More job candidates are spending time in front of the camera.
Increasingly, employers are using Internet videoconferencing tools, such as Skype, to vet applicants for jobs. It helps save time and some recruiting costs, and hiring managers can size up more candidates face to face.
With video, companies can get an early first impression of key factors, such as a job seeker's personality and communication skills, which helps narrow the applicant pool. But candidates must make careful preparations to make sure that they make a good on-camera impression, hiring experts say.
Videoconferencing will probably never replace an in-person interview, said Jessica Coronado Perez, administrator of personnel affairs with the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. But it has been an effective tool, particularly now when it's common for the school to get a flood of responses to a job opening, she added.
"If you have 20 to 25 individuals who are competitive, what is the best use of an individual's time to find out if this is a good fit?" Perez said.
UA's Phoenix medical school has used videoconferencing in many ways, she added. It has been used to interview job candidates who live out of state and it has been used to allow Tucson school officials to participate when a job candidate visits the Phoenix campus for a face-to-face interview, she said.
Intel Corp. is exploring using video during interviews for hiring interns and recent college graduates, said Tiffany Peery, a virtual- and marketing-program manager at the company. Intel plans to record job candidates as they answer a set of interview questions. This way, managers can review the material when they have time. Also, the human-resources staff can use the videos to pitch the best candidates to several Intel teams, which are spread across the U.S.
"The plan is to increase the quality of our intern hires and help Intel narrow the candidate pool for recent college graduate hiring," Peery said, adding that the method could also help Intel save on travel costs because the company can prescreen candidates before flying them out.
Christine Savi, 42, used Skype on her smartphone in February to interview for an accreditation compliance position at UA's Phoenix medical school. She was working in Fort Worth, Texas, at the time.
Since Savi had used videoconferencing before, she said she was comfortable on camera. Savi tested Skype before she used it for the interview. When it was time for the meeting, she propped the phone up on her desk so she could talk hands-free.
Savi is a fan of the video interview because it is convenient and allows face-to face-interaction. But, she added, for some job seekers, the technology "may add one more layer of anxiety."
"You may worry if your end isn't working or if there is some technical difficulty on their end," Savi said. There are other issues that may crop up. During her interview, Savi talked to a panel of five people but could see only three on her screen because of the school's camera angle. Also, since her screen was small, she could see some gestures, but it was more difficult to for her to see subtle body language, she said.
Arizona State University has also used videoconferencing for job candidates.
Job hunters should make sure that they make a good impression before they get on camera, said Dan Klug, an assistant director who handles recruitment for the school's human-resources division. Applicants should make sure their handouts or presentation materials are sent to their prospective employer ahead of time, Klug said.
Test the equipment. Make sure that your microphone, camera and Internet connection work well. Avoid rooms with an echo.
Dress for the interview. Even though interviewers can see you only from the waist up, make sure that you look professional. Wear colors that look good on camera and avoid patterns that don't.
Remember the background. Keep family members, pets and children out of camera and microphone range. Make sure the room is quiet and the background behind you is tidy and not distracting.
Get proper lighting. Sit in a well-lit area so that it's easy for the interviewer to see you.
Look straight into the camera. Eye contact with interviewers is extremely important and it's easy to tell when someone participating in a video conference looks off camera. Also: avoid looking at your own image, if it is visible on your computer screen.
Rehearse. Do a mock video interview with a friend and ask him or her to critique you. If you can, record the session and look for ways to improve.
by Jahna Berry The Arizona Republic Nov. 4, 2011 12:00 AM
More employers using Internet videoconferencing in interviews
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