Career Center Blog

November 27, 2013

What remote candidates should know about video interviewing


NWjobs

A common question from candidates who want to move to the Seattle area is whether local companies use video interviewing to hire employees from outside the area. I always tell remote candidates seeking to engage potential employers via Skype or another videoconferencing service to keep a few things in mind:

• The more conservative or regulatory the industry, the less likely the company will be to use video interviewing.

• If you suggest to smaller companies that they interview you remotely, they may assume you are looking for relocation assistance. Be sure to express on your resume your willingness to move yourself, or mention that you will be relocating in X number of weeks. (Many recruiters skim or don't read cover letters, and applicant tracking systems often don't include cover letters when a resume is forwarded to a hiring manager.)

• Startup companies may be more willing to use video interviewing than larger, more established companies. Also less likely to consider hiring by video interview: very small companies; those with a high concentration of candidates locally, such as retail or cellphone customer service; or those in niche local markets (e.g., a machine shop supporting aerospace manufacturing, or video-game testers).

Some folks argue that it makes sense for companies to save money by using video interviewing instead of flying in candidates for interviews. Frankly, usually when I use video interviews is when the candidate is on-site but one of the key interviewers is out of town.

One of the biggest issues with video interviews is technology: Unless the candidate has a strong, fast internet connection, streaming problems can heavily interfere with the flow of conversation and put the candidate in a bad light. Few things are more frustrating than the connection cutting out in the middle of a conversation.

In addition to the distractions, there is limited interaction in a remote interview, making it difficult for both parties to read body language. The candidate sits in a room, the interviewer sits in another room somewhere else, and the interchange is often stilted. Sound quality can be poor, which can increase the difficulty of cross-cultural communication, especially with non-native English speakers. Time zones also can play havoc with scheduling.

It's difficult to assess functional skills, as video interaction hampers the ability to conduct in-depth exercises. A video interview also doesn't allow a candidate to take a tour of the office, meet other employees in the work group, or see the dynamics of the work environment. If a company pays for relocation, part of the reason for flying in candidates is to let them get a feel for the area and answer lifestyle questions.

Keep all of this in mind as you conduct a job search from afar. Above all, remember that a video interview isn't the same as just chatting with your family when you are out of town. Prepare yourself by focusing on the fact that the point of an interview is to assess someone's communication skills, grace under pressure and body language in addition to his or her functional abilities.

Kristen Fife is a Seattle-area recruiter, mentor and blogger. Email her at kfife@nwjobs.com.

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Contributor

Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

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