If you had told me clients would commit to senior hires without face to face meetings at the turn of the year, I would have politely dismissed the notion. Yet, that is precisely what we have seen happen in many of the sectors we work for. As people have been forced to adapt to the ‘new normal’, the advantages of video conference interviews have become apparent. In March and early April, many clients were assuming interview processes would continue in the short term via video conference, but final decisions would be delayed until face to face discussions could resume. With hindsight one hundred days later, we have seen many clients and candidates make their final decisions without these traditional face to face discussions.
The reasons are varied, but in our view, are the result of two main factors. Firstly, the better than expected validity of video calls as a replacement for in person meetings. Secondly, a commercial desire by clients and candidates alike to keep moving and make decisions for the longer term, regardless of Covid’s short term implications for their businesses.
So what do we now think of Video calls as the primary interview medium?
-People are more at ease and open up willingly on Video calls. We put this down to being in a home environment, where both the interviewer and interviewee are perhaps less ‘corporate’ in tone due to the setting and circumstance.
-As a consequence, answers to questions feel more genuine, detailed and informative than typically experienced in a more neutral office environment.
-Those entering into interview processes during lock down are often very serious about committing to a new challenge and are able to interview with real focus and energy now commutes are out of the window and their time is more efficiently spent.
-Senior management are proving to be better interviewers at home! Questions and communication with candidates has again felt less corporate and more personal. Again, being electronically invited into someone’s home setting is more welcoming and enlightening than a typical interview process.
And what about the resignation process itself?
-Helping manage people through the stressful process of resigning has been easier than expected during lock down. There are no face to face meetings to have to endure and people feel a lot more in control of their decision making process and communication strategy.
-Counter offers are harder when employees are not able to come into the office to talk to management and they are consequently better able to dictate the communication schedule with much greater control. Put simply, if you want to move jobs and are committed to a new opportunity, then people are finding the process less stressful.
What are the downsides of video led interviews and processes?
The negatives are mostly to do with broadband or other IT glitches. If you have a poor line, or background noise/delays which stop the flow of the meeting, then our advice is to not battle through. We had one client who felt a particular candidate was not the right fit for them. Having checked with the candidate, it became obvious that VC line had been poor. Fast forward to the same interview being repeated a week later, and all sides had a more favourable impression of each other. That candidate was ultimately hired.
On a lighter note, as we all wait patiently for the hairdressers to open up again on the 4th July, some candidates have recently been refusing to VC, worried they look unprofessional or too dishevelled. One downside of video calls is you get to see what you look like live during the discussion!
In conclusion: Face to face meetings will of course return, but the use of video conferencing as a highly effective part of the process is unquestionably here to stay. Long, polluting and perhaps unnecessary transport for first round meetings are in our view likely to become less common and I believe VC’s may well become an important element of any interview process – at the very least to check how people come across on-line, as more day to day work becomes remote.
Nick Gebbie heads up the Equities division at McLean Partnership. For more information or a confidential discussion on how we can help, please contact Nick on 020 35976407 or NicholasGebbie@mcleanadvisory.co.uk