Icelandair

Icelandair, part of the Icelandair Group, is headquartered in Reykjavík and operates scheduled services to 48 cities in 16 countries on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The geographical position of Iceland is convenient for one-stop transatlantic flights, which are one pillar of the airline’s business strategy. Employing over 5000 people, Icelandair Group is Iceland’s largest private employer, accounting for approximately 2.5% of the national workforce.

Context

Icelandair’s seasonal network requires 800 to 1200 additional staff over the summer months however they do enjoy excellent year-on-year retention.  For example, Icelandair fills the 550 additional cabin crew needed each summer from 55% retention from previous summers and 250 new recruits. In order to get through the volume of applications [over 1,700 applications for the cabin crew positions alone], Icelandair would typically begin their recruitment campaign in late July / early August for the following year’s summer crew.

“When I joined Icelandair as Recruiting Director in the summer of 2018, there were a variety of challenges to identify and confront. I was keen to investigate new technologies including Video Interviewing to optimise our recruitment process particularly with respect to high volume roles.” – Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson, Recruiting Director, Icelandair 

Key Findings

  • Cost Savings & Higher Conversions
  • Recruitment Cycle Reduced from 8 Months to 2 Months
  • 60% More Candidates Seen

Some of the Highlights

Prior to introducing video interviewing to their selection process, Icelandair spent at least 140 days of office duty on ‘Conference Halls’ that involved 25-30 staff conducting micro interviews and internal tests.

Sæmundsson mainlined “it was hard to maintain consistency and reliability with so many people involved in the recruitment process.” With the onus on interviewers to complete so many interviews over the course of one day, the time of the interview [towards the end of the day or just before lunch] had the potential to affect the candidate’s reception and experience.

“We had been dealing with a process that was taking up to 8 months to get back to candidates. There is always a risk in damaging one’s reputation when you leave people with open applications for that length of time.” – Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson

Now, candidates are invited to complete a short psychometric test, designed to measure integrity and conscientiousness, and a Sonru interview. Viewing is prioritised for interviews with higher scores. According to Sæmundsson: Our ultimate goal was to be able to progress such qualified candidates that we were able to hire 2/3 from the face-to-face interviews and it worked. Cost and time savings were also key considerations.”

“Sonru was really helpful in finding the right candidates. We met the best candidates in person after the video interviews and offered around 70% to take an Initial Cabin Crew Course.” – Auður Stefánsdóttir, Project Manager, Icelandair

Icelandair used to administer a written English exam which has since been replaced with two questions in English in the Video Interview.  The informal questions are looking at competency in English i.e. their ability to improvise and communicate effectively in English. This frees up the hiring managers from spending time assessing language skills during the face-to-face interviews.

Occasionally, candidates come forward saying that they are not comfortable with this method of interviewing. Candidates opting out on these grounds works well for us, especially for cabin crew roles, where they are going to be presented with uncomfortable situations regularly.” – Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson

Icelandair used the Media Questions functionality to show an inflight safety video and then asked candidates to answer a few questions. This enabled the hiring managers to assess the candidates’ speed in picking up and feeding back information in real time.

The ease of use of the Sonru application has also proved a positive. Sæmundsson says that using the system was so intuitive that it didn’t require any training for viewers. An important point given that the recruitment team are responsible for the administration and set-up alone while the hiring managers assess and score the video interviews.

The following is derived from the findings from 90 respondents who volunteered to complete a survey made available to all Icelandair candidates between August 2018 and March 2019.

  • 98% satisfaction with the candidate experience
  • 100% found the software easy to use
  • 97% would complete a video interview again
  • 77% had positive feelings when they received the invitation, with a further 20% neutral
  • 4% had completed a video interview in the past
  • 93% felt sufficiently informed about what was required before starting
  • 84% completed the video interview in their native language
  • 78% said their opinion of the hiring company improved since completing the video interview

“It’s fairer than other interview methods”:

  • 85% agree
  • 15% disagree

“It’s fairer to have more than one person assess my interview”:

  • 97% agree
  • 3% disagree

“It allows me to demonstrate my skills and experience”:

  • 87% agree
  • 13% disagree

Conclusion

While the real benefit to video interviewing was the time savings in terms of both resources and reducing our time to hire from 8 months to 2 months.  We were also able to interview 60% more candidates, which means 400 more individuals got a chance to prove themselves, a substantial increase.”

Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson, Recruiting Director, Icelandair