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Karina Diaz Cano was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington D.C. She was laid off in July 2008. Previously, Ms. Cano spent several years working in multicultural marketing and sales roles for Sierra Nevada Brewery Co. and MKTG, a marketing services firm. She holds an M.B.A. from Georgetown University.

Karina Diaz Cano As the recession has progressed and our economy has changed, I’ve noticed that in many instances the interviewing process has changed right along with it, and in many cases doesn’t work the way it used to pre-2007 recession. Things are a lot tougher, not just with regards to fewer recruiters and more people competing for jobs, but in addition – companies themselves are cutting back their costs when it comes to interviewing.

In the past, I used to regularly receive face-to-face networking invites from companies in my email. Now, face-to-face networking invites come only from my alma mater, and increasingly, companies are doing many more interviews remotely and they may not even invite interviewees to fly in to interview with them on their dime. A few months ago, I had my first video conference interview where I spoke via video conference from a regional office location to interviewers who were located in another city at company headquarters. It was a very interesting process, and while I would have much preferred to fly out and meet everyone in person, I understand why companies prefer the video conference method, especially now. HR budgets are not immune from company cutbacks.

As for my thoughts on the video conference experience, while it does save money, it does have a few drawbacks. I feel the process leaves interviewers and interviewees lacking with regards to the ability to shake hands, and make that in-person connection. I also felt like I missed some of that interviewing chit chat where you basically get to know each other on an informal level, asking how traffic was, about the weather, etc. Meeting people face-to-face and connecting on a more personal level, versus video screen-to-video screen is where a local candidate would have an advantage.

During the interview there was another screen where I could see my image – the way the interviewer was seeing it. It was as if I was watching my own interview, which I’ve never done, and it made be conscious of my own body language, which was helpful. Additionally, this other screen also made me more aware than usual of the environment behind me that appeared in video view. There were people (who regularly worked in their regional office) passing behind the interview room, which appeared like quick colorful blips on the screen, and caught the corner of my eye at times during the interview, proving a mild distraction. At one point I made a conscious decision to stay focused on looking into the camera and interviewer screen as well as focus on their questions instead of getting distracted by what was going on behind me.

Seeing myself during an interview showed me how body language and extra hand movements (while speaking) might come across to an interviewer. After my first interview of the day, I consciously worked to minimize extra hand movements during subsequent interviews. I was also able to observe while looking at the videocamera (while waiting for the interviewers to arrive) how my posture looked in different seating positions. I was surprised that a position that I might judge as overconfident in an in-person interview was necessary to look…just fine, and even normal, in a video interview.

I spoke to a friend who just finished up doing a video conference interview himself, and he shared with me similar sentiments about not being as connected with the interviewers and having a slightly more challenging time focusing on the interview itself due to external, surrounding factors.

Besides putting the interviewee at a disadvantage, a video conference interview can also impact the company and interviewers. By using two video cameras, rather than real human interaction, companies and interviewers may miss out on that human element in the interview. Finding a good employee isn’t just about what they know, it’s also about how they can relate with other employees. ‘Do you want to work eight hours a day with this person?’, I often hear the question asked. I’ve won former employers hundreds of dollars in contracts by myself, through building strong relationships, and that’s something you can only do in person. I tend to do really well in connecting with people during in-person interviews, and the video conference tends to leave out the human element. If a company is looking strictly for content in interviews, then perhaps a video conference is the right vehicle. Saves money, and time. However to get the complete picture of a potential interviewee, I firmly believe an in-person interview is the winner.

Readers, what kind of experiences have you had with video interviews? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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        • 8:44 am July 8, 2010
        • Jan Martin wrote :

        I arrange 100's of video conferences a year for my company for recruitment purposes. If all candidates are being interviewed in this way then no individual one is at a disadvantage from the medium. Unfortunately you can not control the environment within the video conference facility that the candidate is linking from, however we have always found the video conference facilities in this network to be very reliable http://www.eyentwork.us.com

        • 3:50 pm December 4, 2009
        • Phone jammers wrote :

        Cool post as for me. It would be great to read a bit more concerning this topic.

        • 9:29 am July 5, 2009
        • Re. N_R wrote :

        Thats an interesting tactic N_R. I've tried something similar a couple times, but nobody ever took the bait. How many companies did you have to approach before any decided to agree to meet you?

        Also, I've found that since this recession has dragged on, employers are becoming impervious to unconventional job search tactics. For instance, I've written countless emails to companies I would love to work for but are not hiring right now. These would be hiring decision makers. In 2008, I would frequently receive feedback thanking me for my interest, and even a willingness to speak over the phone even if they aren't hiring at the moment. Not so now. People have a sort of defensive wall up now. They must have received so many networking and/or solicitations for work that they don't care who you are, they are just tired of turning people away. Thus, subtle networking efforts, or tactics to sneak in the backdoor are becoming increasingly difficult as people become more defensive.

        • 11:35 pm July 4, 2009
        • b2b wrote :

        good tactic N_R. nice way to get informational interviews

        • 9:53 am July 4, 2009
        • N_R wrote :

        I'm not sure what your geographical focus is, but if there are any big cities that you're targeting, here's something I did: I scheduled a self-financed trip to the area (usually driving, which was cheaper at the time, not sure now) and approached potential employers saying, "I'm going to be in town next week. Could I come by and meet with you?" (I would say this whether I'd decided for sure I was coming at all. If they said, "yes," then it was full steam ahead. If no one bit, I wouldn't go.) Often, I found that if the employer recognized that it was a "special occasion" of sorts for them to get a look at me (with little expense on their end), they would tend to see me. In effect, this even placed me ahead of the stack of resumes from local candidates on their desks, since there was clearly ZERO urgency for the employer to get around to seeing those people - - they'll always still be there tomorrow. So, my method helped create some urgency for my candidacy in their mind. (I guess it was just an urgency of convenience for them.) And, to the topic of your post, it could even get your foot in the door face-to-face at an earlier round than other candidates (who might be getting just video interview) would.

        I definitely had some success leaping ahead of the crowd with this method. I was willing to relocate, so I just used that strength to my advantage to maximum leverage. The job I finally got did come to me this way, although with the help of a recruiter/headhunter. A friend of mine had referred me to this recruiter, who was located in the city I would up moving to, and once the recruiter heard my line about, "I'm planning to be in town next week (and I can't remember whether that was true or not)," it lit a fire under her, and she lined up the first interview for the job I ultimately wound up getting. (I did have a bit of a panic when they wanted to second/final interview me when I was scheduled to be on the opposite coast of the country, but that's another story!)


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