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Video Technology Changing Interviewing Process

When you think about interviewing job candidates, what comes to mind? The interviewee makes sure his clothes are neatly pressed (and free of stains) and that his hair is combed, teeth are brushed, and palms are dry for the inevitable interviewer handshake. Well, today that handshake may never happen. Technology, especially video technology, is radically transforming your options for getting to know prospective job candidates.

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Video interviews
Employers are turning to video interviews primarily because of speed and cost. Korn/Ferry International uses them to quickly assess candidates. “It’s a vehicle and tool for companies and candidates to more quickly have initial conversations,” says the executive recruitment company’s Kim Bishop.

Hiring managers are increasingly located in offices far away from the location where the employees they supervise are based. Plus, the Internet has made almost any job search a nationwide (or even international) search, with qualified candidates applying from all over the country (or the world). Because of hectic schedules, it’s often difficult for a hiring manager to visit the location where the prospective candidate is located. Also, with company’s cutting all unnecessary costs, volatile gas prices and expensive airfares, the cost of dispatching a manager to a candidate or even flying in a candidate for an interview has become prohibitive for many.

Video interviews provide employers with a cost-effective and possibly logistically less complicated means of getting a job seeker in front of the hiring manager. A candidate can simply visit one of your company’s offices that is wired for video conferencing. The demand for video conferencing equipment is very strong — growing about 20 percent per year.

Many firms have fully integrated video conferencing into their internal communications framework. Those systems oftentimes will allow you to digitally record a conference or interview for future review by the interviewer or others involved in the selection process.

Of course, you don’t need a sophisticated video conferencing setup to take advantage of the possibilities of video interviewing. With high-speed Internet connections and webcams, anyone can start a video conversation. There are a number of service providers (for example, WebEx and Adobe Connect) that can assist you with the process. Importantly, the interviews can be conducted almost anywhere. The job candidate can be at a remote job site, on campus, or even at his house.

A Salt Lake City, Utah, company has devised a way to conduct video interviews even if you and your prospective employee don’t have a video camera. HireVue’s system even eliminates the need for the employer to do the interviewing. Job candidates respond to a series of questions, and a digital video of their responses is recorded and delivered to the prospective employer.

The digital videos can be reviewed at any time, the candidates scored, and the comments shared among “interviewers.” The vendor will set up a video camera in your location or send one to candidates wherever they are. HireVue claims to have conducted interviews in more than 45 countries.

The use of video technology for an interview also changes how employers and prospective employees should handle interviews. A list of tips for how you can make the most of video interviews and some pitfalls to avoid is provided below. Also included are some pieces of advice you should share with the interviewee to help guarantee a successful video interview.

Audit your interviewing policies and practices with the Employment Practices Self-Audit Workbook

Not being there: virtually interviewed
If you haven’t heard of Second Life, avatars, or Linden dollars, the rest of this paragraph will likely sound like science fiction. Many top-tier companies (including Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., Verizon Communications, Inc., and Sodexho Alliance SA) have been experimenting with using Second Life as a way to connect with job seekers. Second Life is a totally virtual world where real people create virtual identities for themselves known as “avatars” and use the virtual identities to roam around the virtual world.

The avatars can attend job fairs and even be interviewed virtually by employer-created avatars. TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications LLC recently hosted a job fair in Second Life in which almost 750 avatars requested interviews. Employers conducted 150 interviews. An interesting side note: Apparently, virtual interviewees have the same issues that real-life interviewees grapple with — it took many people hours and hours to “dress” their avatars for the interview.

It’s unclear if Second Life will develop into a real recruiting alternative. According to Accenture, which recently attended its first Second Life event, “This is relatively new for us, so our expectations aren’t high, but we do expect to get the message out. From that, we hope to generate significant interest.”

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Video resumes
Digital video allows everyone to become a star — even an applicant. Using a webcam and a little imagination, prospective employees can give employers a full video view of who they are and why they should be hired. Many job seekers feel constrained by the confines of the typical paper resume. They want to break out of the pack by letting employers see the complete picture — literally. YouTube has over 10,700 videos with the tag “resume.” Most are for regular Janes and Joes; however, there are a few humorous ones, including one from a frustrated Magneto, still smarting from his defeat by the X-Men.

Will employers ever take video resumes seriously? A Vault.com survey found that 17 percent of employers that responded had viewed a video resume and that almost 90 percent would view video resumes. More than 50 percent commented that such resumes could offer unique insight into a job seeker’s potential.

You also need to be wary that hiring managers could use factors unrelated to the job that are evident in the videos in the selection process. That could include race or gender, the physical attractiveness of a candidate, or other inappropriate cues the video may transmit.

Person to person
Traditional, in-person interviews aren’t likely to go the way of the calling card or telegraph anytime soon. HR professionals understand the value of interacting face to face with someone as a means of gleaning incredibly valuable hiring intelligence.

Technology can’t replace that experience. It can be useful, however, for getting to know candidates better and faster and as a screening tool for more seriously considering qualified, high-potential applicants.

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Tips for employers conducing video interivews

  1. Manage the “welcome” process just like a traditional inteview. If a candidate is visiting your office, someone should be assigned to greet him and be available assist and make him feel comfortable.
  2. If you want the applicant to fill out a form, see something, or react to something, think about it ahead of time. Remember, you won’t be able to just hand it to them.
  3. Remember that the candidate can see you. Remain focused on her throughout the interview. Don’t multitask or allow yourself to be distracted.
  4. Don’t let technical glitches affect your view of the candidate. Something is bound to go wrong with the technology — it isn’t the applicant’s fault.
  5. Don’t react to something you see in the background, if the applicant is at his house. That could lead to inappropriate questions.