In-Person Interview vs. Video Interview: Which is Best?

The internet has provided interesting alternatives to traditional interviewing — but do they really compete? One of the more effective methods that gained popularity during the pandemic is the video interview. By getting on a conference call or using a custom engagement portal, companies were able to find top talent without having to risk exposing either party. 

Even though many organizations are choosing to return to in-person work, others are choosing to stay remote—or adopt hybrid processes, which may include continuing with a video interview process. In this piece, we’ll be going over the pros and cons of each interview style in order to parse out which method is best.

In-Person Interview Pros and Cons

Pro: Increased Engagement

Sitting through a Zoom meeting and gathering around a table for a discussion may produce similar results — but the average level of engagement is wildly different. The physical separation combined with varying internet speeds can turn a remote meeting into a slog. Conversation doesn’t flow as naturally. The same issues can crop up in remote interviews.

In in-person interviews, both the interviewer and candidate are focused entirely on one another. There are no distractions, and the time that the two have dedicated to the meeting makes them more invested.

Con: Serious Time/Resource Sink

In that same vein, the time that it takes to set up an interview can be a daunting process for recruiters — especially those in mid to large-sized organizations. Getting permission for an interview, finding a time that works for both the candidate and interviewer and securing a location for the meeting are just some of the necessary steps. 

Even then, at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee that the candidate will show up. In cases where you’re ghosted, the loss of time and money can be frustrating.

Pro: Connection Between Participants

There may be more small talk before, after, or between questions during traditional interviews which, in many cases, can be a positive. Getting to know your candidate’s personality through idle chatter and non-verbal cues can bring a kind of understanding that standardized questions can’t. Soft skills like leadership, communication, critical thinking, and other important traits come to light more naturally.

Con: Formality May Create Bias

For important interviews, the expectation is usually formal dress and formal speech. For many, the way that their clothes sit on their bodies, how they compose themselves in a formal setting, and other aspects of formality can influence how the interviewer judges them. The separation of a video interview combined with less formal expectations could actually provide quality candidates more reliably.

Video Interview Pros and Cons

Pro: Resource and Time Efficient

As we’ve mentioned — in-person interviews take a lot of coordination. Not so much is needed with video interviews. A simple Zoom meeting can be set up via email, or a video chat can be arranged via a company’s own portal. No location reservation is necessary, and if the candidate doesn’t show up, there’s very little loss on the company’s end. Both the recruiter and org can move on to the next candidate smoothly.

Con: Might Make Candidate Uncomfortable

Unfortunately, when the candidate does make a timely entrance, there can be complications. If the interview is taking place on a custom portal or non-standard video chat software, the candidate might not be familiar with the interface. For older/less tech-savvy candidates, this might be the case even with apps like Zoom or Skype.

Once the interview really gets underway, the flow of conversation often becomes unnatural. Candidates with phone anxiety will likely perform worse than they would in person. Even those who enjoy talking on the phone may find themselves hampered by the unnatural flow.

Pro: Can Be Run by AI Software

While only common practice at large companies, interviews run entirely by AI is beginning to take the stage. Video responses are recorded by candidates, and questions are generated by Artificial Intelligence software based on each individual candidate. The AI can sift through the interviews afterward as well, aiding the recruiting team in finding top talent with minimal expenditure or debate.

Con: Reliant on Internet

As many of us are well aware, internet speed can be erratic at the best of times. When an interview is reliant on both parties’ connections, things can get out of hand with no easy fix that’s guaranteed to work. Having to reschedule a meeting because of a bad connection can remove much of the time that the virtual interview saved your org, and push back the entire schedule in extreme cases.

Which Comes Out on Top?

When you get down to it, there are benefits and drawbacks to both in-person and video interviews, and deciding which is best for your organization will depend on a variety of factors. Each style has its merits and risks, and many times, using these methods in conjunction can create a well-balanced interview process.

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