Are virtual interviews easier than in-person interviews?

By Robert Half on 14 June 2022

The Australian workplace has seen a fundamental shift since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as have hiring methods. And while employees are now returning to the office, hybrid working remains in place. That means virtual interviews are still being employed—particularly in the early stages of the recruitment process.

So, you may be asking yourself: are virtual interviews easier? What are the benefits of one method over the other? Are video interviews here to stay?

Related: Assessing soft skills in a virtual interview? Here’s how.

When are virtual interviews easier?

Hiring managers and recruiters have reported many benefits to virtual interviews since the start of the pandemic which is likely why they will remain a key part of the recruitment process, especially considering the obvious health and safety benefits that come with virtual recruitment.

Ease of organisation, shorter screening times, and no limit on geographical location are also among the top reported benefits, and considering all that is needed is a computer with a decent internet connection and a quiet place in which to speak, it’s a lower pressure method of reaching potential talent. With less barriers in place, it’s likely that employers will be able to attract a wider pool of talent than with a traditional, in-person interview.

These perks can all lead to shorter time-to-hire, and at the end of the day, are both time-and cost-efficient methods to find the perfect fit, which makes it seem as though virtual interviews are an easier way to conduct recruitment.

And, at a time when many companies are choosing to hire and work entirely remotely, some companies may not have much need for an in-person interview.

Live versus pre-recorded interviews

Of course, if time constraints are of primary concern, there’s also the option to request short, pre-recorded video interviews that applicants can prepare and submit ahead of time. These are especially helpful for mass recruitment drives in industries where presentation and creative skills are essential—especially if you’re hiring for video and content creators!—but can be employed for any interview process.

The obvious advantage of pre-recorded video submissions is that they don’t need to be assessed at a particular time. And if using the same pre-written Q&As for each applicant, the differences between the responses will stand out.

Whether you prefer a live conversation versus a pre-recorded video that interviewees prepare and submit ahead of time, there’s no getting around the fact that they are certainly a convenient method of screening talent.

However, it’s also important to remember the skills required to create videos may be a barrier in and of themselves. And, in the home office, where many of these interviews are likely to take place, distractions are often hard to avoid: children, background noises, and housemates and partners going about their day will be inevitable interruptions. While it’s true, post-pandemic, many people have greater empathy for these interruptions and stresses at home, other biases have also had the chance to arise, like the so-called ‘background bias,’ where a person’s home environment is also unconsciously being assessed.

Related: How to hire remote workers… remotely

When are in-person interviews easier?

There is something to be said about meeting and assessing an applicant face-to-face.

Meeting a candidate in-person is the best way to assess their people skills, the way they present themselves, how they handle high-pressure situations, and whether or not you can build a rapport with them. It offers the best opportunity for genuine engagement with the applicant—particularly important if the role you are hiring for will involve client interaction or leadership roles. There is also the chance to watch their body language and assess their interpersonal skills.

Similarly, jobs that require a demonstration of skills, like giving a live presentation, are better done with the candidate in front of you.

On a practical level, avoiding the technology itself can be a benefit. Poor internet connections or bugging software--these things are often unpredictable, and can be frustrating to both parties, leading to a poor interview experience.

And with a dedicated interview space, these is less chance for distractions that may occur in a home office.

Related: Interview questions for employers

So, are virtual interviews easier? We would argue that it depends on the purpose of the interview, and the role you are interviewing for.

As we move into a post-pandemic workplace where hybrid working is the norm, many companies are choosing to also conduct hybrid interviews: screening virtually before assessing a narrow pool of candidates in-person for a second-round interview.

This allows for the best of both worlds, where time is saved and prioritised for only the most promising of candidates, and allows for more time to be dedicated to potential employees face-to-face.

It can also be a great opportunity to create a positive employee experience from their first interaction with the company—something many companies neglect, focusing only on the employee experience once they have become employed.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to have empathy for your applicants, no matter the method you choose to employ.

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