We recently sat down, well, metaphorically sat down, thanks to the pandemic, with Spark Hire customers Eric and Rachel of Red Clover. Red Clover is an HR consulting firm specializing in organizational change management and strategic human resources consulting services. Both avid users of the Spark Hire platform, these two brought a unique perspective to our discussion as Rachel had been hired entirely virtually by Eric with Spark Hire. Naturally, we had a lively discussion about their perspectives of the Spark Hire experience
At first, we discussed what each person experienced preparing for their one-way and live video interviews.
What types of questions have you asked candidates in the Spark Hire interview?
Eric: Years ago, when I completed my first professional interview for my first “big boy” job, my mentor reminded me that the phone interview (this was long before the days of even having a camera on your laptop) is the way you confirm the information on your resume and earn the in-person interview.
That advice has stuck with me, so when I develop questions for the Spark Hire one-way video interview, I focus on providing the candidate the opportunity to speak about their experiences that are directly relevant to the position. I want to strike a balance where we get to learn more about the candidate, but also they have the opportunity to showcase their resume and speak of specific situations that are relevant to key responsibilities and core competencies of the position.
How did you prepare for your Spark Hire interview?
Rachel: The Spark Hire interview was the second step in the interview process for Red Clover. While I had already done some research on the company for the initial interview, I did even more for this interview. I searched what services the company offered and even was able to find some interview questions that were recommended by one of the internal consultants at the firm. Most importantly, I practiced my responses and made sure I looked professional.
As the employer, how do you prepare for the Spark Hire interview?
Eric: I find value in rapport building, so we always host a brief introductory call with applicants. It’s ten minutes where we review the position and the organization, answer any questions the applicant has, confirm certain details about the role (What’s your salary expectation? Can you commute to the location, etc…) and then walking them through the Spark Hire one way video interview process. As an HR consulting firm, we may be sourcing talent for clients, so I also use this time to clarify my role, so they don’t get confused by the two different company names.
I make sure I’m prepared to speak about the company (whether our firm or the client company) and am adequately prepared to answer any questions and clearly outline next steps and the process timeline beyond the one-way interview.
I also prepare by reviewing our intro and outro videos regularly. Sometimes, the information may be outdated, so I try to make sure our video library is current and best represents our firm or the client organization.
Next, we discussed how they felt leading up to the one-way interview, either before reviewing it, in Eric’s case, or before pressing “Record” for Rachel.
What can candidates expect when interviewing with Spark Hire?
Rachel: There will be an initial explanation from the Spark Hire team on how to use the various functions. For the actual interview, you will be shown a question in text (or video) on the screen, and be provided with time to think about your response. When you are ready, hit record. Candidates will have as little as 30-seconds to respond or as much as three minutes.
Companies will set up the interview so you have anywhere between one and an unlimited amount of takes, so if you are not satisfied you may have the opportunity to redo your response. Candidates can stop and come back to the interview. But you should be mindful of how long you have to complete the interview once you accept it.
What do you look for in a candidate’s responses on Spark Hire?
Eric: We focus on behavioral interviewing, a style of interviewing that invites applicants to provide specific examples from their work experience to demonstrate how they would perform in the role. Ultimately, we believe the best predictor of future behavior is previous performance. So, I look for a candidate’s ability to tell a story about themselves as it relates to the pertinent job responsibilities. I like specific examples. When a candidate speaks in generalities or hypotheticals, I’m not learning anything new about them and if they have direct experience in what the job requires.
On the other hand, I recognize one-way video interviewing is new for a lot of people. So, during my introductory call, I remind participants that it’s okay if they stumble over words. I’m not expecting them to be perfect, I want them to be comfortable and genuine. But, having evaluated a fair number of video interviews, I recognize that some people will come across as nervous (or even robotic!) – and in those situations, it’s even more important to focus on the content of their answers.
Navigating the Interview
Did you find Spark Hire easy to use/navigate?
Rachel: Spark Hire was extremely user friendly. It is able to tell the interviewee if the recording sound is good, and if you have a good WiFi connection. Additionally, Spark Hire allowed me to review my recording and record my response multiple times. If I messed up or was not happy with the response I gave, I was able to re-record my response until I was satisfied with it.
Eric: Absolutely. I find it easy to navigate, and our Spark Hire account managers are always available to help and host a quarterly call to introduce new features, answer any questions, and help us plan for any future recruiting needs. Because of the training and support I’ve received, I’m always ready to train new colleagues at the firm on how to use Spark Hire and its many tools. IT’s also super easy to introduce to clients – and their ability to easily navigate through is a strong selling point.
Video Interviewing’s Impact
After that, we wanted to take a critical eye to the employer side of the coin by asking Eric about his efforts implementing Spark Hire at Red Clover.
How has Spark Hire helped your organization with recruiting talent?
Eric: Spark Hire interviews have been a huge time saver for our firm. Allowing candidates to complete interviews on their own time benefits them, but it also benefits us. It frees up our time to focus on other aspects of the work we do. If we continued doing phone screens, that’s potentially half a day or more, chatting with candidates about whom we want to learn more. With Spark Hire, we can review the same amount of interviews in a fraction of the time.
We use Spark Hire internally and are comfortable with it (and believe in it) to market to our prospects. It’s part of our service offering to clients if they need us to work with them in developing a recruitment process, especially if they want to move quickly and have an ambitious workforce growth plan. We are able to fill their positions quicker because we can leverage Spark Hire to be more efficient with our time and theirs. Also, the ability to share the one way interviews with key stakeholders is an additional benefit. Sometimes, phone screen notes can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Spark Hire allows us to put the candidates in front of decision makers, and they are evaluating the same content we are, which lends itself to more effective conversations when evaluating candidates.
Dual Perspective Advice
Of course, we couldn’t end such a valuable interview without asking Eric and Rachel their advice for companies and candidates on using video interviews.
What advice would you offer to candidates using Spark Hire?
Rachel: Look professional. You should treat the video interview as if you were going to an in-person interview. Have the full outfit on, whether it is a suit or dress, because it helps you get into the right mindset.
Your response does not need to be perfect. If it was a live or phone interview you would most likely trip up on your words at some point. Just because you have the opportunity to record your response as many times as you want, does not mean your response needs to be 100% perfect.
Look into the camera when you are speaking, do not look at yourself on the screen.
Your background should be professional; if possible a blank wall that is a neutral color. Make sure the room you are in is well lit.
Take a deep breath and relax! One-way interviewing can be awkward, but it is important to be yourself to ensure you and the company feel there’s a good match.so the organization gets a good sense of your personality.
What advice would you offer to other organizations looking to use Spark Hire for virtual recruitment?
Eric: We partnered with Spark Hire long before the pandemic, which forced companies into using virtual recruitment and interviewing tools. Spark Hire was ahead of the curve, and in turn, so was Red Clover.
Before the pandemic, I’d see HR professionals decrying video interviews as “impersonal.” Now, they are a necessity. I had some of these same concerns, but with their comprehensive Staffing Machine materials, Spark Hire provides guidance on how to properly use their tools while still building rapport and developing personable relationships with candidates in the process. Spark Hire doesn’t replace people in your interview process, it’s a tool that people can use to make the interview process better.
We still speak one on one with candidates. Spark Hire doesn’t use AI to judge peoples’ facial characteristics or evaluate facial tics to gauge honesty. It’s mainly become one of the tools in our recruitment toolbox that allows us to stand out among our competitors and develop more time-efficient recruitment processes.
About Eric and Rachel
Eric is a Senior Consultant at Red Clover. In his consulting role, he helps drive businesses forward by providing innovative HR solutions to the firm’s clients. With 15 years of people management and leadership experience in higher education, Eric thrives in working with Red Clover’s clients to provide them hands-on, boots on the ground people operations support. In addition to client service, Eric is also responsible for all of Red Clover’s marketing initiatives and works to increase brand awareness through firm partnerships (like this one with Spark Hire), social media content curation and blog writing.
Rachel Cohen is an HR Associate at Red Clover, a strategic HR consulting and change management firm in New Jersey. Rachel is the newest member of the Red Clover team, leveraging her undergraduate coursework in human resources and business administration to develop innovative HR solutions to move the firm’s small business clients forward. Rachel is Red Clover’s go-to for employee handbook development, policy compliance and recruiting support.