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4 questions on video interviewing with career expert Miriam Salpeter

Miriam Salpeter head shot.pngAs a small business owner, it’s not always practical to bring people in to interview for open positions. You may be looking all over the country (or the world) for the right person, and getting them into the office can be cost-prohibitive.

Lately we’ve seen a lot written about the rise of video interviewing, so it seemed like a good time to sit down with career expert Miriam Salpeter to talk about what you – the interviewer – would want to know before you fire up your webcam.

When does it make the most sense to use video calling to interview candidates for jobs?

When you need to know how a job seeker interacts face-to-face, but an in-person meeting is inconvenient, Skype is a great choice. It allows you to evaluate everything from the candidate’s attire to his or her body language. If the job seeker fidgets, is restless or excessively nervous, or can’t seem to answer a question without referring to notes, you will know.

How should the interviewer prepare the candidate?

Send information about how to get set up on Skype, how to add your Skype name to their directory, and how to test out the microphone. Remind candidates to look at the camera and not the screen during the meeting.

What needs to be done differently when interviewing someone on a video call as opposed to a phone call (both in how we would prep and in how to conduct the interview itself)?

Don’t expect to use your computer screen for anything except to interact with candidates; print all interview documentation, including your questions, the candidate’s resume, and other materials you need for the interview or save them to another device. Clear the background of unsightly piles and clutter to avoid distractions, and arrange to sit where you are well lit, but without excessively bright light behind you.

During the call itself:

  1. Look directly at the camera; do not look at yourself on the screen. Practice this before your first interview.
  2. Do not move the camera during your conversation, or you may make the candidate seasick!
  3. If you normally give non-verbal cues during an in-person meeting (such as nodding your head), do the same during the Skype call so the candidate knows you are listening.

How can we judge a job candidate during a video interview? Should we be keeping our eyes out for anything specific?

Observe the same things you would during an in-person meeting:

  • Does the job seeker answer questions directly, accurately, and completely?
  • Is the candidate engaged and enthusiastic?
  • Can the applicant communicate well, present a professional appearance, and effectively represent you or your organization?

Other things to consider:

  • If you sent tips in advance to help job seekers prepare, evaluate how they follow instructions based on how efficiently they sign on and respond to your Skype calls.
  • If you need candidates to use technology on the job, asking for Skype interviews gives you the chance to see how well they are able to get up-to-speed successfully.

Do you have experience with video interviews? Share your top tips in the comments.

Miriam Salpeter is owner of Keppie Careers, a coaching and consulting firm that helps job seekers and entrepreneurs leverage social media and other tools to achieve their goals. Author of Social Networking for Career Success and co-author of 100 Conversations for Career Success, Miriam also writes for U.S. News & World Report’s On Careers column and for AolJobs.com. She’s been featured on CNN and her advice has been quoted in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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