LG Goes Virtual for Better Hiring

Problem: For LG Electronics USA Inc., coordinating travel and schedules for interviews, sometimes internationally, was time-consuming and expensive, and not all candidates were getting full consideration.

Solution: The company integrated a live virtual interviewing platform into its hiring process, reducing costs and saving time while enabling HR leaders to draw from a wider candidate pool.

On a monthly basis, LG Electronics USA Inc. has as many as 100 job openings at a time. Candidates come from across the U.S. and, more recently, from around the world. Adding to the global complexity, the company is headquartered in Seoul, and executives from Korea are often involved in hiring.

The time it took to coordinate schedules for all involved took a toll on hiring productivity. Waiting for everyone’s calendars to align could take weeks, prolonging time-to-hire in the process. The company needed a more efficient way to improve and enhance its hiring processes — something that didn’t require having to have a person physically there.

In early 2011, Rachel Stoya, LG’s human resources senior manager, learned that the company’s U.S. mobile phone division in San Diego had successfully used a virtual interviewing platform for 48 live interviews. She decided to roll out virtual interviewing across the entire U.S. enterprise, nearly doubling the number of virtual interviews by the end of that year.

Each hiring manager and candidate reviews the virtual interview process before interviews are conducted, receiving tips and suggestions such as where to look during an interview and what colors show up best on screen.

“Lots of people haven’t used this technology before, and the ‘tech check’ makes them feel comfortable,” Stoya said. “Even though people were already doing meetings online, they weren’t sure if managers would use it.”

Companies considering virtual interviewing should “not to be afraid and just embrace it,” she said. “Once they go through the process, they are able to see for themselves just how easy it is.”

How Virtual Interviewing Works
LG’s virtual platform permits two or more geographically separated individuals to connect virtually using an Internet-enabled device with a webcam. This may be a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

By using the scheduling platform, recruiters are able to organize and coordinate live virtual interviews with candidates and multiple company representatives. Each attendee receives an email invite with instructions. Attendees then can conduct the tech check with a customer support person to ensure everything is working.

Candidates and company representatives then meet up in the virtual meeting room using one of the client application platforms. These platforms communicate with one of three geographically distributed data centers, using a secure video encoding protocol. The servers relay the video in real time back to the users.

Candidate experience is a significant aspect of an employer’s brand. Virtual interviews are particularly applicable for a mobile workforce, and this option shows candidates that employers understand work demands.

“People who travel a lot for work, like sales reps, really appreciate this option,” Stoya said. Offering virtual interviews is another way employers can differentiate themselves and support their candidates at the same time.

“Virtual interviewing has really reduced our time-to-fill,” Stoya said. “We can set up interviews quicker because we don’t have to wait to coordinate schedules. Video interviews are great for candidates who travel for work as well; they can conduct interviews on the road. And now multiple managers in different locations can all be in on the interview.” All the candidates can be interviewed more quickly and, as a result, overall hiring decisions are made sooner.

Stoya said recruiters and hiring managers can take notes throughout the interview, which can be shared and compared later with decision-makers. This allows staff to shift time away from clerical tasks to more meaningful activities such as sourcing and candidate relationship management.

The company also has saved money. Stoya said the company averages a cost of $1,000 per candidate in travel costs for live interviews. In 2012 it conducted 176 virtual interviews and saved approximately $150,000. The savings continued this year with 76 interviews, saving more than $66,000 in the first quarter alone. Virtual interviewing can be used for all types of positions, and while it doesn’t eliminate all travel, it reduces the need for many candidates to travel. “We wouldn’t use the platform for a final interview necessarily, but we use it to narrow the field early on in the process,” she said. “Then we only have to fly in one or two candidates for the final interview.”

LG also has experienced a benefit that’s harder to measure: it now has a larger talent pool to draw from. “In the past, we wouldn’t have considered as many distant candidates due to the expense of bringing them in,” Stoya said. “Now, we can interview every candidate we’re interested in, no matter where they are. We can pick from the best candidates period, not just the best candidates in the area.”

Another benefit of conducting video interviews has been a reduction in the company’s overall environmental impact. Every month, LG Electronics receives a report on the carbon emissions saved by interviewing candidates virtually rather than flying them in. “Environmental sustainability is a core business principle at LG,” Stoya said. “And although environmental concerns were not the biggest factor in our choice of virtual interview technology, once our management saw the carbon savings, they were impressed.”

The average in-person interview introduces approximately 650 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This comes from things such as air travel and ground transportation. With each virtual interview, LG’s carbon footprint is approximately 20 kilograms of carbon dioxide, making a significant difference in what enters the atmosphere.

“We’re building a new headquarters in New Jersey, and putting solar panels on the roof and implementing other sustainable solutions, so green interviewing is right in line with what our company believes in and practices,” Stoya said.

LG has won several awards for product design and innovation, and its adoption of the virtual interview platform is consistent with this dual emphasis because it enables a fully branded interview environment. Candidates see LG Electronics’ logo and color scheme in the platform, which creates a seamless extension of the brand experience. The virtual interview provider offers the option to brand the webcams sent to candidates who don’t already have one.

Virtual interviewing also aligns with LG Electronics’ DNA. “Our business is technology. We bring cutting-edge products to market, so using a newer technology to hire folks fits with who we are and makes us look good,” Stoya said.

Look and feel are as important as function to LG Electronics and its customers, so Stoya said free video chat products were not an option, as they lack branding capabilities and do not meet high quality standards.

Although LG Electronics USA began implementing virtual interviewing to reduce the hassle and cost associated with the interview process, the company found that it saved time and money and reduced overall time-to-hire. Video interviews also brought other benefits, including a larger talent pool to draw from, an enhanced and integrated employer brand, an improved candidate experience and a reduced carbon footprint.

Greg Rokos is president of virtual interviewing company GreenJobInterview. He can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.