Hiring by Skype? Conducting digital interviews? Video Conferencing is changing the way companies hire.

I recently conducted a series of On-Camera Communication workshops for Masters in Engineering students at Duke University, many of whom are in the process of interviewing for internships or jobs post-graduation. The workshops focused on communicating through a camera using virtual communications tools such as Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts.

The classes filled up quickly and had a significant waiting list.

You might be thinking, “How is this a topic of interest for soon-to-be graduates who have probably spent a fair amount of time in front of webcams or as the focus of a snapchat or two?”

The reality, for most, is that the success of their job searches will more than likely depend upon their ability to communicate well through a camera. Skype (or similar applications) are becoming the norm for first line interviews. Even more daunting are the so-called “digital interviews” which require candidates to record themselves answering a series of questions and submit the recording to the hiring manager.

Perform poorly during that first on-camera interview and there will be NO second interview in person.

The Business Case for Video Interviewing

Finding the right person for a job is challenging enough, and the time and resources required to do so can make the process painful—both for companies and for candidates. Video interviewing allows companies to cast a much wider net for applicants, reaching potential candidates who otherwise may have been eliminated purely based on geography. It’s a hiring managers dream!

Companies also want to recruit the best graduates, and how they equip their employees to communicate and collaborate may be a valuable tool in recruiting talent. Millennials expect to be able to use video conferencing, or at least video chat, and if a company does not offer it in the interview process, the company will likely appear way behind the times.

The reasons for the rise in video interviewing and conferencing are simple—it’s a matter of dollars and sense.

  • Travel Cost Savings—Any hiring manager wants to cast as wide a net as possible for applicants, but often, that can be cost prohibitive. You can only fly so many people in without busting the budget.
  • Vetting Tool—A first round of virtual interviews can screen out the “no thank yous” and narrow down the list of who warrants a face-to-face.
  • Fewer Scheduling Headaches—Trying to coordinate the schedules of both interviewers and interviewees can make anyone reach for the Advil. With video conferencing, all parties only need to block out enough time for the meeting itself, not the travel to and fro. Plus, they can come together virtually, no matter where they are physically.
  • Let’s Go to the Tape—For those who can’t make the interview in real time, there’s the added benefit that most virtual interviews can be recorded and reviewed/re-watched at a more convenient time.

Let’s Get Comfortable . . . but Not Too Comfortable

While the younger generation has a distinct advantage in terms of their level of comfort communicating through the camera, they are at risk of being almost too comfortable. What is appropriate for a casual FaceTime session may not be for a virtual video meeting with a colleague or client.

  • Eating a piece of pizza while Web chatting with a friend? Just fine.
  • Scarfing down leftover Chinese takeout while videoconferencing with the leadership team or a potential employer? Not so much.

The Bottom Line

By shortening the time to interview, companies can minimize the time to hire, allowing them to fill key positions quicker and potentially with better-quality candidates thanks to the deeper pool of applicants no longer limited by geography. Further, according to PGi, a leading provider of collaboration software and services, 66 percent of job candidates prefer to use video during the interview process. Clearly, video interviewing and conferencing is a win-win for employers and for job candidates.

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.