Video resume: Seeing is believing

Technology puts job candidates on a recruiter’s screen

First impressions are everything to a skilled recruiter. To be good at what they do, professional recruiters must, more than anything else, excel at quickly assessing and evaluating complete strangers.

Typically this process starts with the review of resumes but this, in too many cases, only complicates matters. What recruiter hasn’t been surprised, disappointed, humoured and even down right shocked at some of the misrepresentations put into a paper resume.

One study by John E. Reid and Associates, a Chicago-based interview training organization, concluded that as many as 75 per cent of all resumes contain false information.

Applicants do this because they are desperate for an interview, but it slows down the hiring process for recruiters. One possible solution that has emerged very recently is the use of video resumes.

According to a UCLA study, people evaluate one another using the three Vs: visual (appearance), vocal (voice) and verbal (what is said). About 93 per cent of a person’s communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal communication.

If recruiters want to get a quick and accurate first impression of a job applicant a lot can be gained from seeing the person respond, unrehearsed, to a series of basic selection questions.

Grooming, voice inflection, hand gestures, scratching, rubbing all reveal a great deal about a candidate. Simple things like body position and moving away from or toward the interviewer after a question is posed help the recruiter learn a lot about a candidate that can’t be revealed from a paper resume.

There are of course different versions of the video resume model. In some cases job-hunters are producing their own video tape or CD and actually delivering it to the employer. In other cases, streaming video attachments are being sent by e-mail. And finally, third-party hosts of job candidate videos are establishing themselves in the recruiting marketplace.

A typical version of the video resume process looks something like this:

•A candidate gets a brief explanation of the process before sitting through an unrehearsed 20- to 25-minute, one-take interview with standard questions. The questions are heard as asked on the video.

•The video is edited down to four or five minutes and installed on a Web site which any employer or recruiter with a cable Internet connection can then log on and view. Serious blunders are edited out since there are still a lot of “Oh can I start over?” requests when the candidate remembers he’s on video. These edits should only be in the less-structured introduction part of the interview, as opposed to during the actual question-and-answer portion. In any case, the candidate should have the entire interview on CD. Employers can ask for this unedited version in case they’re concerned too much polishing of the candidate was done in the editing room.

•Also attached is the old-fashioned print resume with all particulars and contact information.

•The employer can then contact the candidate directly and deal with him from there. In some cases there is no fee or obligation on the part of the employer since the candidate has paid the cost.

The questions posed are generic and fairly basic: Why did you leave your previous employer? Describe your personality. What motivates you? What supervisory experience do you have and describe it. How would you develop and maintain a strong working relationship with a strong supervisor? Describe your educational strengths and weaknesses.

Some recruiters may have some reservations about the practice. “Interviews can be rehearsed, edited. Candidates can be poked and prodded until the person comes off looking next to perfect,” they often comment. But can a person really pull off a false front on video as effectively as they can on a piece of paper? Proponents of video resumes say no. In fact, it is more difficult to mislead on video.

Video resumes, on the Web, CD or videotape, are a novel means of selecting people but not, as yet, widely popular. This concept is unlikely to ever replace print resumes altogether but it is the wave of the future. Some may like this, some may not, but either way, this cutting edge technology is here.

The practice has been picking up a lot of steam in the United States during the last 18 months and as the technology improves it is likely to catch on even more.

Right now video resumes are relatively expensive to host on a Web site since the streaming video files take up so much space making the practice relatively unattractive to a lot of the major job boards. But in the last year alone, major improvements in the technology have allowed videos to be condensed into smaller and smaller files. Smaller files mean less room on the host Web site and faster access for users. Though most job boards may not be posting video resumes now, it seems a sure bet they will one day soon.

Chris Forbes is president of, a London
Ont.-based video resume hosting Web site. He can be contacted at (519) 652-9214 or at [email protected].

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