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The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
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EST. 1915

Virtual Interview Performance Research

A recent Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) study has brought to light the first substantial evidence that individuals who watch an in-person interview and subsequently watch the same interview virtually, will rate the interviewee higher in the in-person format. This study was conducted by three of Missouri S&T’s assistant professors of psychological science: Dr. Denise Baker, Dr. Devin Burns, and Dr. Claire Kueny. The study has been published by Missouri S&T Researchers on the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction called “Just Sit Back and Watch: Large Disparities between Video and Face-to-face Interview Observers in Applicant Ratings.” With more and more interviews being conducted in a virtual setting, findings from studies like this one from Missouri S&T can help students prepare for virtual interviews and create a more successful outcome. The Missouri S&T researchers communicate that the goal of the study is not to prove that virtual interviews are ineffective. Rather, they state that it’s not completely fair for companies implementing both forms of interviewing to compare in-person conversations to virtual ones. 

The study was conducted with 84 participants, analyzed within 21 job interviews. The participants’ observations were the center of focus, and they were measured in three main aspects. The observations were based on the candidates’ presentation of themselves, the capability of the candidate, and how much attention the candidate received from the participant. The difference found between candidates in virtual and in-person interviews went further than just using a different medium to conduct an interview. The participants who viewed the online interviews rated the candidate significantly worse on all aspects of observation. “We actually found differences between video and in-person observation across all of our measures, including hireability, likeability, competence, agency (which includes human-related qualities like planning and self-control), overall positive or negative impressions, and even the watcher’s ability to pay attention.” Baker and Keuny stated. These differences may inform companies on the effectiveness of how they conduct their interviews, as opposed to how the candidates in the interviews conduct themselves. As Baker and Keuny said, “Really, it’s these interview watchers - those who are just sitting back to listen and then provide opinions later- that are most different live vs in video.”  It is recommended that interviewees initiate conversation with everyone conducting the interview, even those just observing and not directly asking questions. 

These researchers have several follow-up studies planned. “One of the most important ones is to determine whether impressions formed through video interactions are more or less accurate in judging candidate quality than those formed in-person. Although we found passive watchers had more negative impressions via video than in-person, this study standardized candidate quality - so it was the same candidate (an actor) providing the same general responses each time”, Baker said. The goal of studies like this one is to make companies and job applicants think about the best way to make the virtual interview process more successful for both parties.

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