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Dec 06

Category: Interview tips, Job Search, Technology

Looking for a new job? You may need to make sure your webcam is ready.

Companies big and small are increasingly using video, rather than the telephone, as the first stage in the job interview process.

It’s becoming more common, too. A survey by Right Management, recently found that almost 20 percent of candidates have been asked to interview by webcam and 82 percent of hiring managers have used Skype during the recruitment process.

It’s perhaps no surprise that video interviews are most common at either end of the hiring spectrum — for entry-level roles and for senior executives — where hiring costs are greatest. It’s quicker and easier, after all, to screen hundreds of junior candidates by video than to bring them to the office or to avoid possible travel expenses for senior hires by chatting online first.

Video interviewing might, therefore, have its fans in Finance, but are hiring managers and candidates embracing this new age? Perhaps not so much.

How companies are using video

For most firms, webcam interviews are a direct replacement for telephone screening calls. That is to say, they are real-time, two-way discussions, which last for perhaps 30 minutes.

Others, however, are opting for pre-recorded, one-way, so-called robo-interviews. In this scenario, candidates are directed to a company hiring website and are guided through a series of questions either by text prompts or after having had them read out by a recorded voice. The candidate answers during a specified time frame, submits, and later a hiring manager reviews on their schedule.

It’s the latter that has the Finance teams really excited. That’s because some firms are claiming that the efficiencies obtained from being able to cycle through videos (ending bad ones early, skipping boring bits, or trying to multitask) can cut down the hiring cycle< from almost a month to something closer to a week.


While they may save time and money, there’s a chance that this approach is leading to worse hires.

One business school study, for instance, found that job applicants interviewed through video came across as less likable, while those doing the hiring appeared as less competent. The result? Talented candidates may be skipped by those doing the recruiting or candidates may reject the company based upon a negative video-chat experience.

There are also questions about how closely hiring managers are paying attention when the interview isn’t live. In live, two-way, interviews the recruiter/employer needs to at least stay broadly on the ball to respond to the interviewee’s responses, answer questions, etc.

However, in one-way interviews, there’ll be a strong temptation to try to multitask. The result is probably going to be a reliance on mental shortcuts, like visual appearance, attractiveness, tone of voice, and so on, rather than substance. That, one might argue, feels a bit like a step backward toward the days of photographs in the right-hand corner of CVs.

There’s also a practical consideration. Whereas video interviews for graduate-entry jobs may work just fine, since grads can record video interviews pretty much at their leisure, they pose more of a logistical challenge for experienced hires.

Taking a telephone interview during the workday is fairly simple. However, sneaking away with your laptop in tow for a webcam interview is a little harder to pull off. Similarly, if a colleague catches sight of you on the phone, so what? If they spot you in the corner of Pret talking to your computer, they may start to wonder what’s up.

That’s a serious point when it comes to mid- and senior-level jobs where passive recruitment is often the best way to attract the highest quality new employees. Companies ought to be looking at ways to make it easier, rather than more difficult, to reach passive job seekers.

Quick tips for acing a video interview

Like it or not, video interviews are no doubt becoming more common. How then, can you make sure the interview is as successful as possible? Here are five quick tips:

#1. Test your internet speed and tech in advance

Fumbling around for the first five minutes trying to get the camera working does not make a good impression. Call your partner/parents/best friend using the same tech and web connection to see how it works first. Don’t rely on the quality of the free Starbucks Wi-Fi, basically.

#2. Dress as you would for a physical interview

Dressing professionally (from head to toe, not head to waist), is still key. You should also test how colours appear on screen, however. Some shades, patterns, and accessories, may be very distracting for the viewer.

Read more: What should you wear to a job interview?

#3. Remember, body language matters

Without another human to respond to it’s natural for our body’s to become motionless. Focus a little mental energy on remembering to smile and gesture a little as you listen and respond.

Read more: How to use your body language to succeed in interviews

#4. Think about your surroundings

A quiet, non-descript room is best. Make sure that background noise is at a minimum, your partner isn’t about to stroll past with the laundry, and there are no embarrassing messes in the background.

Read more: 5 tips for acing a telephone interview

#5. Have your notes ready

Have any attachments, like a copy of your CV or a cover letter, open and positioned so that you can see them and quickly reference them without any suspicious clicking or shuffling around.

Read more: 7 things to do on the morning of your interview