Ed van der Sande, Managing Partner, Odgers Berndtson Amsterdam and Head of the Technology and Services practice, speaks to Walter Hueber, CEO at Cammio – a cloud-based video interviewing platform – about the application of video to executive search.

Why is video technology so pervasive now?

Increasingly, we communicate visually and are comfortable presenting ourselves through images and videos, especially the selfie generation, which now stretches from 8 to 88. We can share videos on LinkedIn and Facebook. Photos have overtaken text as our preferred way to communicate online.

In addition, our attention spans are shrinking. We are all becoming more impatient in how we communicate and increasingly require instant visual gratification. Online candidate assessments, for example, are becoming shorter in response to this trend.

These trends result in video becoming a more pervasive tool for scouting talent far and wide and capturing an authentic impression of a candidate, faster than ever before.

What executive search challenges can this technology address?

The first challenge is that we increasingly see fewer and fewer candidates per role being considered. Companies often view the process as a search for the one person that fits a certain mould. We should rethink the mould. Maybe, there could be someone from an entirely different sector that would expand and redefine the role.

We really need to ask ourselves, are there too few candidates available? Or are we thinking too narrowly about what and who we need in this role? Technology can help companies cast a wider net and do it efficiently too.

The second challenge in executive search is that companies can be quite slow moving. When the recruitment process takes too long, quality people drop out of the running or are snapped up by more agile companies. A candidate may feel like a VIP when first approached for a position, but they can quickly lose interest if the process is drawn-out, takes too long and communication is lacking. Using technology to streamline the search process benefits everyone. Recruitment processes that include some form of video interviews can speed up the selection process by up to two weeks on average.

How does it work?

The most powerful channel of non-verbal communication is the human face. When you are asked a question, you think about what you are going to say, and when you speak, language adds to what you have already communicated non-verbally. Video technology and advanced software now make it possible to collect and analyse large quantities of data— from a person’s micro-expressions to their speech patterns—and this helps to predict certain outcomes.

Video interviews provide trustworthy data as they are very difficult to fake. Subtle nonverbal cues—facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice—can betray someone who is giving inconsistent answers or trying to influence others’ perception of them.

The software collects data from the video and turns that into text that can then be analysed with respect to verbal reasoning patterns, word choice and sentence structure. We then perform a further analysis involving up to thirty variables, like extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability, etc.

The final analysis considers subject matter competency, which comes through in the candidates’ substantive answers to interview questions. One conversation in a video can, therefore, create a very comprehensive candidate profile which previously used to take several steps over a prolonged period. 

Does introducing a visual element risk increasing discrimination in hiring?

Actually, using video, analytics and recruitment management technologies can help identify and reduce unconscious bias. One study even found that, in certain jobs, minority applicants helped to bypass the bias of CV-based screening with a video interview. It allowed them to better present themselves and connect on a personal level.

Companies can still use blind screening techniques to identify candidates with certain skills and qualifications before watching candidate videos or setting up that first video interview. In any case, keeping candidates anonymous further into the interview process does not guarantee that the root causes of discrimination will disappear. Having more information actually enables better and fairer decision-making with a higher predictive value.

In short, incorporating videos and other technology into the search process can increase equality and diversity in hiring.

What are the other advantages of using a video interview platform?

Having an initial conversation with a candidate online saves a lot of time. Automating part of this process is also a natural step given the larger automation trends we are seeing throughout the economy. For example, chatbots that can call candidates to begin the process or automated matching technologies.

Further, assessing candidates from a CV alone should really be a thing of the past. Text on paper (or in a database fed by an application form) gives a very limited, one-dimensional, historic view of the candidate. Adding a video component adds future potential and changes the recruitment game.

Pre-screening conversations are different with every candidate, which makes them difficult to compare and assess. A process that doesn’t set up a level playing field, so to speak, makes for an unpredictable outcome. An online video interview allows you to set clear parameters up front and specify the themes to be discussed. Timestamps can be used to make the process efficient and focused. In this way, the same structure is used with all candidates, making them much more comparable.

What other benefits are there?

Companies can create videos to entice candidates as well. Showing—instead of telling—them about a dynamic and interesting opportunity in a growing company, for example, and setting out their expectations for the role from the beginning. Images and video instantly communicate so much more than multiple conversations can convey.

Are there any stumbling blocks?

When we implement video interviewing for clients, there is often a challenge with regards to adoption and change management. Companies feel wedded to their traditional search and interview processes and a busy HR department may simply be too stressed to adopt a new technological advancement, even if it will save them time in the long run.

My advice is to start small and be incremental when it comes to adopting new technologies. Ask yourself what you need to achieve and whether a given solution will measurably move you towards that goal. Otherwise, technological change becomes harder to implement and justify.

The key question to ask is as follows. Will implementing video interviews fit with the type of candidate we are seeking? Will it add value to the candidate experience? If the answer is yes, embracing a new and innovative solution like video can be truly transformative.

Thank you, Walter.

It’s amazing how quickly digital technology and online platforms are changing the way we work – and for the better! Thanks for sharing your insights on innovations in video interviewing technology with us.

Odgers Berndtson’s global Technology Practice works with businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, to recruit executives with the strategic skill set to deliver their business objectives.

Ed van der Sande

Ed van der Sande is the Managing Partner of the Dutch office of Odgers Berndtson, where he leads the Business Services & Technology practice. Ed is a trusted advisor to a number of organisations i...

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