In-person interviews are usually a time to get to know a candidate on a more personal level and video interviews can make that more difficult. With in-person interviews, not only are you asking questions and paying attention to their answers, you’re correlating that with body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues that might give you insight into the candidate. Unfortunately, those visual and non-verbal cues get more difficult to sense in a video Zoom interview.
One solution a lot of hiring managers think about is recording the interview to re-watch later, catching everything that might have been missed the first time around.
But should you record video interviews?
The short answer
The short answer to this question is no, with a caveat.
Just like you wouldn’t record in-person interviews, you should not record video interviews. That said, there’s room for recording if it’s standard policy.
The long answer
There are three key reasons why I advise against recording video interviews:
- Power dynamic
- Conversation killers
Privacy is a legally protected right in most countries. As soon as you record a video interview, you put that privacy at risk. This could lead to the candidate facing reprisal from their current employer if anyone happened upon the recording. And here’s the thing: you may not even need a leak for this to happen. One person can talk to another, who tells their spouse, who casually mentions it to a friend that they’ve seen the recording. This shouldn’t happen, but when there’s a recording it’s much more difficult to deny and that could lead to professional issues for the candidate and legal issues for you. Even in cases where you are interviewing candidates in a country with more lax employment or privacy laws, you could be held to the highest global standard if any issues arose. Beyond the candidate themself, there are also privacy issues around recording someone’s home and anyone else who might be there such as partners, roommates, or kids, which could land you in hot water.
Employers have significant power over a candidate in the job search process, and springing recording on them only makes this worse. While you might have the very good intention of being fully present in the interview and not needing to take notes (because you will listen to the conversation again later), recording the conversation still puts candidates in an uncomfortable position. If they are interviewing with you, there’s a clear indication they want the job, or perhaps even need it depending on their personal financial position. So if you log onto the interview and suddenly drop “Oh, by the way, can I record this?” they will be pressured to say yes — or risk looking uncooperative right at the start of an interview.
The goal of an interview is to help the candidate get to their most professionally relaxed, so their answers are authentic and you can use the information to get an accurate gauge of if they are right for the role. When someone is being recorded, they are more likely to be guarded. This means you won’t get the comfortable, relaxed person you might be hiring. You’ll be getting their most polished “stage” self, resulting in scripted answers that likely won’t give you the information you need to make a decision.
If you have a standard policy of recording all video interviews — and even recording in-person interviews — then I would argue this policy can continue. However, you need to make sure you have a few things in place:
- Universal: It must apply to all candidates for all positions, regardless of job title, seniority, or internal versus external candidate.
- Disclosed: All candidates need to be made aware that their interview will be recorded before the interview itself.
- Explained: When disclosing that the interview will be recorded, explain what you will (and won’t) do with the recording. Further, explain how their privacy will be respected in the process.
- Confirmed: After disclosing that you will record the interview, ask the candidate if they have questions and confirm they’re comfortable being recorded. This will give candidates the chance to speak up if they have concerns and give you air cover if a candidate says they weren’t aware of the recording.
If you choose to record interviews, some candidates might opt out of the process. However, if recording is critical to your workplace and it’s a stated policy, then that candidate likely would not have worked out for you anyway. The key is transparency and disclosure — candidates should never be blindsided.
How to retain information without recording
Worried you won’t remember everything if you don’t record the interview? Here are five practical tips you can implement for your next interview:
1 — Buddy up: Invite an HR generalist or other colleague to sit in and take notes. If going this route, make sure there is a rotation of who takes notes so it’s not always one person.
2 — Stay consistent: Ask (roughly) the same questions for every candidate applying for the same role. Further, have a baseline of questioning for all candidates regardless of role. The consistency will help with recall.
3 — Balance time and questions: Don’t squish tons of questions into a short interview. Plan for 3–5 minutes per question so you have enough time for in-depth answers without getting overwhelmed with information.
4 — Research the candidate ahead of time: If you’re not running an anonymous interview process (which can help mitigate bias), review candidate profiles ahead of time or check them out on social media so you have a base of information to check back to.
5 — Zero distraction notes: Turn off all notifications, silence your phone, close your Slack, and have your interview in full-screen. Take notes by hand or with a notes app on your computer, but don’t have anything else going on.
It’s about the candidate experience
Your job as a hiring manager, recruiter or leader at your company is to find the best person for the role, and the interview process is an integral part of that process. So while it may be tempting to record Zoom (or video) interviews so you can check back on those non-verbal cues that appear more vaguely on video, my advice is to leave it alone. You have a lot on your plate and a lot of opportunities to assess the candidate besides just the interview itself. If recording is a critical part of your process, the key is to be upfront and follow that process for every candidate, with no exceptions.