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Video or phone interviews for remote applicants have been utilised by employers for decades. However, COVID-19 lockdowns essentially enforced these mediums across the board. We all became accustomed to conducting business remotely. Many of us have adjusted and prefer the convenience of not having to continually commute to our place of work or a prospective workplace.

However, when it comes to interviews, face-to-face is always best (if you have the option). Here are some reasons why…

The importance of face to face

Expressions like ‘Zoom fatigue’ hit our vernacular in 2020. Research by Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) investigated Zoom fatigue from a psychological perspective. You can read more about this interesting research here. Bailenson identified four key reasons that lead to Zoom fatigue and exhaustion. 

1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense

2. Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing

3. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility

4. The cognitive load is much higher in video chats

Points two and four are particularly relevant to keep in mind for job interviews. 

Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing. When we’re being interviewed, we want to make a good impression and often feel nervous as a result. It’s unnatural to be watching yourself being interviewed and it can make you feel more self-conscious, nervous and critical of yourself. “Bailenson cited studies showing that when you see a reflection of yourself, you are more critical of yourself.”

The first solution for this is obviously to switch the default off so you don’t see yourself as well as the person/s interviewing you, giving you a better clarity of focus. As Bailenson said, “in the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly – so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback – you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy. No one would ever consider that,” he added.

The second solution is for you to opt for an in-person interview wherever possible. Which brings us to the next argument for face-to-face interviews. Point four of Bailenson’s study: The cognitive load is much higher in video chats

Bailenson addresses how with typical face-to-face interaction “nonverbal communication is quite natural and each of us makes and interprets gestures and nonverbal cues subconsciously. But in video chats, we have to work harder to send and receive signals.” It’s much easier to build a rapport with someone when meeting in-person. Humans will typically get an endorphin rush when hanging out with loved ones. This can also happen when we’re having pleasant social interactions with strangers. However, it doesn’t happen when we’re social distancing and interacting over video.

As recruiters, we see the benefits of face-to-face interviews every day. We will typically have more positive feedback from both clients and candidates when the interview was face-to-face. It’s beneficial for both parties if the interview is in-person. So, if you’re ever presented with the option, choose a face-to-face meeting.