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Education Researchers Give Tips about Video Conferencing Job Interviews

August 05, 2013

Video conferencing has been used in a host of different environments to conduct live two-way video and audio transmissions in near-real time -- through a Webcam via computers and mobile devices -- to carry out online meetings, training, educational courses, and much more. It has also been used for job interviews. Even though convenient for most, it is considered not the best approach as it “can put both interviewer and interviewee in a negative light,” as stated by associate professor Willi Wiesner and Greg Sears, a former PhD candidate at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.

In an article posted on the schools’ website, on the Daily News page, job interviews through video conference have been given two thumbs down by the scholars. The negative rating was given as Wiesner and Sears believe the use of such technology in employment interviewing has too many disadvantages and can “adversely affect both applicant reactions and interviewer judgments.”

From their study on the matter, they noticed a widespread use of video conferencing in recruitment; in fact, more employers have reported using the technology for job interviews: Its use has gone up from 50 percent to 65 percent in recent times. This increase in use is believed to be the result of convenience and cost savings that videoconferencing provides. In fact, many companies have called upon video conferences as ways to cut travel time and reduce both costs and environmental impacts of business operations.

In spite of the growing use, according to the two scholars, the results of the use of this technology are not encouraging in recruiting. In fact, candidates interviewed via video are often rated lower by interviewers and are less likely to be recommended for hiring. Job applicants are also more often perceived as less trustworthy and competent.

Wiesner and Sears recommend the use of videoconferencing only for preliminary screening interviews and advise using face-to-face interviews when employers put together a final selection of candidates in order to “improve the interpersonal aspects of the interview process."

Although they’d like to see less use of videoconferencing in interviewing to reduce the barriers that are between the hiring committee and the candidate, the scholars recognize this may not always be feasible as, sometimes, the recruitment process involves different remote offices or board members that are located in different geographical regions. Nonetheless, they offered 10 tips for using video conferencing for job interviews, which are listed next.

Use the same interview approach—whether that is face-to-face or video conferencing—on all candidates who are competing for the same job position.

Both interviewers and applicants should use reliable equipment and have a stable Internet connection not to disrupt the conference. A video conferencing (VC) solution like Yamaha's ProjectPhone can enable high fidelity remote conferencing, and using a device like the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam can provide a plug-and-play high-quality, omni-directional microphone/speakerphone which is apt for a videoconferencing system.

It is important for both the interviewer and the candidate to have the webcam placed where s/he can be seen best and heard clearly, too.

As communicating via technology is different than meeting face-to-face, it is important to note one’s tone of voice, be able to vary pitch, use hand gestures and be more expressive with faces and voices in order to be heard or understood. Among other important points:

Preparation is necessary, at least for the job candidate. It may be a good idea to do "mock interviews," which could help one avoid uneasiness and feeling anxious or nervous.

It may be necessary to engage in small-talk beforehand to allow both the applicant and interviewer to get comfortable with the technology. It is essential to be ready at both ends in order to make the VC interview as good as it can get.

Add an element of familiarity to the impersonal feeling associated to video conferencing by showing videos of existing employees and/or their work/non-work activities.

Be able to convey interview questions with confidence and a pleasant attitude without the need to repeat them. Be or have a note taker as one goes through the Q&As.

Conduct a VC interview for pre-screening job applicants. Consider face-to-face interviews for final section, if possible.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson