Q&A: Zhamal Nanaeva: “HR as we know it will cease to exist”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 9 Mar 2016

Urban Associates’ co-founder on why HR needs to evolve its use of technology, and how video interviewing can unlock speedier recruitment

Zhamal NanaevaUrban Associates is the UAE-based consultancy startup behind the Middle East's first online video interview platform, My Interview. People Management spoke to its co-founder and chairman Zhamal Nanaeva about technology's growing role in recruitment, why video interviewing can speed up the recruitment process, and whether technology is taking over HR's role.

What should companies think about when planning for and conducting interviews?
In short – do not take anything for granted and test softer aspects of each candidate. Quite often, after a successful interview, employers are disappointed with their selected candidates. There are several ways HR managers can 'deep dive' into a candidate’s personality – the most popular way is through psychometric assessment. Employers should also be leveraging the power of social networks.
 
Should we be embracing technology to the point where HR's role is diminished?
Today, LinkedIn has over 11 million users in the Middle East, including 2.76 million users in the UAE. This number is expected to grow, and is a sign of the growing influence and use of technology and internet platforms by professionals in the region. This calls for immediate measures by companies to modify their HR practices and to use web technology for higher exposure and better survival in the future. Organisations can use online platforms to interact with potential employees, and video interviewing can play an important role. Videos on YouTube get almost 258 million views every day from visitors in the Middle East. So if video viewing is popular, why not video interviewing?
 
As we are witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, technology and artificial intelligence will play a more prominent role in our work and lives. Needless to say, HR as we know it today will also cease to exist. HR's role will not diminish, though; it will grow in prominence as the role of employees in future organisations will gradually shift towards designing and managing tasks.
 
How did you come up with the idea for screening platform My Interview?
The idea of My Interview came out of struggle with job interviews. Each interview was by far the most time-consuming and expensive task in the hiring process. We often wished we could see the candidate before inviting them for a face-to-face interview. Also, CVs and phone interviews are not effective screening tools and cannot replace visual interaction.
 
What are the advantages of video interviews, other than cost and time saved?
Digital screening is designed for organisations that value sustainability. But it’s important to remember our solution is designed for screening and not interviewing of candidates. Industry research indicates that using digital screening helps significantly improve the quality of candidates invited for face-to-face interviews. However, our experience shows that for organisations seeking to hire admin and junior staff, or for universities seeking to admit students, digital screening may well serve the purpose of both screening and interviews.