Improving video conferencing interviews

You heard it (read it) on the Grapevine

Improving video conferencing interviews

July 31, 2013
whyGo Gazette

Video conferencing has been introduced in such a wide range of environments over the past handful of years that it is not surprising to hear that the technology has introduced new struggles to some areas of business and personal life. A recent article published on Business News Daily looks at a study performed by the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Ontario that suggests video conferencing interviews are bad for all parties involved. The article summarizes the issue as follows:

"Using simulated job interviews, researchers found that candidates who were interviewed via video conferencing were rated lower by interviewers and were less likely to be recommended for hiring. On the other side of the webcam, candidates rated their interviewers as less attractive, personable, trustworthy and competent."

All concerns about study scope and integrity aside, the article raises an important point - video conferencing interviews do have a long way to go. Of course, one of the first issues we face in making these interactions more reliable is the balance between the importance of the communication and the technology supporting it. Most video conferencing interviews tend to take place on free or near-free software because the average job candidate does not have access to high-end video conferencing. As such, it is not entirely surprising that issues with connectivity, quality, and overall effectiveness of a program such as Skype might hinder perceptions in an interview.

What kind of solutions can be reached? For one, video conferencing and telepresence facilities might be used to provide users with a one-time chance to take part in a video interview using stronger technology. In general, preparation for the interview is key - for both the interviewer and the applicant. Each party should come prepared with materials, professional demeanor, and experience using the video conferencing tool of choice successfully.

Share your experience with video conferencing interviews in the comments!

Video interviews are becoming increasingly common, and it just makes sense to prepare for that probability. There's one tip that will help you cover all your bases:

Record a practice video interview and critique it.

You'll need to enlist a friend to be the "boss," asking questions from their computer, but if you can't do that, record a video presentation of your qualifications for the job. Now sit down and watch that recording a few times, and take notes on what could be improved. There are a lot of video interview tips online, and they all come down to three things - what you look like, what you act like, and what you sound like.

What you look like includes the background, lighting, your grooming & clothing, and camera angles. What you act like covers eye contact (look at the camera and not at the screen!), your speech patterns, fidgets, ability to present your case, and gestures. What you sound like is partly your pronunciation, true, but a lot of it is technical. The location of your microphone, the echoes in the room, your equipment, and connections will make a huge difference here.

The one thing you will not be able to assess is the actual connection you will have in your real interview. If you can get that information ahead of time, it's a good idea to do so. You may even want to consider renting a public video conferencing room for a job interview, simply because the technology and support necessary for a high quality video interview will be there already and you can focus on being prepared to present yourself professionally.

The job market is not an easy place to be in these days. With so much competition in a variety of fields, people are constantly expanding their scope of work, geographic locations of potential positions, and so on. That makes it harder and harder for job seekers to reach places for interviews when they are widening their range so much. Thankfully, there is technology on the market that can help make this entire process a lot easier. whyGo corporate account has the potential to improve the practices commonly associated with recruitment, job seeking, and interviews.

Imagine that you apply for a position that is in the next state - something like at least a four-hour drive. You're willing to relocate if you are offered the position, but in the meantime, you have your current job or other duties keeping you busy., Getting to and from that interview could be an entire day of traveling, and many people just don't have that time (especially considering interview schedules can be very rigid). What if, instead, you could connect with your potential employer through a video conference? It could be just that simple.

There are a variety of free or nearly-free programs available that run on a number of platforms that most people already own. If you've got a laptop, desktop computer, mobile phone, or tablet, you can partake in a video chat. Recruiters should also have access to the necessary tools. Now, recruiters can schedule more interviews per day, job seekers don't have to travel nearly as much, and everybody wins.

Of course, there are a few limitations to this system. Technical difficulties may come into play, and sharing of documents over free or near-free services isn't always easy. Nevertheless, video conferencing is a huge step up from the phone interview process, and should be heavily considered in all businesses and institutions.

Many companies are moving into the increased use of temporary staffing. While this can be an efficient use of resources, it can also drastically increase the workload of the HR department charged with hiring this expanded workforce.

Since it is now possible to hold a video conference on varied devices, it's a logical step to add videoconferencing to the applicant screening process since multiple interviews can be scheduled in a relatively short period of time. With WhyGo's web-based company-branded scheduler, your solution is at hand.

Ad-hoc rooms, multiple devices, multiple services, and more, are within the capabilities of the room scheduling system, and it's all within your company control. This makes it easy to interview one candidate from their laptop in the coffee shop, then interview the next in their living room on a desktop, and a third on their phone if you have to. You can connect to wherever the candidate is located and get an assessment of their demeanor because you have the advantage of video as well as audio.

Screening job applicants this way provides an efficient way to streamline the process and conduct more initial interviews. You can then bring the cream of the crop into the building for the final interviews. You don't waste anyone's time - yours or the applicants. Once you have your Corporate Account booking system, it's simple to schedule anybody for an interview, anywhere, any time, on any device, in any kind of venue, and on any service.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, you'd think that having business meetings from coffee shops and the like would also be proliferating. But you'd be wrong.

Business people need to communicate clearly during their meetings because communication is money, and miscommunication is money lost. During a video conference, the connection, equipment, and environment all are important factors in communication.

Even though an entrepreneur can easily work on a laptop from a public spot like a coffee shop, to meet with clients, it is important that the environment of that meeting be controlled as much as possible. If a video conference is desired, the noise of the public interferes. Clashing cups, conversations at the next table, and chaos are easy to tune out if you are wearing earbuds but come clearly across on a microphone. Backgrounds are distracting, too, with people walking back and forth behind you.

Renting a public video conference room gives you professional background and equipment for a fraction of the overall cost of the facility.

You can find a nearby room on the WhyGo network and set up your video conference as easily as you could find a hotel room and book a flight to get there -- and spend less time and money on your meeting. That gives you more time and money to invest in the business that results from that meeting. With a public video conference room rental on the WhyGo network, the connection is set up for you by professionals, the equipment is business-standard or higher, and the environment is designed for one purpose: to make communication in a video conference optimal.

In a world enduring hard economic times, it is more important than ever that businesses are able to find capable leaders who can help drive companies towards success and stability. In the last ten years, there have been more than a handful of scandals involving executives who have made poor choices or amoral decisions which negatively impacted their companies and the people connected to them. That's why in today's executive job market the weight falls heavily on recruiters and HR departments to find a reliable person to fill in for such an important position. Unfortunately, that reliable person might not be very close by.

So what if it were possible to conduct a thorough interviewing process remotely so that a company can reach out to people all over the world and be able to pick the very best person for a leadership position? With advancements in video conferencing and telepresence technology, that hypothetical situation is now a reality, and it's already happening.

Recent studies have irrefutably shown that video conferencing is a growing market. An estimate published by research firm Ovum recently suggested that

As businesses increasingly adopt enterprise-grade telepresence tools, the global videoconferencing market will surge at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5 percent from this year to 2016, when it will reach US$1.1 billion. (ZDNet)

There's a good reason that telepresence, the highest standard of video conferencing available, is driving today's market. In a competitive business environment where conferences and other meetings can be responsible for very important decisions, communication must be exceptional. Interviews are not an exception.

Differences Between In-Person Inverviews And Video Conferencing

A sub-quality connection can be a negative influence on both ends of an executive interview - it can put the person being interviewed off from the whole experience, and it can give the interviewer trouble in understanding that person's messages and his or her overall character.

Another recent article published in The Arizona Republic titled "More employers using internet videoconferencing in interviews" confirms this market growth. Among other highlights, the article mentions that the introduction of the video conferencing interview has made it "common... to get a flood of responses to a job opening." This type of response to a virtual interview can be expected at all levels of employment opportunities, especially when the job market has people in such tight situations.

One thing that companies and the public in general will have to get over is the perceived difference between the video conferencing interview and a face-to-face meeting. The administrator of personnel affairs with the University of Arizona's College of Medicine in Phoenix said, when being interviewed by The Arizona Republic, that "Videoconferencing will probably never replace an in-person interview."

But why is that?

If you compare the opportunities available in a stable video conferencing interview to those in a face-to-face interaction, you'll find there are actually few differences. In fact, some might suggest that video conferencing is preferable for the person being interviewed because it might help calm the nerves. In an article about video conferencing interviews on Mother Nature Network, an account manager familiar with the process is quoted as saying:

You're doing it in the comfort of your home, so you're not going to be nervous. You're going to be excited and pumped up about it, but you're not going to be too nervous because you're already in your comfort zone. This is the way you talk, and the companies actually get a real view of who you are.  (MNN)

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