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Video Conferencing- A worrying trend

almost 4 years ago by Robert Anderton

Video Conferencing- A worrying trend

Blank Screen

As I sit here looking at the Zoom share price that yesterday hit $478 from their IPO price of $36,  wishing like many that I knew enough about stocks and shares to have brought into them at the beginning, the realisation hit home that video conferencing (VC) has finally become mainstream. For many years it was on the fringes and used as a last resort when people couldn’t meet in person but as with other Digital transformation, Covid has pushed VC into the spot light.

I have recently started to see and hear of a trend that if not careful will totally damage companies’ reputations going forward - that trend is the ‘Black Screen’. 

Since lockdown occurred, I have had clients (against my advice) where they expect the candidates to be on a video call whilst they switch their camera off and expect the candidate to interact to a black screen…I was told “it’s the candidate being interviewed not the interviewee”.

This isn’t just confined to interviewing, I have heard of sales people pitching to prospective clients, where the client has switched of their screen so the sales person couldn’t gauge reactions!

Pre Covid, would it have been acceptable to ask someone to have come into your office and then make them sit behind a screen whilst they pitched for your business, or interview for your role? Like some poor version of blind date Minus Cilla and our Graham?!

The issue companies have to be aware of is yes we are in a buyer’s market at the moment so there are lots of people looking for work. In some sectors new business opportunities are also thin on the ground, so people are more willing to accept uncomfortable situations that they might not normally have accepted in the past – but does this make it right?

We saw it in the 2008 crash where during this time it started to become the norm for people to attend four, five, or even six interviews as employees wanted to spread the risk of bringing on a new recruit by getting as many people in the business as possible to meet them first so that if the candidate didn’t work out there were many people to take the blame. The issue with falling into these traps ,is that it becomes the new norm for some companies; when the market switched again to being more candidate lead, employers wondered why they kept loosing the best candidates half-way through an elongated interview process, and struggled to hire the best. (On a side note, Covid seems to have corrected this with lots of companies who seem to be moving quicker now with candidates when they find the person they want.)

So You may get away with the black screen for now, yes it will leave a bad taste in peoples mouths, most will bite their tongues (supporting their family is more important at the moment) But use your Black screen with caution and please don’t let it become the norm,  the market will not stay like this forever. We still have a massive skills shortage in this country, and with Brexit and Visa changes coming into effect it will not get better any time soon - this influx of available people on the market will not be around for long.

So, remember that you will be back to fighting for talent with your competition soon, and the companies that realise their future employees are ‘humans’ like them - not machines at the other end of a screen, and treat them as they wish to be treated themselves, will be the ones that will win the hunt for the best talent.


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