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Skype Hype: Are You Prepared For A Video Job Interview?

11 Jun

Companies are cutting costs and conducting job interviews via web. Are you ready?

 

When the video conferencing tool Skype achieved popularity in the middle of the last decade, it was mainly used to keep long-distancerelationships alive, lower phone bills–or to dump your significant other when you didn’t quite want to do it face-to-face (or so we’ve heard).

But as technology continues to help streamline various aspects of life, employers find themselves using video conferencing to conduct job interviews and save on travel expenses.

Last year, almost two-thirds of human resource managers in the U.S. said they frequently used video conferencing to conduct job interviews, a 50 percent increase from 2011, according to international staffing service OfficeTeam.

“[It’s] a way to quickly and cost effectively evaluate applicants,” says Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam’s executive director. “Job seekers can use these virtual meetings to put their best foot forward, just as they would in person.”

Video interviews can be mutually beneficial, especially when the employer and the candidate are in different cities. Companies don’t want to spend the money to fly in people they may not hire. Job seekers probably don’t have the money to buy a plane ticket either and they may not be able to get away from their current job on a weekday. It’s not out of the ordinary to ask a potential employer if a Skype interview is an option, career
counselors say.

“I have had a number of out-of-town candidates request Skype interviews,” says Carita Lackey, Director of Career Services at Westwood College’s Northlake campus in Atlanta. “They did not want to be excluded out of the competition due to the employer not paying for travel and relocation.”

Aside from the savings associated with not bringing someone in, video interviews give employers a distinct advantage. Hiring managers can tell you they aren’t interested in bringing you on board without the awkward handshake. And since you may be on a big screen in a conference room, the CEO, other employees and even the janitor could be looking at you, taking notes and aiding in the decision whether to hire you.

Companies also can be more selective in who they bring in for an in-person interview by assessing your performance visually: do you fidget, fool with your hair—do you appear confident
and assured? The job interviewer could be recording you and depending on how you perform, may produce a “What not to do in a Skype Interview” video, starring you.

But a video interview does have some perks for candidates. “A person can be more comfortable because the person is usually in their physical comfort zone during the interview,” says Atlanta-based writer Branden J. Peters. “[And] a Skype interview is a lot more cost effective for the job seeker. No paying for parking or gas.”

But, be careful not to get too comfortable. Having an interview in the comfort of your home could tell an employer too much about you, some things you may not want them to know. The same way the smell of cigarette smoke on your jacket can be off putting in a face-to-face interview, the sight of an ashtray on your desk can be as well. Same goes for empty bottles, video games, hairbrushes and other clutter. The hiring manager should be focused only on you.

That being said, you want to make sure you look squarely at the person on the screen. You don’t want to appear as though you are looking off into the distance during the conservation. And while the couch may look comfy and relaxing, you should sit at your desk with your shoulders square so you don’t appear to be slouching. Make sure the desk is in a room with clean walls – no posters, art or fraternity/sorority paraphernalia hanging in the background. Not only is it distracting, but the interviewer may also hate your favorite team, thinks your art is tacky or that you still behave like you are stomping on the yard.

And as with any interview, preparation is still important – live or on screen. Go through mock interviews with friends. Practice answering questions. And of course, make sure your computer works. That means a strong enough Wi-Fi signal and a charged battery.

And oh yeah, if you’re running Skype, make sure you shut off HootSuite, Words With Friends, Gchat or any other apps that can make noisy alerts during the interview.

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