Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer.
My guest today is Cliff Jurkiewicz, the Vice President of Global Strategy for Phenom. Video assessments is our topic. We’ll get into what they are, their impact on the user experience and more on this edition of People Tech. Hey Cliff, welcome. I’ve been hearing more recruiters and talent acquisition folks talking about video assessments a lot lately, that they’re using those assessments more than they’re using phone screening or at least things are heading in that direction. Can you tell me about that?
Sure. I mean, we’ve at Phenom have seen that shift as well, I think for a couple of different reasons. Number one, I think the candidate audience, whether it’s an external candidate or even an internal employee, are used to video as a medium. It’s become more ubiquitous in the everyday life in what we do. Certainly through the pandemic video is something that was made readily available by organizations as a way for employees to connect and communicate and certainly in recruiting, it was a way for recruiters to then connect with candidates in a way that makes a lot more sense. In terms of the assessment piece, again, what we’re finding is that video allows the individual candidate to be more of a whole representative of themselves, who they are, the environment that they’re in. You can see things like facial expressions and body language. We’re not assessing those things. But it’s almost like you’re in that interview and I think what we have found is that candidates are more comfortable simply talking about their answers versus sitting on a phone in a very impersonal assessment and providing answers.
They’re not able to really represent their full selves. They’re being restricted to whatever categorically those responses are. So this gives them a chance to let their personality come out a little bit and the culture of who they are in those video assessments and usually they’re relatively short, at least what we recommend or what we’re using and because of the expediency of it, asking three to five questions, being able to get a response within about five minutes to all of that submitted and done versus what we see with a lot of assessments, which are anywhere between 30 minutes and 45 minutes of their time sitting on a device and again, feeling like they’re not really connected to the recruiting audience or to the employer.
Now, for those who aren’t completely sure about what we’re talking about, what’s the difference between a video assessment and a video interview?
Sure. Video assessment is really being able to ask the similar types of assessment questions that you might see in a more written or online assessment. It could be behavioral. It could be technical. It could even be cultural. There’s actually no good tools for cultural assessment. So each of these different categories provides an opportunity to have a more focused conversation or response from the candidate to very specific things that the organization might be looking for. An interview is going to be a lot more structured in the sense of a very traditional, tell me what you’d like to be doing in five years and tell me a little bit more about your experience and then I think the dynamic nature of an interview is that it can go off in a number of directions based on a person’s responses. The video assessment is really meant to be categorical in that sense. Give them the framework. Give them just a few questions. Ask them one at a time. See the responses and be able to make a judgment on those responses and then be able to move on in the process.
So, it’s less dynamic in terms of there’s no interaction from the recruiter or hiring manager for the video assessment. It’s allowing that person to really get on camera and be themselves, respond to the few questions that you’ve got, submit that and then that’s evaluated for its content, for the character of the person and the content that they’re providing in the sense that to be able to make a judgment whether they want to move through the next step.
Can you take me through how these work mean? For the candidate, what’s the session like?
Sure. So I can speak to our platform, not how others do it in that sense. But generally speaking, we will set up one of two things, either an automation. The candidate might come to a career site, being matched to meaningful work. So they’ve got one or a few job matches. Select the one that really resonates with them. Potentially answer a couple of quick screening questions to screen them in to say this is really what this is about. Answer those positively. So there’s an automation in the background that says, “This person could be a really good fit. Why don’t we send them an invitation for a video assessment?” So this is a system making a decision based on a workflow that’s been set up by the recruiter. Now, the recruiter may also choose to do the human intervention at that point and say, “I want to review some of those responses before we invite them to the video assessment.” So it can be automated or it can be human triggered, which is fine. But a lot of these are automated because it’s meant to inspire somebody to engage and nurture them through the process.
So they’ll be sent usually a link or if they’re, say, working in our chat bot for example, they may get an instant response in the chat bot. “Hey, you look like a really great fit for this role. Would you like to take a video assessment?” It’s worth noting that some people that may be not ready to be on video, we offer an audio only version of that, so they could just submit with no video. We want to make sure that we are considering people that may not be comfortable, persons with disabilities that may need a screen reader or other things. So we consider each of those experiences in what we offer. But there’s always a way to capture their responses, whether it’s a text reader, if you’re a person with a disability and you need help with that, or it’s the video and somebody accepts that, great. But they’re all treated equally in terms of the weight of that information that’s submitted. So that is an automated response, in most cases can be manually triggered. They’ll get that link. They click the link.
If they’re on a desktop, mobile tablet, doesn’t matter what device, as long as it’s a modern device in the last five to seven years, they will be able to essentially see the questions. So they’ll click the yes, I’d love to take the assessment. We’ll talk about the no in a minute. Yes, I’d love to take the assessment. They get the link, click that link, open it up. They’ll see the three to five questions. Here’s what we’re going to ask you. When you’re ready, when you’re in your mind, you’ve thought through what your responses are, click this button and we’re going to record you. You have an opportunity to stop the recording and always start over. Those things are certainly possible. We want people to be their best selves and feel comfortable. So we record the response. They are usually time limited. So we want to make sure that people know that this is five minutes of your time or less. Some of our video assessments are as little as it’s one question and it’s a minute that you get to do it and so whatever the time limit is, they’ll see a timer.
It’s running. They want to stop it, start over, they can do that, delete the recording. But when they feel comfortable, they’ve got something solid, they’re clicking that record, then clicking the submission. They’ll get an automated response. Thank you. Usually that automated response will include, here’s what your next step is because we want to remove the black hole that you feel in recruiting. I submitted application or submit something to a prospective employer and I have no idea where it stands. So we’re going to say, your next step is that this recruiter is going to review this information. It’s going to get back to you within 24 to 48 hours. But if you have questions in the meantime, here’s some more information about the team, about the role, a day in the life. So this is another opportunity for us to nurture and engage them while they wait for a next step or a response. So should they choose that they don’t want to do it, then we give them the opportunity, would you like to submit something in a written form?
So somebody that’s just not comfortable with technology, and again, it will hold the same weight. They’ll get a link, submit this to the recruiter. It’s all done in an automated fashion and stored in the CRM and then fed to the recruiter and the hiring manager for review and evaluation. So there’s a bunch of alternates in there. There’s some sort of escape hatches for those that may want a slightly different experience, but always give them the opportunity to use a medium that they’re going to be comfortable with and that’s why usually these assessments, these video assessments are done in an omnichannel format. So video isn’t always the best. But we will default to another method should they not feel comfortable with that.
Okay. I’m curious, what’s your definition of assessment?
Yeah. So my individual definition of assessment is going to vary. Here’s what I would say. It’s really going to be role dependent. But if we’re talking about most roles, what we’re seeing in what I would want to see assess and what I see a lot of the clients that I work with, this is really an opportunity to think about cultural fit. So we’re assessing attitude and aptitude. We’re assessing, did you do homework on the role? Do you understand what it is that you’re going to be asked to do, what we’re asking of you? But the other piece of it is an assessing of the organization, right? You’ve also got to give the candidate the opportunity to say, “I’ve looked at you. Here’s what I know about you or here’s what I think about the role and can you validate for me in a next step if I’m on point with that?” So to me, I see assessments as a two-way street. It’s just starting with the conversation of the candidate because the employer is the one that holds the work. The candidate is the one that’s looking for meaningful work.
So we’re asking the first, “Man, how do you fit in here and what are you looking for?” I think attitude and aptitude are the two primary attributes of an assessment that I would be looking for. Of course, there are technical assessments and things like that that an assessment could revolve around. Tell me about the last project you worked on. We see this a lot with engineers. Tell me about the last project you worked on, the project methodology, the communication method and how you managed to be successful or if you weren’t, the project wasn’t, tell me what recommendations you might make in the future for that project manager. So there are things that you can ask. Again, you’re judging attitude and aptitude more than anything else I would think.
It’s an automated system and I’m wondering what its impact on the candidate experience is. I mean, does this put a distance between a new candidate in the employer or does it wrap in nicely somehow?
No, I think it does wrap in nicely because if you look at consumer experiences, which is what we’ve modeled our particular platform on and I think the industry is looking at that and saying let’s look at that because it’s so successful, there is an expectation that through at least the beginning part of that process, make it as quick and engaging as possible. Don’t redirect me to a bunch of different systems and don’t waste my time. Show me the value in what you’re doing and you can demonstrate value through speed and efficiency and candidates tend to like that. They want to know that they’ve taken that next step in the process very quickly. They’ve had an opportunity to submit something beyond an application and be able to demonstrate some of their personality, some of what makes them who they are and so they really welcome that and there’s no reason to put a barrier in front of that in terms of if you think about … We’ll use the online shopping experience. Nobody knows what distribution center your product is coming from. Nobody cares. Just let me know that it’s coming.
So again, this is expectation of expediency. There’s no reason to have the step in the process of the recruiter reviewing things unless it’s what we call a more of a knowledge or highly skilled role where they may want to customize the questions that get asked to somebody in a different way. But that’s rare. Most of it can be automated because there’s an expectation. I’ve submitted an app. I’ve answered your screening questions. You’re saying I’m qualified. Why not Just send me the assessment and I’ll just get it done and in the five minutes that I have. So if you can have an application process that is two to three minutes, have a screening process that’s a minute or less, have a video assessment that happens within five minutes and can be submitted based on their comfort level with submitting it that quickly. They might take a few more minutes, but that’s okay.
But you’re talking about a whole experience that in less than 15 minutes, I not only submitted some hard copy information, my CV, my resume, but I’ve also had that opportunity by video, by voice or by other means to demonstrate a little bit more of my whole self. People jump at the chance to do that. Why wait? You’ve got them captured. They want to do it. Give them the opportunity.
What do managers think of all of this and does it make the process more difficult for them or more complicated or more convenient?
I think more convenient is the goal. So what we hear from hiring managers is, “Please don’t make me log into another system and manage this process. Just put in front of me what’s important to me, which is a list of my candidates or applicants, leads, whatever it may be. Give me the information I need, the CV information.” The video assessment is a really great way to tie the personality to the person on paper, so personality to paper and gives them that chance to maybe prepare a little bit better if they want to move forward with that person because they’re not only reading about the person, but they’re listening and they’re seeing them potentially, but at least listening to them and can respond in a way that, again, is more personal. The value here is the hyper-personalization for both parties, for the candidate and the hiring manager. If you think back even 10 years ago when we didn’t have the digitization of all of this different information, hiring managers were assessing based on just the resume or just the submitted information, whatever that was emailed at the time.
Now they get an opportunity to potentially see the person and/or hear them or read about them again if that person chooses that and it just gives a different angle to things. It gives them information that they don’t need to wait for the interview to actually hear. So for them, it’s like, “Wow, I get to know a little bit more about this person. These questions are important to me. I can understand where they might fit into my organization.” Craft an interview process that is going to be more bespoke for that individual, hits on things that are really important to them. So it is just another layer of information for them if presented in the right way. We believe we present it in the right way, in a very quick, easy to understand, easy to respond to format and move on. Again, these video assessments are typically five minutes and so if you can get 15 minutes, if you’re assessing three candidates, 15 minutes of your time, every hiring manager has found value in that process because they can see the response or hear the response of the individual.
Yeah. Now, this is a technology product obviously. Sometimes technology products come with a certain amount of mischief That’s unintended or the user just doesn’t quite go about things the right way. What kind of mischief can an employer run into with these kinds of systems?
Well, I think that the mischief, the challenges in terms of this technology are it’s fairly new and so I think what we see is, while there’s a lot of willingness on the candidate side and even the hiring manager side to use the technologies, there may not be the underlying process in the organization to utilize it in the most efficient way to start. So you need to build some muscle memory with it. The mischief comes in, are you asking the right questions and so there could be a period of trial and error. We try to eliminate that just based on experience in working with clients to do that. But there could be some trial and error in there that they may not be getting out of it exactly what they want and they need some time to hone those questions, to zero in on the things that are really important to the organization because remember, we’re moving from, if this is even a word, a dis-personalized experience, an applicant tracking system, submit your information, goes into a black box.
here are 100 people, there are 1,000 people, there are 10,000 people that apply to this role. We’re basically going to pick the top 10 and roll through them until we find the next 10, the next 10, until we find the right person. Now, with all this information coming in, it definitely can take some time to understand that that process at the employer side of things needs to change a little bit and hiring managers typically haven’t been given the opportunity to participate at that level. Now we’re giving them an opportunity to really collaborate with the recruiter, giving them a tool to make that conversation, what they’re really looking for more meaningful and so crafting those questions, the mischief is maybe you’re not asking the right questions and you’re kind of getting some responses that may not resonate. That’s not on the candidate. That’s going to be on the organization. So it may take some time to do that.
On the candidate side as people, even though people are willing to look at this, the candidates are willing to use this technology, it’s going to be a little new for them and so the mischief comes in. We see simple things like somebody saying, “Can I take it back because I had a picture of my dog in the background? I don’t know if that was appropriate for the employer.” Other employers saying, “We’re a pet food company. Please show us a picture of your pet and tell us about your pet.” That’s literally an assessment question from one of our clients that’s a pet food company. They want to know how passionate you are about that. So the mischief can come in that with personality, with that persona might come some things that are unexpected.
But mischief isn’t always a bad thing and it can make the organization really rethink the way that they’re evaluating these candidates in a positive way because they’re seeing things that they’ve never seen before, not even in an interview process, because the interview process tends to be a little bit nerve-wracking for the candidate, maybe even for the hiring manager, because they’re under so much pressure, the candidate because they really want that job. This is a little bit more unassuming while getting some important information. So yeah, a little bit here and there on both sides. So I think for both sides, mischief can be defined by what the candidate is submitting. They can be a little bit more playful or show a little bit more personality and on the hiring manager or in the employer side, it’s really how to intake that information in meaningful ways because you may be seeing a side of the candidate that you might never see in the interview process.
How do you assess that and this is again, where we see thousands of these assessments on a weekly basis and we can work with clients to say, “This is what you can expect to see from people that are giving you a video assessment on asking these questions on this role and so here’s how to evaluate that. Here’s how to make it part of your process and make that assessment meaningful to your process and to better represent the candidate.” So it takes some work, for sure.
Okay. Well, Cliff, thanks very much for taking the time to talk today. It was great.
Thank you for having me.
My guest today has been Cliff Jurkiewicz, the Vice President of Global Strategy for Phenom and this has been People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of Recruiting Daily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com and to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.