Devin FosterApril 30, 2021
Topics: Recruiter Experience

Did Video Kill the Cover Letter?

Video has permanently changed how talent acquisition teams interact with candidates. From day-in-the-life employee testimonials, to video assessments as part of the interview process, to video offer letters, the medium has cemented its place as more than just a stop-gap measure to replace in-person interaction during the pandemic.

Now, candidates and organizations increasingly are opting to use video cover letters, too! Check out the full episode below, where Phenom’s Head of Video Product, Sebasitan Niewöhner, shares how to best integrate video into the application process. You can also read on for more highlights!

When Video Cover Letters Make Sense

Before we dive into the benefits of candidate videos, let’s address the obvious question: Did video really kill the cover letter? (Or will it?)

Not likely, Niewöhner said. For positions in many fields, such as medicine, engineering, and law, traditional cover letters are still necessary to convey all the technical details of a candidate’s background.

But video cover letters are especially useful for job roles where communication style, personality, and culture/team fit are crucial. Think marketing and communications, HR, creative teams, sales and other customer-facing positions.

Related Reading: Hiring with Video: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions

The Value of Video in the Application Process

Video assessments give job seekers a chance to showcase their personality and provide a great first impression in the interview process. Not to mention, it's a big advantage in helping recruiters identify best-fit talent early.

But what about video cover letters? Here’s a breakdown of the major benefits:

Video Cover Letters Can Supercharge the Screening Process

Video adds another dimension to the screening process, giving recruiters a tool to compare candidate applications and make more accurate screening decisions. A candidate who doesn’t seem like the perfect fit on paper might actually have just the personality and passion the company needs. Video helps translate that.

The inverse is true, too: video helps recruiters understand early in the process when a candidate’s interaction style just won’t gel with a specific position or team.

Video Helps Candidates Differentiate Themselves

This opportunity for extra personalization is a big benefit to candidates, too. “You’re not one of 100 documents that are just on the table or in the email inbox. You’re the person you really are, and you can really shine with motivation, with qualifications, and your personal fit to the company,” Niewöhner said.

In fact, Niewöhner encourages candidates to include video in their application even if the company doesn’t require it.

“It’s a good way to stand out,” he said, sharing an example of a candidate who sent out seven video applications and was invited to six interviews in one week. “When you create something that jumps out and creates a ‘wow moment’ for the recruiter, you benefit yourself in the hiring process.”

Video Can Reduce Bias in the Screening Process

Clients often express concerns about video introducing bias into the screening process. But when done carefully, video can help support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in recruiting, according to Niewöhner.

Employers can level the playing field by giving candidates the same set of questions to answer. And video allows diverse candidates an equal chance to showcase their passion and experience early on in the application process.

Organizations can also reduce bias by having multiple recruiters and hiring managers review the video submission, giving a more diverse set of voices to the candidate selection process.

Related Reading: Fast-Forward Candidate Screening with Video Assessments

Tips for Integrating Video into Job Applications

Many organizations are including video as a major part of their application process. Niewöhner shared best practices for rolling this out in a way that optimizes the experience for everyone:

1. Help candidates get comfortable with the process.

Niewöhner recommends that organizations provide clear instructions, as well as practice sessions for candidates so they can get comfortable with the nuances of self-recording, such as holding a camera and presenting themselves on video.

Candidates should also have the option to re-record an answer in case their initial response doesn’t turn out as they’d hoped.

2. Have candidates respond to three types of questions.

Ask one personal question, one question regarding motivation, and one question regarding qualifications, Niewöhner advised. Specific questions will vary according to the job role, of course, but these general categories can help recruiters better determine which candidates to advance in the hiring process.

“With this set of questions you get a very holistic understanding of who you’re talking to,” he said. “Especially with the motivation question, it’s easy to figure out, ‘Does this person really want to work at our company?’”

3. Make video assessments feel like a personal experience.

Video application questions should mimic the back-and-forth cadence of an in-person conversation. Recruiters should present the question rather than the question appearing in text, Niewöhner recommends. “This communication on eye-level is really important to give candidates the feeling that, ‘Hey, this is a great experience.’”

Related reading: Lights, Camera, Action: How Video is Changing Hiring

Future Use Cases for Video in the Talent Lifecycle

Aside from using video in the application and interview process, the next few years will see companies integrating video throughout the entire talent lifecycle, Niewöhner said.

Spotlighting videos on career sites to make an immediate first impression with candidates will continue to trend. “What we saw previously with Talentcube is whenever a company makes the first step and introduces themselves in a video, it really increases the conversion rate of video applications and video interviews,” he shared. “That’s a very big aspect for candidates – to have authentic videos and authentic impressions on the career page.”

Companies will also use video to create next-level job descriptions, giving a behind-the-scenes look at job roles and organization culture.

Even after the application process, communication between recruiters and candidates will increasingly take place with video, Niewöhner predicted. Video especially is valuable to use when declining job candidates, providing a personal touch to build brand positivity. And in the onboarding stage, video can be used to make team introductions, and for other internal communications regarding new hires.

WATCH: Show, Don't Tell: How Innovative Video Best Conveys Your Company's Stories

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