Sunday, December 10, 2006

Video interviewing with HireVue

Friday I had a discussion with Mark Newman, the COO and co-founder of HireVue.

What is HireVue? The company's bread and butter is video interviews. But as I found out from my conversation with Mark, there's a lot more here than meets the eye.

First, the basics.

Video capturing candidates can be accomplished in two main ways:

1) The customer has webcams on-site--say, at a career center or college recruiting location. Candidates come in and take interviews either at a scheduled time or you could do first-come-first-serve. HireVue charges $19.95 per interview for these.

2) The candidate wants to do the interview at their home or a location of their choice. In this case they can either use their own camera or HireVue can ship one to them. Cost: $149 per interview.

Candidates are able to see what they're going to look like and have up to 2 minutes to answer each question. They can pause the recording at any time to collect themselves, and once the interview has been recorded it is uploaded to HireVue's servers and is immediately available for viewing.

The 'owner' of the account (typically a recruiter I would think) can then send information to the hiring manager/subject matter expert(s) to rate the interviews and the system can combine ratings of multiple judges.

Now, the complexity...

Here's where things get really interesting:

- This system isn't just for video interviews--you can combine a video interview with multiple-choice questions or essay questions, and you can filter results based on answers to any of these types of items.

- You can record an "introduction" video that candidates see prior to taking the test. This could be anything from a "Hi, thanks for coming" to a full blown job preview video that's already been recorded.

- Although the system uses a basic "number of stars" system to judge candidates, you can easily provide a detailed rating scale to the raters on screen while they are viewing the candidate.

- The graphical menu that pops up when viewing a response allows you to quickly move back and forth among different candidates to compare answers to a particular question.

HireVue's been doing all this for about 18 months, but I just found out about it. Apparently most of their business is coming from word of mouth.

Possible downsides? Some folks might be more nervous taking a video interview than a panel interview (I'm not one of them). Some might be turned off by what they perceive to be an impersonal process. You'll need DSL or above speeds. You may have some raters who simply don't like the feeling of reviewing videos. Finally, the quality is not perfect--it's enough to make out what the person looks like and general emotions, but you won't be staring at beads of sweat. You can see an example of the quality and the interface here.

For me, the biggest advantage of something like this is flexibility. For situations where it's particularly difficult to get panels together this would be a boon. Also, it's more flexible for candidates in that they could come in on their own time and if they get the jitters, no big deal--they could always come back, with no loss of face.

The company's looking to personalize the product in 2007 by doing things like integrating it better with customer websites so it feels more seamless.

More details about HireVue can be found here and here.

One last good piece of information I gleaned from Mark: the webcam they prefer is the Logitech Communicate STX. I think I just thought of another Christmas gift for myself.


George said...

As an employment lawyer, I would caution against using this tool as a substitute for blind screening of paper or electronic resumes and applications.

There is no good reason for accelerating the point in the recruit/hire process at which the potential employee's personal appearance is known. Once this point is reached, the employer (or its recruiting agent) has knowledge of facts that could give rise, consciously or otherwise, to discriminatory decision making (e.g. race, sex, age).

To my knowledge, there is no proof that gut-based first impressions and interviews are more likely to result in good hiring decisions than discriminatory ones.

Sometimes, ignorance is not only bliss, but also a good legal defense.(One can't discriminate on the basis of a fact of which one is unaware.)

Of course, at some point there will be an interview, and substituting a video interview for an in-person one may be a very cost-effective method, allowing more people to be interviewed at less expense (assuming interviewee travel costs are paid).

BryanB said...

George raises some good points, and I didn't address any of the legal aspects of this product.

I think it all comes down to the risk you're comfortable with. If you feel the people making hiring decisions are trained to detect and avoid bias, and there are checks and balances (e.g., hiring decisions must be justified), you may decide it's worth it.

On the other hand, we know bias is really hard to avoid (and prevent), so you may be playing with fire, particularly in some organizations (e.g., police, fire).

On the plus side (and someone pointed this out on George's blog), the standardization inherent in the system could make up for the increased risk of disparate treatment based on appearance.

Mark said...

Thank you very much for the great posting Brian!

We understand where George is coming from. I agree with him. We don't recommend to clients to use HireVue before doing a resume screen first. We feel that we want to be the 1st interview. The connector between candidate and hiring manager. Essentially, we recommend a process that goes something like this -

1) receive resumes/applications for the position

2) Rather than bringing in or phone screening 3-5 candidates for the 1st screen, evaluate 8-10 using HireVue then proceed to view, review and compare candidate's responses to your questions

3) After viewing more candidates than a manager could previously, bring in 2-3 for face to face interviews.

What happens time and time again is that we get feedback from companies telling us how they would have not hired the person they hired were it not for HireVue. Frankly, we believe we can help a company hire better.

Standardized interviews, comparable evaluation and also a paper trail (HR can login to audit interviews directed to their hiring managers) we feel we can offer a pretty good process for companies. Granted there are risks (it was a risk when electronic resumes/applications came out too) but the reward pays off much more.

Here is something about that from a client

Thanks again for the great posting!! If you have any advice about how to make HireVue better please drop me a line mnewman at hirevue . com.