In this day and age, it seems many of the ‘youth of today’ are desperate to get on the TV. Hence the hours of queuing to get two minutes of air time on the X factor, Britain’s Got Talent, The Voice, Big Brother, Ex on the beach and other vacuous programmes. Some of us however, recoil in horror faced at the prospect of appearing on a TV screen. Sadly however, it would seem that as the digital age continues to develop, we are being forced to appear on some sort of screen – whether it’s video conferencing at work, Sykping relatives abroad or Face Timing with friends.
The business of interviewing has also been caught up with this televisual phenomenon. It used to be a thoroughly intimate experience. You’d turn up at a firm, wait nervously in reception, and then some partner and/or self important HR manager would swan in and lead you off to an interview room for a thorough probing.
Interviewing is evolving however, much like everything else. Many firms will conduct interviews by Skype where there is a location issue – if the candidate is based abroad or even based in a different city to the interviewers. This type of arrangement, I can understand. It gets around the logistical problems and although not the perfect setting, allows both parties to get the measure of each other and find out whether the candidate/role is worth pursuing. However, firms such as DWF and Bird & Bird are introducing video interviewing as a matter of course for some roles.
For the firm, the commercial argument is pretty compelling. They can save substantial amounts of time and money by not interviewing face-to-face. Firms say, with some justification, that the time saved by not conducting face-to-face interviews allows them to assess more people, often from a wider selection of backgrounds. This can be seen as crucial to delivering their social mobility promise. Firms also claim video interviewing is more candidate-centric, as it allows candidates to be assessed at a time and in a location that suits them best. I can envisage this type of interview process working well for a first ‘sift’ of would be ‘vacation schemers’ or even applicants for training contracts. But what about when you get down to the nitty gritty and have a shortlist to choose from or when recruiting for qualified solicitor positions? Interviewing by video provides little opportunity to build rapport – an essential element for both the candidate and the hiring manager. Will they actually get on and be able to work together? It’s doubtful you’d be able to tell from a video conference interview.
Personally, I think if given the chance to interview in person, you should always take that opportunity, even if it means taking time off work and the inconvenience of travelling to and from an interview. You’ll do a much better job of impressing your interviewers and conveying enthusiasm for the role by attending in person than squinting into a cold, anonymous PC screen.