Video Interviews — What The Savvy Job Seeker Should Know

A growing phenomenon in hiring today is the use of web-based video applications to conduct – and often record – job interviews. In fact, a study released by the Boston-based Aberdeen Group reports that 48% of the 477 organizations surveyed in their “Talent Acquisition Strategies” study are currently using video in some form as part of their recruiting process.

Of course, this trend has a bit of a history – albeit a relatively brief one. Early efforts were typically limited to very large employers contracting on an as-needed basis with a local videoconferencing provider; Kinko’s retail stores were an early favorite. With the advent of newer technologies, a number of firms began – and continue successfully today – to provide video interviewing platforms, products, and services to employers, customers, and HR departments as an outsourced web-based solution.  More recently, and simpler yet, anyone with a web cam – employers and candidates alike – can now download and use Skype for videoconferencing, bringing the “difficulty to implement” and cost factors down to almost nothing.

It is little wonder that hiring managers and recruiting firms are flocking to the practice. The big benefit, of course, comes in the form of reduced candidate travel costs.  One Fortune 50 employer that began piloting the practice this year reports early savings of about $800 per interview over traditional in-person interviews. In support of these initiatives, other firms cite the reduced time to fill open positions, a metric by which many internal and external recruiters are measured.  Other advantages include:

  1. Hiring managers minimize business interruptions by watching recorded interviews at their convenience, rather than being tied to an in-person interview schedule.
  2. Companies that are moving increasingly to a more virtual workforce can assess potential hires for the candidate’s comfort level and familiarity with remote work tools and practices.
  3. Applicants reduce the time spent traveling to interviews – important time that can be used to research and prepare for the interview.

The first strategy for the savvy job seeker who anticipates a video interview is a simple one: Practice, practice, and practice. Practice with a coach or mentor who can provide constructive feedback on both your delivery and the appearance and lighting of your conferencing space.  If you can tape and review a mock interview, all the better.   Also, be sure to check your Right Management RightEverywhere™ home page to see if iView™ is accessible through your Right Management program.

You should also research video conferencing on the Internet. A search can identify many helpful resources on topics such as selecting a video system, video etiquette, dress codes, body language, and presentation tips. To get you started, here are a few important guidelines:

  1. It is very important to dress appropriately, just as you would for a face-to-face interview. Your clothing should be professional, comfortable, and fit well.  Bright colors and patterns can become distorted over a video conferencing system – dark and neutral solid colors work well.  Be careful about over-accessorizing, which can be distracting.
  2. Ensure that the table surface in front of you is neat and organized. While you may have various reference materials and a note pad in front of you, your space should appear neat, organized, and clean.
  3. Remember that your interviewer will have a clear view of everything that is behind you. A muted blank wall is good, or an attractive neutral colored screen can limit the view and help with lighting. A cluttered bookshelf, a large bright painting, or the glare of direct sunlight, on the other hand, could be problematic.
  4. Check on the lighting in the room as well. Too much light can be harsh and unflattering, and shadows falling across your face or workspace are distracting.
  5. Give some thought to using the wall space behind the monitor screen, which viewers can’t see but is in your direct line of sight. You might tape a large piece of paper up behind the screen where you can list, in large red letters, the four to five points you KNOW you want to touch on. Also, a mirror hung there will remind you to smile.
  6. Make eye contact with the camera frequently. Unfortunately, if you find yourself looking down at your notes too much, the folks at the other end will be getting a very good look at the top of your head (which, for some of us, is not our best feature). Above all, smile frequently. Although this is harder to do over the screen than it is in person, you’ll be rewarded.

As is true with so many new technology applications, after you use video conferencing a couple of times, you’ll fall right into an easy relationship with it. It’s important though, to introduce yourself to the technology before the stakes are too high. Again, practice is key to doing your best in video interviews.

By: Ralph Haas


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