In some ways, hiring looks very similar to what it did twenty years ago. People search for positions, indicate interest, and are filtered down until the most promising candidate is offered a job. However, the technology we use has upgraded considerably over time. Today employers have tools to increase efficiency and efficacy, including video interviews, automated assessments, and more. The question is, is the candidate experience suffering or improving due to these technologies?

Earlier this year, Lighthouse Research performed a study exploring some of the key aspects of hiring with video technology from both candidate and employer perspectives. The pulse survey reached more than 250 individuals and employers, uncovering some interesting findings. Here’s what we found out.

  • Stress Factor: Nearly 8 in 10 job seekers say that video interviews are as stressful or more stressful than in-person interviews.
  • Peer Interviews Matter: 58% of candidates say that peer interviews and interactions would be the best way to attract them with video hiring solutions.
  • Candidates Prefer Video: Nearly 25% more job seekers said they would prefer a live video interview to an in-person interview.
  • Video Equals Value: Candidates believe that resumes are just as valuable as employment tests/assessments (25% each), but half of candidates say that video interviews are the most valuable tool for helping them stand out in the hiring process.

This is really interesting data, so let’s dig into some of these elements below in more detail.

A Stressful, but Valuable, Experience

Interviews, by nature, are stressful experiences by design. Companies know it. Candidates know it. But did you know that job seekers think the video interviewing experience is more challenging? According to the study, 43% of job seekers say video interviews are more stressful than in-person interviews.

For a mid-career professional with several jobs behind them, the person could have participated in five to ten or even more interviews over the course of time. When it comes down to it, getting in front of a camera is a nerve-wracking experience for most people. It’s just not something they are comfortable with.

At first glance, this seems contradictory. After all, do we really think that stressful experiences are a good thing? However, it quickly becomes apparent by looking at the data—candidates believe that video interviews are valuable tools to help them stand out in the hiring process. When asked what helps them stand out in the hiring process, candidates ranked a video interview higher than both resumes and employment assessments.

This is similar to what we see in sports with competition performance. Competitions are inherently stressful experiences, yet athletes look forward to them because they have the opportunity to demonstrate their level of performance. Video interviews are the same way for candidates—while they may be stressful, they also provide a foundation to show off applicable skills, personality traits, and other aspects, hopefully leading to a job offer.

Using Teams to Increase Value

Despite that perception of increased stress, companies have the opportunity to make video interviewing less strenuous. When prompted, candidates ranked the opportunity to connect with peers via video as the number one way to engage them with video interviewing tools.

On the candidate side, you can request this, even if it’s not typically part of the hiring process for some companies. For example, if you make it past the first or second round of interviews, make it a point to ask if you can have the opportunity to connect with a future team member, whether in person or via video. It’s a chance for you to get some “boots on the ground” information from someone that doesn’t have such high stakes in the interviewing process like the hiring manager or recruiter would.

If you get that opportunity, take the time to ask about what the manager’s style is like, how the culture works, and what sorts of projects the team works on. It’s a great time to take a peek into how things operate to make sure it’s something you want to be a part of.

Candidates Prefer Video Interviews

While it may seem to contradict the amount of stress involved, 49% of candidates say a video interview helps them to stand out most in the hiring process. To contrast, just 25% of candidates think a resume is the best way to set themselves apart. The most compelling data from the study comes in the form of candidate preferences. When asked, candidates said they preferred video interviews to in-person interviews by a margin of nearly 25%.

Based on qualitative research, I believe candidates prefer video because it gives them a chance to demonstrate personality and character traits that aren’t apparent in a simple resume. In addition, it can be a low-stakes way to connect with a company that doesn’t involve taking time off work, driving an hour each way to the interview, etc.

Something that really surprised me in the data was the amount of similarity between both survey groups. As the figure below demonstrates, there is a tremendous amount of synergy between both candidates and employers when it comes to beliefs about video interviewing and assessments.

Candidates and Companies in Alignment

Factors Candidate Responses Company Responses
Stress 43% believe video interviews are more stressful than in-person interviews 36% believe video interviews are more stressful experiences for candidates
Candidate Experience 58% say peer interactions are the most valuable aspect of video interviews 61% say peer interactions would be most valuable for attracting top talent
Assessment Preferences 36% think work samples and simulations are best for accurately assessing abilities 42% think work samples and simulations are best predictors of candidate fit
Value 49% say a video interview would help them stand out most in the hiring process 45% say video interviews are most valuable for identifying the right candidates to pursue

Source: 2016 Lighthouse Research Candidate Experience, Video Interviews and Assessments Pulse Survey (n=264)

In the end, I was quite surprised by some of the data received from the study. However, I will be using it to help inform employers of candidate preferences and vice versa. It’s always great to bring both parties together, and this is the first of several research studies to help me accomplish that goal.

What are your thoughts on video interviews? Love them? Hate them? Tell us in the comments.