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April 10, 2014 / Brad Squibb

The pros and cons of conducting interviews online

As technology continues to expand at an increasingly fast rate, it will come as no surprise that the often tedious process of interviewing candidates is changing dramatically as well. What used to require a long series of in-person interviews is now being replaced by online meetings instead.

Since 2011, the use of video interviews has risen 49 percent, according to theundercoverrecruiter.com. Today, six out of ten HR managers use video in some capacity to interview candidates – an option that is both flexible and economical. There’s no doubt that online interviewing is convenient for both the hiring manager and the interviewee, but is something getting lost in translation?

Some argue there’s no difference between interviewing a person face-to-face or online. Both allow you to observe a candidate’s body language along with his or her answers, after all. Others insist online interviewing doesn’t allow the deep insights that speaking to someone in person can provide – an argument founded in the belief that if you want to see how someone will work with others in person, you must first conduct an interview in person.

Some of the major pros of online interviewing include:

  1. Saves time – No commuting for the candidate, no conference room reservations required for the hiring manager.
  2. Convenient – Everyone has a computer these days and it is easy for both parties to hop online to conduct an interview.
  3. Tests technical know-how – Using video demonstrates a candidate’s ability to utilize technology to make human connections, a skill that can be in high demand.

Some of the major drawbacks of online interviewing include:

  1. Connectivity issues – Technology doesn’t always work at 100 percent, and a poor Internet connection or unexpected lag times can diminish the value of an online interview fast.
  2. Limited body language – Body language plays a major factor in a hiring decision, and when video focuses mostly on the face, a hiring manager doesn’t get to observe the whole picture (such as a candidate who was fidgeting under the desk out of view).
  3. Visual limitations – From bad lighting to poor camera technology, how a person looks on video is not always representative of what he or she would look like in person.

While some hiring managers choose to fully go one way or the other, they often choose a mix of both online and in-person interviewing. Many start with online interviews until they narrow down candidates and identify the top talent, only then scheduling in-person meetings for those people.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to do what is right for your business. An e-commerce company with a sales force that functions virtually might appreciate observing a candidate’s mannerisms online. A charter school looking to hire a principal who will work closely with teachers and students may feel more comfortable meeting candidates face to face. As long as the best candidate is found and hired in the end, the ultimate goal will have been achieved.