From the time of adolescence, we have all had the same classic interviewing tips ingrained into our brains: look them in the eye, have a firm handshake, dress appropriately, arrive on time, etc. As a prospective babysitter or paperboy, these tips seemed overwhelming and irrelevant, despite our parent’s insistence. Ironically, in an age where one is more likely to be looking at a webcam and could feasibly be wearing pajama pants, we might have (finally) proven our parents wrong after all.
Phone and (more recently) video interviewing is becoming more and more prominent in the hiring process. And why wouldn’t it? Among other things, virtual interviewing saves time and money, is beneficial to the environment, and allows interviews to be recorded and replayed. For college students like me, virtual interviewing is an integral part of the internship process that allows for an abundance of opportunities which would otherwise be highly unlikely. I have personally reaped the benefits of virtual interviewing. After applying to iCIMS in Hazlet, NJ, I had two phone interviews, saving me the time and money of having to travel home from school in Boston. Next spring, while I am studying abroad, I will use video interviewing to apply to internships for the following summer.
But can interaction via telephone or computer truly give recruiters a clear picture of candidates? And conversely, does a mere phone call or video chat give candidates a fair forum to showcase their abilities? On the one hand, both the interviewer and interviewee definitely cannot get a full sense of the other person through a virtual interview. Observing one’s mannerisms and the way they carry themselves can say a lot about how they interact with others, their level of aggression, and their general demeanor - all important aspects when considering a candidate’s fit within the company. In addition, there is always the possibility of technical problems such as lost connections; disruptions like this can make the conversation awkward and distort the interview’s authenticity.
However, virtual communication skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s society. As a candidate that interviews virtually, one will most likely be expected to communicate with clients virtually. Perhaps, in this situation, the recruiter should be most interested in the candidate that can exude themselves best in a virtual setting.
Some companies are successfully using technology to improve not only the interview process, but the entire hiring and management of employees. Applicant Tracking Systems allow organizations to track candidates’ progress through the entire hiring process. Further, some employee management programs allow automation of the entire employee lifecycle utilizing one centralized platform, as opposed to using multiple, disparate programs. Like virtual interviewing, this saves time, money and the environment!
While technology is making remarkable advances, the debate about virtual interviewing really comes down to balance. In an information age with increasing virtual communication, it is vital to have the knowledge and skills to successfully engage with people in a virtual forum. Nevertheless, solely virtual skills cannot sustain a career. One must still have the ability to effectively communicate with people in person; this means looking them in the eye, having a firm handshake, dressing appropriately, arriving on time, etc. So maybe we should thank our parents for the lecture after all…
Tips for the Virtual Interview Novice:
If you do find yourself intimidated by a virtual interview, don’t worry, it’s easy to make it great! With a phone interview, remember to have your resume on hand; go somewhere quiet and ensure that you have good cell service, or use an available land line. Also, speak clearly and do not interrupt the interviewer. With a video interview, be conscious of the camera. Make sure you read all instructions and questions carefully, dress professionally, and look at the camera. In addition, check that you have good lighting and that your surroundings are not distracting; poor lighting or clutter can take away from you. Finally, remember to smile! No matter what type of interview, a smile always comes through. Good luck!