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Smile, You're on Camera: Videoconference Interviews

   Article by Carole Martin

There is no handshake. You are alone in a room, even though you are being interviewed by another person or group of people, face-to-face, from thousands of miles away. Once again, technology has taken us to a new dimension, and it's not the twilight zone.

Employers can now see and judge appearance and body language to get a deeper sense of what applicants have to offer before flying them cross-country for interviews. This includes the capability of viewing applicants at multiple sites, in various states and countries, at the same time.

When Craig Sheldon learned he was being considered for the position of business development manager for a Fortune 500 company, he was ecstatic. And then he heard the bad news: He would have to fly to Texas within the week. Sheldon was unable to travel due to work commitments, and since the committee of interviewers had a targeted date to narrow their search, it looked like Sheldon was out of the running. But, thanks to technology, he was offered another option -- an interview by teleconference.

The company set up the process and managed the details. All Sheldon had to do was drive to a Kinkos location in Bloomington, Minnesota, some 30 miles away. Within minutes of his arrival, he was being interviewed by people in New York City and Japan. Sheldon was groomed and prepared and aced the interview. He was now among the three finalists. They were ready to accommodate his schedule and fly him to Texas.

Preparation played a major role in Sheldon's success. The hiring company had briefed him before the session, giving him some pointers:

There are some disadvantages to interviewing via videoconference. For one, there is a lag as the data is compressed and sent from one location to another. This means there is a silence while you sit and wait for a response from the other end. Sheldon found this worked to his advantage, because he could actually watch the interviewers while his answers were received. The trick, which will become obvious, is not to step on the other person's words. Allow for the delay.

Videoconferencing is not a substitute for a face-to-face interview, and a personal meeting would always be the first preference. But the advantages sometimes outweigh the disadvantages. This technology saves time, money and allows several locations to connect at once, in spite of major time differences.

This type of interviewing is gaining in popularity as technology improves. It will only be a matter of time before you sit in your own home or office and interview around the world. The future of interviewing is here. Be prepared.

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