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Skype can ‘click off’ – we still prefer face-to-face job interviews

Face-to-face meetings are still by far the best method of conducting job interviews, a new study suggests

Modern technology means that recruiters don’t even need to leave their desks to carry out interviews; they can now conduct them quite easily on the telephone, or via online communication platforms such as Skype. However, research indicates that both employers and employees feel they make a better impression when meeting in person.

One of the study’s writers, Nikki Blacksmith, from the Department of Organisational Sciences and Communication in George Washington University, said that the study was a reminder that personal interactions are still important, despite the fact that we live in an increasingly technological world.

The study looked at a dozen research articles which had been published in the years from 2000-2007, in which a range of different interview methods were ranked according to their effectiveness. These included face-to-face meetings, telephone interviews and more modern methods, including various online platforms.

Overall, face-to-face interviews were judged to allow the most favourable impression, while those via video were looked upon most negatively, closely followed by interviews by telephone and those through a computer.

Although the organisers of the study had expected people to view video interviews more favourably as they became more used to them over time, they found the opposite to be true. The more recent the research, the more negative the ratings for ‘new technology’ were.

And this may prove a problem for employers, say the study authors, because although the person being interviewed does not usually get to choose the method, the hirer does. If recruiters do not use the same type of interview for all candidates, it could lead to claims of unfairness and may even raise the spectre of a lawsuit.

So should employers ensure that all interviews are carried out face-to-face from now on, despite the numerous technological advances?

Nikki Blacksmith believes that more research is necessary before employers make any drastic changes to their methods, particularly as the study was relatively small and the articles written some time ago. However, she did point out that, taking into account the speed at which technology evolves, it is evident employers and recruiters need to re-evaluate their understanding of interviews today.

One thing is clear; meeting people face-to-face is not going to go out of fashion any time soon.

The study, published in the Personnel Assessment and Decisions journal, was co-written by doctoral student Jon Willford and associate professor Tara Behrend, both from George Washington University.

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