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At Hilton Worldwide, job interviews are going digital

Hilton Worldwide has revamped its talent strategy to rely heavily on digital video interviewing technology, a tactic the company says has helped it better evaluate candidates, cut interviewing costs and speed up hiring.

Using a Web-based platform called HireVue, the McLean, Va.-based lodging giant has conducted more than 12,000 video job interviews in the past year and a half and is now planning to expand its use of HireVue to help fill a broader range of positions in its 300,000-person workforce.

The shift comes as the company looks for new ways to identify top workers in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace.

While the tool can be used to facilitate person-to-person interviews, its primary use at Hilton and other companies is for what HireVue calls the “on-demand interview.” In this format, applicants can sign on at any time using a desktop computer, Web-connected phone or tablet and be taken through a pre-built slate of interview questions.

The setup effectively eliminates the need to align the schedules of a Hilton interviewer and a job applicant. That allows recruiters to spend less time on screening and scheduling and more time on evaluating candidates.

A look at the practice question in Hilton’s HireVue interview. (Courtesy of Hilton WorldWide/Courtesy of Hilton WorldWide)

Rodney Moses, Hilton’s vice president of global recruitment, said he believes this format has created a consistency across interviews that has improved his team’s ability to accurately compare candidates.

“This way, everyone gets the same level of interview. It’s very objective,” Moses said. “Everyone gets the same questions, everyone gets a chance to tell their story.”

For applicants to customer service positions, Hilton is experimenting with using the platform to simulate encounters with disgruntled guests.

“If they see a guest screaming at someone because their coffee was cold, you can see [the applicant’s] reaction,” Moses said.

Moses said it’s also become easier for a candidate to be considered for multiple job openings. Perhaps a recruiter watches a video interview for one position and determines the applicant might be a better fit for a different opening. Using HireVue, that recruiter can quickly share the ­video with another Hilton recruiter.

The company is not using digital video technology only for hiring rank-and-file staffers: Hilton also uses a video-conferencing feature to conduct remote panel interviews, a format that is particularly useful when the company is looking to hire an executive. For example, if the company were trying to fill a leadership position in Singapore, Moses said recruiters would likely want the candidate to speak with Hilton leaders based in McLean and Britain. But it can be expensive to get those people in the same room.

“Just a handful of those would create thousands of dollars in savings in airline fees,” Moses said.

Hilton also hopes the option of doing a digital video interview will help the company in its efforts to reach and hire veterans. With this format, Moses said, military men and women can begin the interview process during a deployment.

Since Hilton made this strategic shift, Moses said the company has accelerated its hiring process by about three to four weeks, a time savings that can boost productivity and might sometimes save the company from losing a good candidate to a more nimble competitor. While Moses would not share an exact figure for the company’s savings in interview-related travel costs, he said it is “well over six figures.”

Hilton is not the only company that is exploring digital video interviewing. Mark Newman, chief executive of HireVue, said his company has attracted about 300 clients, including General Motors, Nike and Red Bull, and has quadrupled the volume of interviews it facilitates year-over-year. The majority of these interviews — 80 percent — are of the on-demand variety.

Many of the interviews include simulation scenarios, a feature that Newman said gets “close to in the moment, to really get a good assessment of how they would actually work inside your organization.”

Health-care companies, for example, can have an applicant demonstrate how he or she would explain a set of test results to a patient. This functionality has even been used by companies looking to hire cruise ship entertainers as a test of their charisma and musical chops.

“Ultimately, your interview process is kind of a misnomer,” Newman said. “It needs to be an interview experience.”

To read more about Washington area jobs and careers, check out Capital Business at

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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