The Skype’s the limit

The world of video interviewing has moved on a pace in recent years. Initially plagued by unreliable internet connections and poorly pixelated images that made each person look like a character from Minecraft, advances in technology have made the use of video in the recruitment process a more accessible and pleasurable experience.


There is a plethora of video interviewing platforms out there, such as Sonru, HireVue and Sparkhire to name but a few. Each has their own advantages over the other and irrespective of whether you are fan of the format or not, video technology does have its advantages for HR’s – time and cost being the most obvious.


For instance, if you’re a regional law firm and are looking to recruit someone from outside the area, video interviewing is a great way to conduct the initial interview with the need to travel to different offices in other parts of the country. Some platforms even remove the need for anyone from the hiring team to be present altogether, with many providers offering automated video interviewing that replicates face-to-face interviews.


For high volume employers, this approach might work very well as it does allow for interviews to be ‘conducted’ anytime during the day (or night). It also ensures no expense is incurred through no shows.


But for those hiring on a vacancy-by-vacancy basis – and especially for senior roles – it may not be suitable. In these situations, a face-to-face approach is preferable, but this can still be done online using one of the most familiar (and often free) platforms many of us already have – Skype.


It is fair to say that Skype hasn’t always been the favourite video platform for HR’s and hiring managers. Light on features and its inability to fully integrate with most applicant tracking systems, Skype has never really tried to redeem itself as an interview platform of choice.


However, Skype can be an effective tool in your hiring process – providing it used in the most effective way:


  1. Look at the camera not the screen: The eye naturally veers towards the eyes of the person you are interviewing, but the only way to maintain direct eye contact with the interviewee is to look into the camera.
  2. Dress the part: While it may be tempting to be more relaxed when conducting an interview online, treat it the same professionalism as you would if they were coming to the office (at least from the waist upwards!).
  3. Choose your surroundings carefully: Try to conduct the interview in the same room as you would for all in-person interviews, and aim to position the screen so that the interviewee can see the main office in the background. This helps to give them a snippet of what the office environment looks like and makes the interview more engaging and less, well, interview-like.
  4. Avoid distractions: Be sure to close your emails before the interview. There are few things as distracting and annoying as speaking with someone online who receives an email during the conversation – they hear the ‘ping’, you hear it and if you’re tempted to open the email itself they person you are speaking with will see that your focus is no longer on them.
  5. Brand the interview: Chances are you will be using the free version of Skype, and why not?! While you cannot brand the technology, you can brand your surroundings. At this stage, the interviewee won’t be walking into your nicely designed reception area, they won’t see all the awards you have donned on the shelves nor will they be exposed to your brand in the same way that those coming to your offices will be. So ensure there is some visible branding the room you are in, whether it’s the company logo on the wall in the background or a pop-up banner that is used at events.


Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular among hiring managers, but they are most effective when the ‘people’ element is retained.


We have a policy of always meeting each and every candidate before we will consider putting them forward for a role with one of our clients. This ensures that we can identify and those who will be the right personality and cultural fit for the client in question.


It is this approach that employers who recruit legal practitioners from outside their local area and manage their own recruitment activity sometimes struggle with because of the impracticality of doing so. But simple platforms such as Skype can help them. In doing so, as the experience of successfully placing candidates for our clients has shown, employers can increase their prospects of hiring the right people they need for their law firms.