If you’ve read the book Blue Ocean Strategy, you know that the authors outlined ways to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. Apply that to recruiting, and video has been one of the tools highly discussed in setting a company apart with candidates. The challenge is that video may seem difficult to produce at scale.

I  get asked at least 5 times per week about this topic, so I thought I’d share best practices on how to make low-cost hiring videos that drive your Employer Brand.

Over the last 2 years, I’ve personally produced over 100 hiring videos. Some of these turned out great and got top candidates hired. Others turned out terrible in retrospect. The good news is that I learned quickly, and the videos got progressively better.

Every best practice shared in this article revolves around impacting candidates in an authentic way. If it doesn’t move the needle with candidates, we don’t tend to focus on it. There are many traps you can fall into when producing hiring videos, and you need to avoid them to be effective. Our barometer is engaging candidates on the questions they want answered the most: who would I work with?, who would I work for?, and what is the environment like?

Candidates have made it clear to us that they do not want to see a commercial. They want to see real people in a believable setting. As our friends at Sunol Group Media have said, a candidate is more likely to spend 2 minutes watching a video than getting pitched by a recruiter on the phone for 30 minutes.

We’re going to share with you how to best optimize this approach at in producing hiring videos at scale. Here are 3 areas you should focus on:

Pre-Production: Have a Plan for Maximum Efficiency

1. Create videos that can be used for multiple job openings

Small companies might be able to make a unique hiring video for each open job. Mid-size businesses will find it difficult, and enterprise companies will find it impossible. Make videos that can cover a lot more ground and be re-purposed for future use. You can attach dozens of jobs to a specific video by:

  • Creating videos by location if you are geographically diverse
  • Creating videos by job category (i.e. Sales, Engineering, Marketing, etc.) for a departmental focus
  • Provide the broad overview of a department and/or location while staying relevant

2. Pick the right people for each location and job category

You’ve likely got folks on your team who are the “closers”. When you have an A-Player coming in for a final interview, you want your “closers” to meet with them. These are the same types of folks you’ll want in your videos. You’ll be much more efficient as these folks more often take naturally to the filming experience. Some best practices:

  • Film founders, leaders, hiring managers, and/or team members the candidate will work for or with
  • Enterprise companies should focus on people in a like role if you are not able to film the actual people
  • Footage should be captured of the current team the candidate will be on or one very similar
  • Film in the actual workspace or environment where a candidate may spend time

3. Script questions that each interviewee will answer on camera

You want people to be prepared for what they have to say in front of the camera. Send them scripted questions that they will be asked to answer. This will shorten the amount of time you have to spend filming each person. It will also provide the interviewee with confidence that will be apparent in the video. Here are some sample questions:

  • Why do you work for the company?
  • Why does a top candidate want to work for your company?
  • What will the candidate be working on during their first 6 months, and what is their growth potential?

4. Create a style guide/notebook that can be updated over time

  • Track things like the time of day and week that works best for filming (people are more excited, lighting is good, etc.)
  • Index places that have worked best around the office or in the community for filming
  • You’ll want to give folks advice on what to wear based on what has looked good for previous videos
  • Keep track of the scripted questions you use, and other things that did and did not work well

5. Look for headlines

As you create hiring videos, find the headlines that are going to attract candidates. For example, I filmed this video for Klout late in 2012. The thing that jumped out was that the person in the video had left Facebook to join the company. That became an immediate theme, and the Ongig page with the video generated 168 social shares. Check it out:

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Filming: Tips For Achieving Volume

1. Utilize cheap and easy technology

The candidates have spoken…and they like authentic hiring videos. A $20K over-produced video strikes candidates as more of a “commercial”. This is good news when looking at the technology aspect of making hiring videos. Here’s all you need:

  • A SmartPhone shooting HD or a DSLR if one is available
  • Tripod : A still shot is an absolute must for all videos
  • Lapel Microphone: Sound is super important, and a microphone can limit background noise too

2. Set up a “photo-booth”

This is not a “photo-booth” in the literal term as much as good spots in your environment to film multiple people. Minimize the time employees spend, and maximize the consistent quality of your footage by setting up these “photo-booths”. You can have your equipment set up before people arrive, and have them spend 10 minutes in front of the camera. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Find a few key spots in the office with good natural light and color
  • Steer clear of area that have lots of noise, doors slamming, people shouting, etc.
  • Having people working in the background is a great idea, just make sure you have a microphone in those instances

3. Set production rules

  • Each video clip should be 2 minutes or less
  • Do not film a single person for more than 10 minutes worth of footage unless they are the only one in a video
  • 3 people should be the maximum included for most videos
  • Videos should NOT include reading a job description
  • Keep the video authentic, and do NOT over-produce it

Editing: Find Your Creative Options

1. Internship programs can make a big difference

There are awesome people who are looking to make their way in the creative field. Over the last 6 months, we’ve utilized Andrew Liu as our Creative Intern. He has created great value for Ongig, and better prepared himself for life after college. It would be hard to meet our production deadlines without him, and it has taken a minimal amount of training because he picked things up quickly. This was a tremendous win-win for both of us. Hint: He’s graduating from SFSU , and would welcome paying projects. Here’s an example of his work, produced from start to finish:

[youtube id=”umUk_g7aBHs” mode=”normal” align=”left”]


2. Giving back creates a pipeline

Since Andrew is graduating, I’ve had to look to other sources for interns and talent. I’ve been fortunate enough to join a curriculum advisory program at St. Mary’s College for the liberal arts program. There are a multitude of talented students looking to apply their skills and passion on real projects. I spend a few hours per month helping plan. In return, I’ll be engaging multiple interns to help with our upcoming projects

Another source of help for us is the Year Up program. By serving as a mentor in the program, we get to meet lots of talented people who can help in our creative projects.

The moral of the story is getting involved in schools and programs can open up your door to talented people motivated to get experience. You can have an impact on their careers, while producing creative content that will drive your Employer Brand.

3. File sharing takes planning

Most people will want to shoot video in HD. It’s totally viable, and easy to do at scale. However, you have to be aware that the file sizes can be large. Thus, when you’re sending them across locations sharing can be a challenge. Here are a few options:

  • FTP site: Your IT department will know more about this, and will need to set it up for you. It’s most efficient for transferring large files quickly
  • Dropbox: This is a good option for transferring files smaller in size, say 5GB or smaller. The challenge is the long period of time it can take to upload
  • YouSendIt: This is another file-sharing service which can take on video up to 10GB. The advantage is size and speed over Dropbox

One other thought on video is storage. You’ll want to have backup hard-drives or storage in the cloud where you can compress some of the video and place it for future use. You won’t use all of your footage for each video, so you’ll want to save the good stuff in a repository for the next time!

Take Action

The only way you are going to get better at hiring videos is by doing them. And you should know that some may not turn out to be as good as you would like. You just need to be prepared to learn and guide your team as to what will be most effective.

The outcome is that you can engage candidates at a higher level, and save the precious time of your team in the hiring process. Hiring videos can serve as a pre-qualifier as candidates “self-select” in or out during the beginning of the hiring process in an informed manner.

One more important thought…have fun with it! It can be a very rewarding process that teaches you a lot about your team and culture. We welcome your comments, feedback, and questions. Happy filming!



by in Recruiting Videos