Video conferencing a game changer in Procurement/Supply Chain screening in 2013

January 10, 2013

One of the hottest trends in Strategic Sourcing – Procurement -Supply Chain Recruiting moving into 2013 is the rise of online video-conferencing. If your company hasn’t already seriously checked this out, you need to do so now. Why? In today’s chronically tight employment market for Supply Chain Management (at all levels – from Planners & Analysts to Strategic Sourcing Directors or Logistics & Warehousing Executives and such), increasing both the speed and tactility (warmth and personal approach) of your recruiting process means the best candidates are more likely to sit up and take notice of how your company marches to a different beat. You will find they will have more interest in learning more and possibly in joining your organisation – and not your competitor’s. And that’s a big plus.

Time was (not in the too distant past) when all (first) job interviews were conducted “in-person, that is – face-to-face.” This made sense when most hiring was local, and involved perhaps 1 or 2 rounds of interviews – but of course this has changed. We all know how difficult it is to pin down a slate of executives at home office to meet with a top candidate whose hot on the market. Everyone’s travelling everywhere, in constant meetings or meetings tight deadlines. The concept of video conferencing is a very attractive alternative to dragging the in person or impersonal phone screen process out. It can be conducted from anywhere – its keep the interview process moving and has the benefit of keep that great candidate engaged till an offer can be made.

Skype also deals with the issue of the expensive and time-inefficiencies of having to ask, for example, that Logistics Director candidate to travel, whether cross-town or from across the country, for a meeting which may only last an hour or so. Additionally, arranging multiple interviews for out-of-town candidates can become a scheduling nightmare, video conferencing takes care of this with ease. And since many of today’s work-groups and project teams often aren’t located centrally, but may be scattered over large geographic areas, video conferencing is proving to be highly successful.  Getting that outstanding Category Manager candidate in front of, say, your Procurement Executive Team very quickly becomes less unworkable with the immediacy of Skype.

In 2012 a big move to deal with some of these problems was to reserve initial or early-stage interviews to be conducted by telephone. Usually done as a screen by HR this was primarily for “short-listing”. Only then would the employer then schedule another round or rounds of “in-person” interviews. Here’s the draw back – telephone interviews can come across as unwelcoming and not “warm” – you can’t see one other and both the interviewer and the interviewee are left with no sense of excitement of the role or suitability of culture. There are definite shortcomings of this strategy that meant employers had to find a better approach.

Although video-conferencing has been around for many years, but it was expensive and fraught with technical challenges. Company facilities (such as boardrooms and meeting rooms), or third-party “studios” would be connected via closed circuit television. The cost and logistical problems associated with this approach meant that its use was primarily limited to high-priority internal business meetings, and it was only (if ever)  used for very senior or highly specialised recruiting situations. As this technology became cheaper and technically more reliable, its use spread, albeit slowly.

As with so many other things, the Internet has proved a game-changer when it comes to video-conferencing. Dramatic improvements in bandwidth and reliability have transformed the Web into an essential business tool. What was unthinkable only a few years ago – live business meetings conducted from multiple locations using the Web – has become reality. A variety of tools and services, of which Skype is perhaps the best known, have appeared, offering low-cost (and in some cases free) live video connection between two or more persons, using nothing more than a laptop computer or handheld device.

So why has video-conferencing become so vital a tool for recruiting? For starters, it is so much more engaging than the telephone. Both employers and candidates can actually interact, and not just hear, each other. Remember, that Merchandising Manager you’re interviewing is also checking you out at the same time. Perhaps even more importantly, the use of video can dramatically shorten the length of the hiring cycle. With employers scrambling to find the best Supply Chain candidates in an increasingly tight market, the ability to quickly connect with those candidates becomes crucial.

At Argentus we love video conferencing as a tool for our clients for first round interviews and strongly encourage our Supply Chain – Strategic Sourcing – Procurement customers in Business, Retail and manufacturing to take full and immediate advantage of it.







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