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Video Interviews Done Right: Lessons From Walmart

“There’s a connection between culture and recruiting,” Mike Grennier, Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting for Walmart Stores, Inc., told an audience of hiring resources professionals at the annual  HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas last month. Grennier was leading a session on video interviewing (also known as virtual interviewing) a practice Walmart began just two years ago in hopes to create a more efficient recruiting process that benefits both company and candidate.

So far, the effort has been an enormous success: Not only have video interviews enhanced Walmart’s ability to recruit more candidates across many geographic regions at a fraction of the normal spend, but it also helped them create a better candidate experience and, in effect, strengthen their employment brand.

“Candidates love that we take the time to do this because it shows that we care about efficiency, and it saves them time,” Grennier says. Not only that, but the effort also makes Walmart stand out from its competitors. “It tells the world we’re being more green.”

Walmart employs two types of video interviewing, depending on the position:

One-way recorded interviews

These interviews act almost like a ‘video resume of sorts: Enlisting the help of an external company’s online interview platform, Walmart sends standardized questions to a group of candidates. The candidates then record their answers and send them back to the hiring managers, who then review and rate the videos based on pre-determined criteria. Walmart then brings in the best interviewees for in-person interviews.  Walmart uses this technique for event-based hiring, volume hiring, campus hiring, and situations involving similar resumes. That is, when they’re interviewing for positions – such as pharmacists – wherein many of the resumes are similar in layout and style; In these cases, video interviews enable them to see if they have a good ‘counterside’ manner, something that wouldn’t come across on a regular resume.

Live, two-way interviewing

When hiring for professional level positions, or doing executive, campus or global recruiting events, Walmart conducts live, two-way interviewing, with the help of another online interview platform service. First, Walmart sends branded webcams to prospective employees. After a tech check to make sure all the equipment is working, a live interview on video can commence. Again, the process enables Walmart to evaluate the candidates virtually bringing them in for in-person interviews. If you’re thinking that the process sounds similar to using Skype, that’s because it is; however,  Walmart finds the benefit to using a third-party company is the additional technical assistance the company receives.  It’s also easier for candidates, too. While many of them may have webcams, they do not necessarily know how to use them or they might be hesitant to download additional software to enable Skype or a similar program.

And as for the results of these efforts, Grennier says the estimated the total savings from these virtual interviews will top $5 million by the end of fiscal year 2012. In addition to the significant cost savings, the practice has also helped lessen the company’s carbon footprint: Since Walmart began virtual interviewing, the company went from using up 623 kg of carbon dioxide to only 17 kg. (In layman’s terms, that’s like taking 315 cars off the road. Mother Earth would be proud, no?)

If others are wondering about the drawbacks to virtual interviewing, Walmart seems to have experienced very few. While Grennier asserts that there are costs up front, they end up being minimal compared to the money saved overall. And while the hassle of utilizing new technologies might scare some companies off, that’s where the third party technology companies come in to assist. Not to mention that these platforms are becoming ever more sophisticated, easier to use and more commonplace. “Before long, people are going to be able to do this on their iPhones,” Grennier says.

For Walmart at least, virtual interviewing isn’t even necessarily so much about being faster and more efficient as a company, so much as it is about the ability to offer candidates a better recruitment experience. “At some point, this will become less of a tech solution and more of a candidate experience solution.”

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.

As a Staffing Solutions provider, I think virtual recruiting is a great idea. Many times I am not able to have an in-person interview with people because they are not located near me. It is also very expensive to comp their travel costs.

Minto Roy
Minto Roy

It is interesting that Walmart with the geographic footprint of the company wouldn't setup recruitment centers in the stores that leverage technology. That would solve any of the logistical issues sending a candidate a web cam.

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