Why do most Americans prefer in-person job interviews?

Virtual interviews–including prerecorded video interviews and virtual-reality tryouts–are fast becoming a routine part of the hiring process for many jobs. However, given a choice, most Americans would prefer an in-person interview.

That’s according to a new survey from staffing company Yoh, which finds that 62% of the 2,000 U.S. adults polled would prefer a traditional interview over a virtual one.


The biggest reason, cited by nearly 60% of respondents, is that in-person interviews are the only way to “truly judge a new job opportunity.” Reason No. 2, selected by 37% of respondents, is that virtual interviews would limit the connection with the interviewer. Seventeen percent of respondents chose “too many opportunities for technical difficulties” as a reason why in-person interviews are preferable to virtual ones.

“In this technological era, companies are consistently finding faster, better ways to streamline the recruitment process and open the door to a wider range of hiring opportunities,” says Yoh’s president, Emmet McGrath. “But Americans’ skepticism of virtual interviews highlights the need for human interaction throughout the recruitment and hiring process.”

Companies that rely on virtual interviews do, in fact, tend to include face-to-face interviews in their hiring process–they just tend to do so at a later stage of it, says Loren Larsen, chief technology officer at online-interviewing and assessment provider HireVue.

“The virtual interview is a way for companies to decide, ‘Which five people do I select for an in-person interview?'” he says.

Virtual interviews–whether they’re done via phone or laptop–let talent-acquisition teams and hiring managers screen out candidates who’d be a poor fit for the job in question minus the trouble or expense of an on-site interview, says Larsen. In many cases, they’ve made the hiring process more humane, he adds.

“An in-person interview is more personal, but most companies don’t have time for that,” says Larsen. The virtual interview is a good alternative to resume screening, he says. “It’s giving people a shot who might otherwise face the dreaded ‘black hole.’ ”

Some organizations do need to do a better job of making their virtual interviews more personal, says Larsen.

“There are bad in-person interviews, and there are bad virtual interviews,” he says. “Rather than just sending someone a link and telling them ‘Here, take this,’ explain to them why you’re asking them to do this–how it will help you get to know them better, for example.”

Tools such as chatbots and avatars can also help the virtual-interview experience feel less impersonal, says Larsen.

As for technical difficulties, those concerns tend to be exceedingly rare among today’s job candidates, he says.

“When I started here back in 2011, 40% of virtual interviews required some kind of contact between [interviewees and support staff],” says Larsen. “Today, it’s less than 1%, and most of the time it’s the candidates wanting to know when they’re going to hear back from the company.”

There’s little age or gender gap among candidates with respect to virtual interviews, he says.

“We’ve surveyed millions of candidates on their experience, and people over the age of 50 have the same positive experience as those age 22,” says Larsen.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.