Why a Face to Face Interview is so Important


We’re strange, I admit. We do all of our recruiting through face-to-face interviews. Most companies hire contract recruiters or headhunters to search, filter, and screen potential candidates. Contract recruiters are, after all, the fastest way to add bodies to a rapidly growing company. But we take a different, more personal approach to recruiting. Partly because we think its the right thing to do but mostly because we think its better for our business. We make sure candidates receive personal emails directly from one of our team members. We then have our initial conversations either over video conference call or coffee before inviting candidate for onsite visits. Here’s why we decided to conduct every recruiting conversation via face-to-face interviews.

Creating “third space” conversations

Our goal with recruiting is to quickly find out whether or not the candidate and Highfive are mutual fits for each other. That means its a two-way evaluation process – kind of like dating. We prefer to have our initial conversations in a “third space” environment. Urban sociologist Ray Olden coined the term “third space” to articulate society’s need for informal meeting space. What makes third spaces (such as coffee shops, bars, parks, etc.) so powerful is that they promote social equity by establishing neutral common ground. In a recruiting process this means the candidate is less likely to be in “sell-mode” and is more likely to engage in an authentic conversation.

Our preferred third space is virtual – a video call. Video creates a neutral online space for the candidate and our team member to connect face-to-face. We find video calls or coffee shop conversations help us quickly determine whether or not there may a mutual fit with the candidate and our team.

Building trust

People don’t trust companies, they trust people. We find that holding our initial conversations via video helps us establish trust with candidate. It also lets us evaluate whether her or she will be able to establish trust with our team members, customers, and partners. Face-to-face interactions let us read the candidate’s non-verbal cues which increases rapport and helps us gather more information in a shorter period of time.

Going global


The 10 flags that represent Highfive’s team

We look for the best talent in the world – literally. Our team now represents 10 different countries of origin. While coffee conversations with international candidates are logistically impractical, video calls are exceptionally easy. We find these video calls particularly useful for international candidates because they allow the candidates to meet several different team members before making the trip to Palo Alto. We believe these face-to-face video conversations help the candidate realize they are joining a team of people, not a faceless corporation.

It is often tempting to want to solve the recruiting pipeline problem through outsourcing or phone screens. Like most things in life though, the quick fix rarely produces the best results. So put down the phone and interview your recruiting candidates in a third space.