Online dating and recruitment have a lot in common

by Stephanie Zillman11 Jul 2012

You wouldn’t marry someone you had only met online, would you? According to one expert recruiter, hiring someone you have only met online is fraught with risk.

Platforms such as LinkedIn have opened up a worldwide talent pool, but against a backdrop of post-GFC recruitment budgets it’s not always possible to bring out your preferred Zimbabwe-based candidate for an interview.

Enter Skype and the world of virtual recruitment.

Yet, one recruitment expert has warned the time has not yet come for sealing the deal without meeting the candidate at least once face-to-face. There are only a few circumstances where the return would not be outweighed by the risk. “Possibly, for certain types of roles or in certain types of situations where distance or time makes it difficult to have that face-to-face interaction, then people will have to do a cost versus risk assessment against that and make a judgment call,” Andrew Cross of specialist recruitment agency, Ambition told HC.

In cases where a particularly niche skill was required, and there were only a handful of people to choose from, it might be the case to sacrifice concerns over whether they were a ‘nice girl or guy’ in order to get their skillset. When this occurs, Cross said it may be the case that the decision is based on Skype interviews, telephone conversations or some other medium rather than a face-to-face interaction.

Signing the deal without meeting a candidate is fraught with risk, Cross said, and the time for 100% virtual recruitment is not yet here. He commented that in professional fields such as technology and finance, the scars of the GFC era are still healing and most people are exercising due diligence in hiring – protecting both themselves and their organisation from costly mistakes. “If somebody didn’t work out and the question was then asked ‘well why didn’t you pick this up in an interview?’ And the answer was, ’well we never actually met them’ – there would obviously be a bit of a furore,” Cross said.

Yet for initial stage interviews many organisations are capitalising on cost-saving and Skyping their way into narrowing the pool for second round interviews. A market research survey recently found that 42% of companies used video interviews to recruit senior executives, management, and entry-level job functions in the initial stage, compared to just 10% of companies in 2010. Yet despite how commonplace the practice has become, the nuances of conducting a great Skype interview are only starting to be recognised.

Top Skype interview tips

Professionalism rules – don't fall into the trap of being too conversational just because the interview is conducted via Skype.

- Set up a specific Skype account for your interview purposes with a business-appropriate user name and profile picture.

- Just as you would for a traditional interview, ensure interruptions are minimised by shutting your office door or booking a conference room if you work in an open plan.

- Consider logging out of your email for the duration of the interview so you’re not distracted by pop-ups.

Check technical requirements ahead of time – it's important to be familiar with the technology and make sure everything's working.

Be aware of time zones – triple check the time zones to ensure an appointment that works for both parties and you’re not left red-faced by standing them up.

Record your interview – use Skype to its fullest by recording the interview, a feature that allows you to revisit the meeting.

- There's not a direct 'record' button for you to click, but there are several plugins that are compatible with Skype which record video and audio. You can then share the interview with relevant stakeholders and revisit standout candidates.


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  • by Charles van Heerden 11/07/2012 8:06:49 PM

    Working currently across Asia hardly a day goes by without using Skype or Adobe Connect to interact with candidates and managers. Technology is an enabler and should be regarded as a tool.
    It is neither cost effective nor practical to fly people over where you have a matrix organisation with hiring managers in different locations.n

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