Live vs. Pre-Recorded Video Interviews: What's Best for You?

Live vs. Pre-Recorded Video Interviews: What's Best for You?

Saya Tuleutayeva

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Tom York

25 May 2021

Pre-recorded and live video interviews often get mistaken for one another. Many people use the umbrella term “video interviews” to talk about both, and it is very easy to get confused. 

In this blog post I’ll explain what these two types are, when to use them, and share a couple of tips to get the best out of them.

What are live video interviews?

Simply put, live video interviews are live video calls executed in a job interview format.

Such interviews can be conducted through basic tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or with the help of a video interviewing platform. Some platforms (like RecRight) also let recruiters record real-time interviews, so that they are watched and analyzed later on.

Live video interviews are an effective alternative to face-to-face interviews when in-person meetings are difficult to arrange. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is revamping our hiring processes and is turning what used to be an exception into a rule. Find the best practices in our dedicated blog post: Remote Recruitment: How COVID-19 Revamps the Hiring Process.

Compared to in-person interviews, live interviews don’t require recruiters and candidates to travel to the meeting location. This alone can save time and effort for both parties. However, recruiters and candidates still need to connect at the same time for the interview to happen. In this case, the back and forth communication behind interview scheduling is incompressible.

5 tips for hiring managers for conducting successful live video interviews

We’ve all had to become accustomed to using video conferencing tools in 2020. Having said that, the astronomical amount of video calls we’ve had in 2020 also taught us a good lesson: most people aren’t prepared and/or properly equipped to have smooth video calls. 

We’ve listed 5 tips to help you conduct high-quality video interviews.

1 - Do a technical trial run before the actual interview

Technical issues can ruin the candidate experience. They will affect the flow of the conversation and depict your company as everything but tech-savvy. In 2021, this can be a problem, especially when hiring younger talent. 

Choppy voice, delays and, echo with the audio, pixelated camera, etc. We have seen it all.

Ensure that your tools are functioning correctly to prevent any technical problems from happening during the interview.

  • Check that your camera is working well: Note that, you could have an excellent webcam, and still get low-quality results from it. Sitting in front of the camera is essential. But ensuring that the room you shoot in is well lit is at least as important.
  • Test your microphone: Consider using a USB podcast microphone for the best results—and don’t forget to mute your microphone when you’re not talking to avoid any background noise disturbance (especially when at the office, or at home with kids running around).
  • Test your internet connection: An internet connection with a bandwidth speed of at least 1 megabits per second is ideal. One way to solve all connectivity issues is to create a 4G/5G hotspot using your smartphone.

2 - Use a scheduling tool to spare yourself and your candidate all the back and forth

Scheduling can easily become the most time-consuming part of an interview process. Using tools like Calendly can help you save a lot of time and create a positive candidate and recruiter experience. 

Some recruitment platforms, such as RecRight, offer a scheduling feature. It allows recruiters to manage everything from one place, thus saving them a significant amount of time.

3 - Prepare a set of open-ended interview questions and have a structure

Always come prepared.

Without a proper plan, you risk asking irrelevant questions. You could also be asking questions that won’t help revealing important information to help you make a solid hiring decision.

Not having a plan might also create inconsistencies between interviews. This alone will make it more difficult to assess your good-fit candidates fairly.

4 - Ask for permission before recording an interview

And explain to them what you are going to use the recording for. Consent is key.

5 - Have a plan B in case something goes wrong

Here again, 2020 taught us that if something can go wrong during a video conference, it will eventually happen. 

For this reason, you could ask your candidate for a phone number so that you can reach them in case one of you faces connectivity issues during the interview. If the video cuts out, give them a phone call and continue the conversation. 

Email course - 5 days to master video interviews

What are pre-recorded video interviews?

Pre-recorded video interviews refer to a type of interview where recruiters create and record video questions, to which job applicants reply by recording their own video answers. 

Unlike in live interviews, in this format, recruiters and candidates don’t have to be present at the same time for the interview to happen. They can record and send their videos whenever and wherever they feel like it. 

This gives a lot of flexibility for both of the parties involved as there’s no scheduling involved in the early stages of the process.

When are pre-recorded video interviews most used?

Pre-recorded video interviews are widely used as a screening method to filter important numbers of candidates during the early stages

Recruiters themselves find that they’re easy to conduct. They provide more information about the candidates than CVs and cover letters, and are more efficient than phone interviews.

Such interviews give a clear picture of the people behind the resume and help recruiters navigate through the flood of applications.

Pre-recorded video interviews ensure consistency

In pre-recorded video interviews, recruiters ask all the candidates the same set of questions in the same order.

All candidates get an equal opportunity to answer the questions and showcase themselves to the recruiter. This provides consistency in the interview process and allows recruiters to compare and evaluate the answers fairly. 

The video answers can also be shared with colleagues and customers, which greatly contributes to reducing personal biases.

Tips for conducting pre-recorded video interviews

When used properly, pre-recorded video interviews can help you find and hire the best talent. Here are 5 tips to succeed.

For more in-depth tips, join our free video interview email course.

1 - Prepare your list of questions carefully

With pre-recorded video interviews, you can ask your candidates anything you want, so you want to use this opportunity wisely. Create your interview questions based on the main recruitment criteria — this will help you identify the most suitable candidates right away.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for feedback before recording your questions.

2 - Ask three to five questions

No need to swamp candidates with a ton of questions. Ask what you need to know about them to move forward.

Pre-recorded video interviews make the recruiting process more efficient for both recruiters and candidates. For this reason, we believe that less is more.

3 - Give your candidates clear guidelines for video answers

You can’t expect your candidates to figure everything out on their own.

Tell them exactly what is expected from them. Just as you would in a job offer, making your expectations clear to increase the likeliness to receive high-quality video answers and to provide a positive candidate experience. 

When giving your instructions, avoid ambiguity as much as you can. Let’s take an example. 

Don’t say: “Please keep your video answers short”.  Instead, consider saying “Keep your answer under a minute and a half”.

Using a tool like RecRight, you can set a time limit to let candidates know what you expect from them.

4 - Use pre-recorded video interviews to promote your company culture

If a picture is worth a thousand words, does it mean that a video is worth a million? (yes, it is).

You could record a "welcome video" where you introduce your team to the candidates. This will help them see what it’s really like to be a part of your organization. 

Another trick is to record a "thank you video”. Use it to inform candidates about the next steps in your recruitment process or direct them to relevant employer branding materials.

5 - Mind your body language

A video interview shouldn’t be odd. It’s a privileged moment to connect with candidates.

When recording your questions, ensure that you’re relaxed and that your body sends the right message to the candidates. 

What’s more, make eye contact! It is not necessarily natural to look at a camera objective, so train beforehand to shoot in the best possible conditions.

To wrap it up

Live and pre-recorded interviews serve different purposes and can be both used in the same recruitment process. 

  • The initial screening can be carried out via pre-recorded video interviews.
  • Then, the first round of the interviews and the final interview round can be arranged via live video interviews. 

Of course, you can use live video interviews to screen candidates, but pre-recorded video interviews are more efficient for this. 

To go a step further, you can read about the three different ways to do pre-recorded video interviews, and choose which one to use depending on your recruitment needs. 

All types of video interviews provide ways for you to offer an innovative hiring process and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Using video interviews also goes hand in hand with employer branding and candidate experience. 

Do you want to learn more about video interviews and video recruitment in general? Reach out, or check our ultimate (ungated) guide covering nearly everything you need to know about the subject.

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