The Pros and Cons of Digital Interviews

According to U.S. News & World Report, 17 percent of the U.S. workforce telecommutes. Companies are using technological capabilities to cut the substantial costs of recruiting.

Three popular types of digital interviews are live video interviews, on-demand interviews, and collaborative desktop sharing.

Each kind of digital interview has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Live Video Interview

A live video interview is an inexpensive digital connection between two or more people that nicely simulates a face-to-face interview. Both parties need a broadband connection, webcam, and a microphone. Both also need a software application, such as Skype, to connect the two parties. The biggest advantage to a live video interview is the time and cost saved by both parties from meeting in person. Even a short drive across town can be impractical for a candidate who only has a lunch hour for the interview. Employers can interview distant candidates and save thousands on travel and hotel expenses.

While an interview by live video is the closest thing to a traditional interview, it can be awkward. Eye contact is tricky in a live digital interview. Each party must train themselves to make “webcam contact.” Instead of looking at each other, each party must look at the webcam to simulate eye contact. If one looks at the screen, he seems to be looking down, conveying disinterest. This drawback to the interview may make digital interviews seem impersonal.

On-Demand Digital Interviews

An on-demand interview is an asynchronous method of performing an interview. The prospective employer pre-records interview questions and the prospective candidate can answer the questions at the time they apply for the job. This eliminates the two-step process of filling out the application and then interviewing for the job. Employers can choose the interviews they’d like to view.

There are pros and cons to this approach. On-demand interviews allow employers to standardize their interview process. They can see how their top candidates answer the same important questions. Several managers can view the interview for collaborative decision-making. On-demand interviews are advantageous for candidates whose top strength is the interview, allowing them to display professionalism that may not show on an application or résumé.

The primary drawback of an on-demand interview is the non-transitory nature of the asynchronous interview. Some believe a lot can be gauged from a person’s spontaneous response to some questions, particularly for high-stress jobs. In addition, on-demand interviews do not allow the interviewer to follow up on important issues that come up in a synchronous interview.

Collaborative Desktop Sharing

Collaborative desktop sharing is a type of interview during which two parties can view one person’s computer desktop. Some applications also allow each party to view one another in the corner of the monitor as they talk. The biggest advantage of this type of digital interview is it allows both parties to discuss the tasks the candidate would perform on the job. Both parties can gauge whether the job is a good fit. Some companies hire workers for a trial period, and use collaborative desktop sharing to train candidates.

The major disadvantage of collaborative desktop sharing is it may be costlier than a face-to-face interview. If employers use it for more than just interviews, the cost is likely justified. Collaborative desktop sharing software packages typically cost $50-$350 a month for one user. A second disadvantage of this type of digital interview is it can reveal a company’s proprietary information to potential candidates.

While the technology for digital interviews has made it about as good as face-to-face meetings, there are some drawbacks to all digital interviews. A potential candidate cannot, for instance, tour the facilities or drive around the community to get a feel for it. However, the benefits usually outweigh the costs for both parties, particularly when multiple interviews are necessary for both employer and candidate to make a match.