers with a loaded schedule. Because of the extra time saved, many recruiters and other executives can pack more interviews into their day. That means positions don't remain open for quite as long. Finally, embracing video interviews sends a message to future employees, one that demonstrates the open and progressive nature of the company. That, in turn, can go a long way toward developing or modifying a corporate brand.
A Matter of Costs
When considering costs in regard to video interviews, it's important to recognize that this approach has some noticeable impact. Christine Tautari is the executive director of video interview provider "The Needle." Speaking with Rullion Solutions, she said that by implementing video interviews, companies have saved significantly. Based on 300 hires, The Needle's partner companies saved 35 percent by switching from telephone to video and 75 percent as part of the swap from in-person meetings to video conferences. These costs are based on a number of different factors, including travel for the job seeker, hourly rates for the interviewer and time per interview, among other considerations.
In an extensive feature, Workforce magazine offered similar cost-cutting sentiments. One recruiter the magazine interviewed said they went from spending $10,000 per job search to just $500. These are real, concrete savings that matter to companies.
Another Word on Expenses
In the same Workforce piece, another recruiter argued that the purported cost-cutting measures of video interviews come with a few notable downsides. Specifically, Greg Rokos of GreenJobInterview said that his company used a service that, as mentioned above, cost roughly $500. Yet the technology was flawed, and didn't allow for executives to sit in on the video conference via multiple connection points. Though videoconferencing centers are an increasingly popular option, their centralized locations mean travel costs for prospective employees and executives alike. And while not a financial cost, there are other deficits presented by these interviews. Namely, they sacrifice the all-too-important human element.
In her research paper "Industrial and Business Services Firms: Is Physical Proximity Necessary," economics expert Dr. Fabienne Picard argued physical proximity can have a huge impact on businesses. In regard to industry and business services in particular, these in-person interactions are important for building essential bonds that help drive a company's efforts forward and facilitate growth and innovation. Try as they might, even the most technologically advanced video interviews can't replicate this phenomenon perfectly.
Letting HR Step Up
If nothing else, some of these added expenses just go to demonstrate there may be more effective ways to save both time and energy. Much of that process centers around a company's HR department. Outsourcing, for instance, is a great way for these HR leaders to cut costs. Between tasks related to recruiting and medical benefits to payroll and even certain legal actions, outsourcing is an effective way to cut costs across the entire board. Beyond outsourcing certain components, improved technology is another easy way to reduce needless spending.
Cloud services are becoming integral to companies everywhere. Per data from a Gartner survey, clouds helped save over $14.5 billion annually in 2012. Technology not only helps curb costs , but it frees up precious time otherwise spent dealing with clunky systems. It's these extra moments that can then be invested back into the company and used on a number of tasks, including recruiting and developing employees.
There is no reason to stop using video interviews outright, as they serve some purpose. Instead, companies must recognize the true ratio of cost versus benefit and approach the interview process accordingly.
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