Successful Video Interviewing

One of my favorite pastimes is to watch old movies and TV shows to see how they predicted the future. I’m still waiting delivery of the personal robot and jet packs that we were all promised, but from the silly (The Jetsons) to the dramatic (Star Trek) to the profound (2001: A Space Odyssey), one thing that was predicted correctly was our use of video for conversations. Here we are, like George Jetson, Captain Kirk and the 2001 astronauts, using our video cameras and computer technology to communicate with people down the street or on the other side of the world. Recruiters have picked up on this technology to lessen their costs and increase their productivity.

So if you’re just getting started, what’s the best platform to use? For basic usage, Skype and Facetime seem to be the best options. Facetime has become quite popular, but it should be noted that it only works with Apple products. It may seem like everyone has an iPhone or an iPad, but that’s not the case. If you have those products, Facetime is pre-loaded, so you don’t have to worry about downloading software. Skype is now owned by Microsoft, and there are free versions for both PC and Mac applications. Thus, it retains wider usage and availability. Of course, if you want more bells and whistles, all you have to do is Google “video interview platform” and you’ll find plenty of companies dying to sell you their video conferencing packages.

Once you’ve settled on the platforms, the actual task of video interviewing is not that different from in-person interviewing. Yet, there are some elements to remember. First of all, we’re dealing with technology, which means things can go wrong. So, testing the equipment before every interview is an important detail. It’s like the old mantra: count on getting a flat tire on the way to work, and if it doesn’t happen, you’re just there a little early. All of the major platforms allow you to do test runs and let you see what you look like on camera. Assume that the candidate is also doing a test run, but be prepared to make adjustments once you’re both online.

Video interviews can give you great insights on a candidate’s appearance and body language, but keep in mind that the camera and microphone can pick up things that we generally ignore. For example, many coaching sites tell candidates to pick a professional looking atmosphere to place the camera. You should do the same. Keep in mind that white backgrounds can make you look flat, and will create hard shadows. Keep the sun at your back, but never frame against a window as the camera will be unable to discern the light and shadow combination and will put you in silhouette. If you’re looking for eye contact, remember that you must look into the camera, not the screen. Further, as many movie stars have learned, one should train oneself to look at the camera with their downstage eye to avoid looking cross-eyed on camera.  However, the biggest problem can be the microphone, which is usually sensitive enough to pick up all sorts of little noises. The simple act of shuffling papers can sound like a torrential windstorm, and you probably have more paper on your desk than the candidate.

If prepared and conducted correctly, a video interview can save your company the cost of flying a candidate in for an interview, and can help you decide if a candidate is ready to hire or eligible for a further interview.

Gotta go—the mailman’s at my door. Maybe he’s delivering my robot…Thomas Cunniffe

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