Live video interviews have been used for several years in different forms to support the candidate interview screening process of the recruiting practice. However, it is only recently that it has taken off.

Several years ago, live video interviews required recruiters to ship a webcam to the applicant because not every device was equipped with a camera. Although this seemed costly and inconvenient, it was still less expensive than having the candidate fly to meet in-person with the interviewers. Video interview solution providers charged between $100-$200 per video interview, which restricted the use of video to highlevel positions. More recently, the rising adoption of the cloud, the commoditization of built-in cameras, and competitive pressures have significantly lowered the cost of conducting live video interviews.

For candidates that apply to remotely located jobs, live video can be used during the entire recruiting process. For local candidates, live video is mainly used at three stages of the recruiting process:

- Pre-screening interviews, replacing audio calls; - In-person interviews in which a recruiter may invite a remotely located colleague(s) to participate; and, - Follow-up calls to negotiate the terms of employment.

In 2013, 32% of organizations participating in Aberdeen’s talent acquisition research said they were investing in video interviewing (which includes asynchronous video, as well as live video), an increase of 52% compared to 2012. According to this survey, “live video interviewing” was seen by 68% of the respondents as the top key capability far ahead of “recording live interviews,” which came second with 19%. Even though these numbers tell us that HR professionals value interviewing candidates with live video, it should not mask the various road blocks that HR departments may still encounter when using this approach.

Poor video quality or a lack of integration can easily transform a simple live video interview into an unbearable experience. To help you avoid common pitfalls when choosing a live video interviewing solution, I am introducing a canvas of five requirements to prevent such challenges. With this canvas in mind, there is no longer an excuse to not leverage live video interviews in 2014, making the future happen now!

Assessing Live Video Interviewing Solutions in Five Steps

#1 – Live video accurately emulates an in-person interview.

During an in-person interview, the recruiter and the candidate engage in a conversation where both verbal and non-verbal communication nurtures each other’s opinions. Facial expressions are very important to correctly interpret the meaning of what is being said, and experiencing this quality of interaction whenever possible is a key success factor in making well informed hiring decisions. In the case of a remote interview, only a live video can help capture these nuances to emulate the richness of an in-person interaction. However, many live video solutions fall short of delivering on this promise. Dropped calls, poor audio and video quality are common complaints from recruiters who have tried a variety of such solutions in the past.

There are multiple factors that can affect and deteriorate the quality of the communication including:

- Participants connecting from a poor Internet connection; - Participants thousands of miles away from each other; - A large number of participants on the call; and, - Participants using a camera hardware that renders poor video quality.

Poor camera hardware occurs less frequently due to improvements in the specifications of built-in camera hardware and the quick rotation of devices used. The quality of the live video can now also be positively affected. In fact, live video solutions that rely on a robust and scalable cloud video platform can efficiently optimize the quality of the video even in the toughest conditions (3G network connectivity, long-distance calls, dozens of participants). To ensure good video quality, best-in-class live video solutions sit on carrier-grade networks with dedicated private Internet links, as well as guaranteed bandwidth. Real-time video platforms are globally distributed and group video is enabled by multipoint control units (as opposed to mesh networks that can’t control quality). These technology components create a solid foundation for what can be an awesome live video experience for both the recruiter and the candidate. Although recruiters cannot address the video components of their candidates, they will want to select providers who built their solution on a solid platform in order to take advantage of core live video benefits.

Check mark these capabilities before buying:

✓ The live video solution guarantees a minimum of 25 to 30 frames per second.

✓ The live video solution offers HD video up to 720 pixels.

✓ The live video solution consumes between 100 to 250 Kbps of bandwidth for a one-to-one video call and no more than 500 kbps of bandwidth for a group video call with six participants.

✓ The live video solution has an auto-adaptive mechanism to adjust the resolution to the environment, i.e., reduce number of frames per second when bandwidth is low.

#2 - Live video calls are established in only a few seconds.

The main reason why making a phone call is still the go-to choice for most recruiters during pre-screening interviews is because it takes only a few seconds to get the interview started after dialing the candidate’s number. At this stage, recruiters want to qualify the candidates and to do it quickly. They can’t afford to lose 5 minutes waiting for candidates to download an app, creating an account or logging into a service. As a matter of fact, recruiters will tell you that they will not change their habits for live video if candidates cannot be connected as fast as they could be with a phone call. Thankfully, an emerging technology called WebRTC can enable recruiters to establish a video chat directly from web browsers (Chrome and Firefox at this time) without requiring any download. WebRTC makes live video calls as frictionless as phone calls. The workflow for the recruiter would be:

1) The recruiter clicks on “start an interview” button in the app, and an invite e-mail containing a link is sent automatically to the candidate. 2) The candidate clicks on the link and then, without a need for a download, the candidate is connected via live video that is contained in a web page. The interview can start!

Check mark these capabilities before buying:

✓ Participants can join a live video call without any download (based on WebRTC).

✓ Candidates can join the live video call without having to create a user account or to log into a service.

#3 - Live video empowers real-time collaboration.

Beyond the benefits associated with face-to-face communication, live video can also enable a more collaborative process that aligns with best recruiting practices. The decision of choosing the right candidate for the job often involves several individuals within the organization, some of whom are remotely located. Such team interviewing requirements result in an exhausting series of interviews, from a candidate’s perspective. Meanwhile, hiring managers want to give everyone involved in the recruiting process the opportunity to provide their informed opinion. Hence, a panel interview format (inviting several interviewers to participate at the same time) has become a popular practice. It makes the process leaner and more efficient. For positions that require the assessment of different skill sets, involving a domain expert in the panel becomes possible. Experts may even limit their participation to only part of the interview. Live video solutions that support group video calls make this format easy to organize.

Taking this a step further, I would strongly recommend that recruiters look at solutions that offer additional real-time capabilities such as screen sharing.

Screen sharing is a great feature to quickly share content (either a document or their screen) with the recruiter in order to emphasize an achievement listed in the résumé. Consider the example of a UX designer position; the candidate can showcase their previous design projects by sharing a screen.

Live video is not just about how video trumps the clarity that recruiters gain over an audio call. By helping the recruiting team to get a more complete perspective on a candidate and to reach a consensus faster, the bottom line is that such real-time collaboration is saving time!

Check mark these capabilities before buying:

✓ Recruiters can organize group video interviews.

✓ Recruiters and candidates can share their screens.

#4 - Live video is enterprise-grade.

Do chefs cook gourmet meals using commercial-grade cookware supplies? We won’t go further into a chef’s selection process, but let’s discuss why recruiters should use enterprise-grade live video solutions rather than a consumer-grade video chat app. Many live video solutions being sold to recruiters as a non-consumer-grade solution are not enterprise-grade either, since they may lack the following key elements:

- Security of the communications; - User management; - Network compatibility; and, - High-definition and fluid video (discussed already in #1).

Security applied to live video means that the privacy of the communication session must be protected with encryption standards such as 256-bit AES. Proprietary encryption methods, such as the one used by Skype, do not guarantee that the communication will be kept private.

User management is all about knowing and acting upon the persons authorized to use and access the service (entirely or partially). Recruiters (or whoever is the administrator of the service), for example, should be able to monitor usage analytics.

The connection type, whether enterprise or residential, is important and can range from LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, xDSL, or VPN without any specific configuration. Which network will the candidate connect from? Will my live video solution be compatible with this network? Enterprise-grade solutions are compatible with all of these networks. Recruiters who use one of these live video solutions don’t have to bother with these questions.

Check mark these capabilities before buying:

✓ The live video solution ensures secure communications with encryption standards.

✓ The live video solution offers user management capabilities.

✓ The live video solution works on any network.

#5 - Live video is integrated into recruiters’ workflow.

Sourcing, screening, interviewing, assessing, and managing candidates make recruitment a complex process. Thankfully, by consolidating all of these capabilities in a single place, software can make a recruiters’ job much easier. Today, most adopted applications for recruiting are either standalone applicant tracking systems (ATS) or Talent Management suites. As reported by Aberdeen Group in April 2013, hiring managers wish to avoid creating new silos by using standalone live video solutions: “Organizations are seeking a single provider to support all of their video needs. Organizations are even including video interviewing as a key requirement in ATS.” This leaves ATS and Talent Management software providers with two options to satisfy recruiters’ needs:

1) They integrate their application with existing standalone live video interview solutions. 2) They provide a live video feature that is natively embedded into their application.

Opting for the first option, Cornerstone announced at its 2013 annual conference a partnership with HireVue, a standalone video recruiting solution, to provide video interview capabilities into Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud. Software providers that prefer to keep the live video feature under their own brand may give priority to the second approach. The challenge with this one is that live video is not an easy feature to build from the ground-up. It requires highly skilled staff to deploy and manage an infrastructure specifically designed to support real-time video. Furthermore, this infrastructure needs to be globally distributed since recruiters may want to interview candidates located on the other side of the planet.

Fortunately, cloud video platform providers such as Weemo take on the hard job of managing this infrastructure. By leveraging those platforms, software providers can embed live video into their application in less than a day, while having total control over the user experience. For recruiters, this means that live video interviewing is only a single click away from the application they use every day. Yes, that’s right! They can schedule and launch a live video interview without having to log into a separate application. These two actions can simply be materialized by two buttons being embedded into a recruiter’s Talent Management solutions.

Check mark these capabilities before buying:

✓ The live video feature is embedded into applications that recruiters use to manage recruitment activities (Talent Management solution or ATS).

✓ Recruiters can start a live video interview with a single click directly from this application.

✓ Recruiters can start a live video interview in a single click directly from this application

The Future of Live Video Interviewing for HR Departments

While live video steadily grows in acceptance and is poised to become a standard practice for pre-screening interviews and gain traction in other HR practices such as knowledge sharing and training, its adoption will be driven by how it is delivered. Human Resources teams never really embraced the legacy hardware video conferencing systems as a convenient option, and while consumer-grade video chat has had its moment, recruiters have come to realize that this is not suitable for professional usage. On the other hand, standalone video interview solutions have definitely penetrated the market during the last few years, but can it be the future of live video interviewing?

At Weemo, we think that the future of live video is to be ubiquitous and accessible from the applications recruiters use every day to do their job. Many analysts foresee a similar transformation; as commented by Jim Lundy, lead analyst at Aragon Research in an article published in June 2013 on the topic of social human capital management: “By year-end 2015, most recruiting solutions will include video”. Thanks to a video cloud platform such as the one provided by Weemo, we predict that embedded live video will be here even sooner!

“This article was originally published in March 2014 in the Workforce Solutions Review, the journal of IHRIM”