Use videoconferencing for job interviews

By David Essex, ITworld.com |  Career

Get a room

If you want to try video interviewing and your company lacks its own remote facilities, you'll have to book a room near the candidate. Live video interviews are more feasible if you own equipment at the recruiter's or hiring manager's location. If your company has such facilities, it might have a full- or part-time videoconferencing coordinator who can do the legwork -- Grimshaw does it for the British Columbia government. She arranged the Cairo interview by locating a facility run by the American Chamber of Commerce.

Besides Kinko's, your best bet may be a local college. The academic community maintains a large percentage of public videoconferencing facilities; dozens of overseas and US schools rent out rooms that aren't being used for remote learning. Some companies also use these academic connections to interview college graduates at their videoconferencing sites. Texaco, for example, reportedly interviewed 120 MBA students recently at 25 campus and hotel locations around the world.

To find a third-party videoconferencing site, Grimshaw suggested referring to listings of public rooms, such as the International Videoconferencing Directory. (See the Resources section below for a link.) There are also brokers who will do the legwork for you. I found two -- EyeNetwork and Vtcmeetings.com -- in a quick search of the Web.

Web technologies: Changing the picture

The Internet is helping to make video interviews cheaper, easier to distribute, and reusable, which enables radically different options for exposing job candidates to a camera, an interviewer, and a set of good questions.

The first and most obvious choice is to put a $50 camera and Web-based conferencing software on each participant's PC. Long knocked for its small, grainy images and herky-jerky movements, PC video has improved markedly in recent years, and the popularity of media players such as RealPlayer 8 from RealNetworks (Seattle) makes it easy to distribute recorded interviews. Some experts, however, caution that only more expensive, dedicated hardware from vendors such as PictureTel (Andover, Mass.) and Polycom (Milpitas, Calif.) provides a realistic simulation of in-person interviews. The last thing you want to do, they say, is distract already nervous participants with video problems and technical glitches (though in fairness, these are hardly unheard of in $20,000 room-size systems).

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