Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Google Plus Hangouts and Job Interviews

We're watching you!

A recent G+  article asked why not use Google+ hangouts for customer service. During the discussion, the topic of G+ hangouts used for job interviews came up, and that got me thinking.

Since the topic of job interviews weighs heavily on my mind (I'm unemployed), I thought, why not use Google Plus hangouts to conduct interviews? Here's one scenario:

A company needs to hire one person quickly. They could spend time and effort scheduling interviews, or they could outsource it to a company that uses Google Plus hangouts to quickly find applicants and interview them. The company that's hiring could even join in the hangout, or schedule another hangout if the applicant suits their needs.

The company saves time by letting another company do the initial interview, and then when the company is ready, they can save more time by joining a hangout that's already in progress, or they can simply review the video that the third-party company shot and go from there.

The potential employees save time and other resources because they can do this from home, using their own computer and camera. If the applicant does not have a camera or a computer, then the third party company can provide that for them.

Another feature of this is the ability to save the recording for further review. Say the applicant doesn't quite meet the qualifications of the job, but has impressed you in other ways, you can take that recording and use it for the next job. You've heard of saving the application for the next open position? Well this takes it a bit further, and removes another step from the hiring process.

In the end it saves time and reduces the duplication of effort. Everyone wins!

Well, maybe.

The major downside I can see in this is the lack of privacy. An interview done at the company who is hiring is secure and generally not recorded. Any interveiw done through a Google Plus hangout could well be intercepted, could be recorded and then could be used for both good and bad. Let's say you are an applicant and you had a bad day. A few weeks pass and you're browsing the web and you see yourself in a video of that interview, and it has gone viral, because it shows you throwing up, or worse. How would you feel?

An other downside is the loss of control. Sure, you can provide the third party company with a list of questions, but that doesn't mean they'll get asked, unless you join the hangout. And what about body language? I recently recorded myself in an interview situation, just to see what it would be like, and I was able to adjust the camera so that only my face showed. You can get a lot of body language from the face, but other cues and miscues won't be obvious.

With a live interview you can tell how someone dresses, how they smell, how they present themselves when greeting you. How firm was their handshake? How sincere is their smile? Much of that is lost in a Google Plus hangout.

So, while I think the idea has potential, for the first interview, for instance, I don't believe it will be successful in the end. But who knows. Someday all interviews will be conducted from your home or even from your employer's home.

 I'd love to be able to do all work from home, but someone has to flip those burgers, because they ain't comin' through the internet!

By Michael Fox