Is It Time to Return to In-Person Interviews?

Monica Lochrie

Since the summer, we have enjoyed an increasing sense of “normality”. The shops have re-opened in full. You can enjoy a drink at a bar. You can watch your favourite sport. You can even hit the dancefloor in a club.

But there’s one element of life that – on the whole – hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic state: the job interview. Whilst some of my clients are dipping their toes back into the in-person interview pool, the vast majority are maintaining video calls as the way of doing things.

So, what I’m about to say may sound controversial to many … I think it’s time we got back to in-person interviews.

I’m not saying discard video altogether, because it can be a valuable, time-saving part of the process. But that’s just it. It’s only part of the process. In-person interviews still have a lot to contribute when it comes to the decision making of both the candidate and the client.

And, since we’re now at a stage where many in-person interviews can be conducted safely (with social distancing, sanitizing, lateral flow tests and track and trace all readily available), here’s why I think it’s important that we start bringing them back.

Culture

What is it like to be part of your company? Can you gauge that from a thirty minute video call? Can you really sell your employer brand via a small screen? I’m finding that many of my candidates are simply not as bought in to the interview process where they are not getting a glimpse of what life at a particular company – including well known brands – is actually like.

Office

Can you really expect someone to commit to hybrid working in an office they’ve never set foot in? What if they have access issues or the environment simply isn’t for them? Can you place dress code expectations on a candidate when video call interviews have remained relatively casual? It’s difficult to really “wow” a candidate with your stand out, state of the art campus when all they’ve seen is the inside of the hiring manager’s living room.

Engagement

Everything has become so disposable on the internet. Experiences start to melt into one another when they all take place on a screen. And since experience creates memory, you’re immediately on the back foot with candidate engagement. What differentiates the thirty minutes of video call time with your company from the other interviews a candidate has?

Candidates

It is really hard to properly assess a candidate via a video call. Body language is almost impossible to decipher when all you can see is a person’s head and shoulders. It can also be very difficult for some people to look engaged on a video call but they would be much more animated in person. Video calls are definitely useful for screening out the “no thank you’s” but for real depth, I believe you need to meet in person.

Success Rate

Anecdotally, my clients who are bringing candidates safely into their offices are winning the war for talent. It feels like a more personal experience and is creating the right impression. All too often, video calls are squeezed in, giving candidates little time to prepare or catching clients in between other meetings. A job interview for making a crucial hire should not be like this. It should take time and thought – it’s not just another video call.

Yes, many candidates are continuing to work remotely so an in=person interview may be an inconvenience. But, from a client’s perspective, I think it shows that you value your potential hire and want to make them feel welcome and engaged.

If the rest of the world is opening up … Shouldn’t job interviews follow suit?

If you’d like to speak to me about hiring high calibre HR candidates for your business, I’d be delighted to discuss your recruitment plans. Whether it’s short term needs or long term strategy, I am happy to help. Click here to drop me an email and get in touch.

 

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