Two-Way, or the Highway: The Rise and Fall of Solo Video CVs

by Nathan Fuller

The only thing more impressive than the vast technological advancements of the past century, is considering those to come in the next. Our lives are increasingly improved, influenced and enhanced by ingenious tools that we can’t live without, but didn’t realise we ever needed. The ways we shop, date, travel, manage our finances and even interact with each other have evolved or been entirely reinvented. It’s exhilarating to witness the age of IOT (internet of things) having such as vast impact on our day-to-day lives.

It’s inevitable then, that technology will also impact the way we work and the way we hire. In the recruiting and hiring industry, it’s easy to overlook (or even take for granted) some of the advancements seen over the past couple of decades. LinkedIn, online job advertising, job boards, talent management systems and some really inventive career portals have made hiring quicker, easier and more effective. It’s been a very long time since I had to make sneaky notes from the visitors’ book in the Morgan Stanley reception to find out who was working there. Now I can find out who, where and what they do quicker than it takes to grab my repeat-app-ordered and labelled morning coffee.

However, for every viral success there are 1000s of failures.

The Infamous Sony Betamax
The infamous Sony Betamax

Laserdisc, CDi, QR codes, Google Glass, Apple Airpower, 3D TVs and pretty much every 3D movie (save maybe Avatar, god bless you James Cameron), remind us that just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Never has this been more true than the rise of the automated, solo video application in the hiring process.

The idea
It sounds good on paper.

Frankly, CVs are outdated. There are very few examples in modern business where we would commit so much diary time based on a subjective piece of paper. It is the person that gets the job, not the zealous adjectives your recruiter has chosen to describe the candidate, nor the keywords that the candidate may have weaved into their career profile. Sometimes a fantastic CV is the absolutely wrong candidate and a relatively underwhelming CV could be the best hire you’ve ever made.

This is where video steps in, and it’s great. What if every candidate recorded a quick introduction to their career, demonstrated their aptitude and proved their specialist knowledge by answering your interview questions? You’d would only ever commit diary time to the right people not the right CVs. You’d get your time back; hire top performers you might never have met and give every candidate the chance to prove their worth.

The problem
All of the above is absolutely true. We’ve been doing it for nearly 4 years. However, there’s a catch.

The easiest way to do this, the software engineer’s approach, is to automate. The Betamax of Video CVs is an automated email and portal, instructing the candidate to record a monologue on their device, answering set questions that measure their suitability. Sometimes they are instructed by text on the screen, sometimes it’s a pre-recorded video, in some truly troubling instances it’s a creepy animated bot that grins and winks as you prepare.

We trialled all of the above in 2016, because we recognised the huge value that video could bring to the hiring journey. We used multiple solutions to build automated solo/monologue video environments.

It was a total disaster and here’s why:

1. People feel uncomfortable recording video monologues.
I think it’s possible that in a generation or two this might change, with the rise of Snapchat, TikTok and all sorts of other things that I’m trying to understand purely because I have daughters. But for right now, the prospect of sitting down in your kitchen and recording a monologue video on which your entire application will be judged is impersonal and unsettling. Also, and importantly, there is absolutely no link between a candidate’s ability to have a conversation with themselves and their ability to be a top performing Risk Manager, Regulatory SME or Change Manager.

The result? People will do it. Because some people really really need a job. They’d swim through tabasco to get an interview with you. But the best people? The ones your competitors are racing you to hire? Not likely. In truth you’ve probably created a hiring filter that sieves everyone but the really desperate.

2. It’s just not (completely) relevant
The issues with CVs is that they just don’t tell us what the person really knows and how they will perform at interview. For those who do complete your solo video recording, you can accurately test their product knowledge, but you can’t gauge any sense of their interpersonals, engagement or interview skills. They may look clunky an awkward because you’ve asked them to do a clunky and awkward thing. So you’d better meet them to be sure.

Result? You made them feel clunky and awkward for no reason and you’ve still spent additional time potentially meeting the wrong candidate. It’s a lose/lose.

3. Candidate journey matters
If you make your candidates feel uncomfortable and alone in the very first stage of your hiring process. What does that say about you as an organisation? Yes, we need to find a way to help hiring managers invest their interview time wisely, but automating people isn’t the answer.

The answer?
We came to the conclusion several years ago, that the way to simulate an interview is to simulate an interview. Kite was the first and remains the only hiring business to deliver a recorded video interview for every candidate we send. We meet them for you in our online interview platform, we chat to them about the things that matter to you – from wacky aptitude questions to deep technical tests – then you watch the videos back and choose who to meet.

It’s much more expensive for us to deliver and far more operationally cumbersome, but candidates are comfortable and are interacting with another human being. It’s a cake-and-eat-it scenario for our clients. It doesn’t just work, it’s game changing, and yet most of the process is undeniably manual. The technology is there to help deliver the solution, not to define it.

I spend a large part of my career meeting hiring stakeholders to talk about solutions just like this. To date, there are precisely two categories of people who have bought an automated video screening solution: those who’ve just bought it, and those who are about to cancel it.

To find out more about Kite and how we can help you make better hires, contact Nathan on 02038541544 or 

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