While many people – including myself – cling to the belief that nothing replaces an in-person meeting, the next best option is a video interview. The majority of candidates I represent are typically home-based and report to managers located hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. That coupled with busy travel schedules on both ends creates logistical nightmares when it comes to lining up in-person interviews. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.In my tenure as a headhunter in the Cloud/Infrastructure niche, I’ve seen the hottest technologies become commoditized. LinkedIn profiles are quickly replacing resumes and there is a HUGE increase in video interviews, or video chats.
Common Applications for Video Interviewing
A hiring manager may choose to include a video chat in the interview process for a number of purposes:
Getting to know you
Unless it’s overwhelmingly convenient from a location and scheduling standpoint, the first interview is typically an exploratory phone call. Having the opportunity to interact face-to-face on a video chat will always provide greater insight into whether it is worth moving to the next step (for both parties).
This is usually applied to the technical folks that I represent who are asked to present a product demo or POC (Proof of Concept).
Allowing their boss to meet you
Often times there is a requirement (by HR or self-imposed) for VP or C-level approval on hiring. Rather than push out a final interview until the big-wig is available, some of my clients are beginning to rely on video chat to satisfy that requirement sooner.
Replacing the in-person interview completely
“Laying eyes on the candidate” is usually a must. That said, in unique circumstances where timing is an issue, a video chat can replace the in-person meeting completely. I recently made my first hire with a client in that scenario. While I don’t see it becoming a trend in the near future, it can and does occasionally happen.
Trends on Video Interviews
Since starting my recruiting career about five years ago, there has been a consistent increase in the amount of video interviews year over year.
- 2011 less than 20% of the interview processes included a video chat
- 2012 saw a small increase to just under 25%
- 2013 the number shot up to close to 40%
- 2014 about 60% of all our interview processes included a video chat
- To date (as of 6/2015) 75% of the interview processes we are running consist of a video interview
The marked increase is likely due to a number of factors:
- More tech-savvy hiring managers that are comfortable using the technology
- Higher reliability of Wi-Fi and availability due to smart phones/tablets
- More competitive candidate-driven hiring environment and recognition that “Time Kills All Deals”
- Busier travel schedules
- Our recommendations to clients based on previous success
Tips to Nail the Video Interview
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin. I found that this quote was fitting for how you should treat the video interview. Bottom line is that video chats – at least within the technology arena – are being increasingly relied on by decision makers. When it comes to influencing the hiring decision, you’d better be prepared to knock your video interview out of the park.
Since this is a substitute for an in-person meeting treat it as such. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you nail the video interview:
Test your platform
The worst thing you can do is be late or a complete no show to an interview. Make sure to test whatever platform you’ll be interviewing on with a recruiter, friend, or family member prior to the interview to ensure it’s in working order.
Dress to impress
Dress as if you were going to be in the prospective employer’s office – in most cases a suit and tie.
Be otherwise presentable
Brush your hair, shave (if it applies), don’t have coffee or lunch’s leftovers visible in the picture and check your teeth.
Maintain eye contact
This is where many candidates struggle. I receive feedback from interviewers that candidates were looking down, or taking notes most of the time rather than being engaged in the conversation. Make sure to remain engaged.
Keep the surroundings professional
No, it is not OK to be sitting on your bed with your device on your lap even if you’re suited up! The best and most obvious place would be a home office. If that is not possible, reorient your surroundings to keep distractions to a minimum.
Spouse, kids, pets should stay out of the picture
While during the course of an interview your family life may come up, they should not literally pop up on screen or be audible during the conversation.
While this is not just applicable to a video interview it is so important I have to include it. It doesn’t matter what you’re interviewing for, or with whom it is; closing for the next step is a must.
As you’re wrapping up the discussion ask if there are concerns. No interviewer will proactively bring up concerns, but if you ask they may provide you the opportunity to address those concerns and potentially turn it around.
Once the concerns are addressed ask for the next steps. If you’re not speaking with the final decision maker, ask the interviewer if you can count on their endorsement when they provide feedback to the hiring authority.
Ask for an email address
I recommend that my candidates ask for business cards after an in-person meeting so they can send a brief follow-up email. In the case if a video interview, ask for an email address – trust me, they will understand why you’re asking and the majority of times will not hesitate to provide it to you.
While all this may seem like common sense, remember the common saying based on Occam’s razor – the simplest answer/approach is usually correct. Underestimating the basic principles of interviewing would be failing to prepare for potentially one of the most important conversations you will ever have.
Mark Sasson is a Search Consultant for Rayboy Insider Search, specializing in recruiting Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Field Engineering talent in the Cloud/Infrastructure market. Mark starts his day with the mission of creating a match with the clients and candidates he represents by building long-term relationships based on trust, professionalism and results. Connect with Mark Sasson on LinkedIn.