With the increasing availability of high-speed internet and videoconferencing technologies, many companies are considering their use for pre-employment interviews and employee selection. While these new technologies likely can help companies save time and money over more traditional face-to-face interviews, there are a number of serious concerns about their use. Most of these concerns are related to the possibility that a video interview medium might influence the impressions made by employers or candidates. The scientific evidence so far is troubling, to say the least.
One experiment randomly assigned job candidates to be interviewed either in-person or via videoconferencing. They found a significant bias in favor of the videoconferencing candidates (to make things more complicated, this bias was much stronger when the interviewer was female and the interviews were unstructured). Remember that it was completely random whether each job candidate was interviewed in-person or over videoconferencing—the two groups should be otherwise relatively equal. Another study had participants complete both a face-to-face interview, and an interview either over videoconference or phone. They found a bias in favor of the impressions made during the phone interviews. The more physically attractive candidates were rated more favorably when they could be seen (in-person or over videoconferencing) than their less physically attractive counterparts. Obviously, physical attractiveness did not similarly influence the impressions they made during their phone interviews.
Employers care about the impressions they make during the application process, not only because they want good candidates to accept job offers, but the candidate experience can influence the reputation of their organization. Furthermore, some research suggests that a better perceived candidate experience is directly linked to better performance on the job. The evidence surrounding this issue when it comes to video interviews is fairly straightforward. For example, this study of over 300 organizations found that candidates perceived video interviews as significantly less fair and expressed lower intentions to accept job offers. Interviewers report having more difficulty controlling or understanding discussions during video interviews, and candidates perceive the interviewers as less effective.
In short, the evidence suggests that the use of video interviewing for employee selection is a risky proposition. It may be that the short-term convenience and cost savings are overshadowed by the many downsides.