I had a conversation the other day with a former colleague, who, like many others, lost her job several months ago in the economic downturn. After months of job searching, she found a promising opportunity with a large hospitality company and progressed several levels into the interview process. The initial interviews were conducted face-to-face, and she did well enough continue through to the next several rounds of interviews. When she got to the final stages of the process, the meetings with upper level management, who were based outside of the area, were conducted over the phone. She confessed to me that the phone interviews were awkward, uncomfortable and did not go very well. Ultimately she ended up not getting the job, and attributed a large part of it to her poor performance on the phone.
A job interview, like any business meeting, is a back and forth exchange of questions and answers. Responses are not judged just on what is said, but facial expressions, body language and hand gestures, and it goes a long way in showing how confident a candidate is in their capabilities. How much of that is missed over the phone?
Companies are realizing the shortcomings of conducting phone interviews and are changing the way they hire new talent. Using videoconferencing technology, they are now able to meet face to face, but without costly and inefficient travel. One example of this is One Communications, who is using telepresence to make hiring new employees more efficient and less costly. At TANDBERG, we have implemented a practice of sending out pre-configured video endpoints to job candidates. The interviewee simply plugs the video unit into a broadband connection and meets with each person, face to face. When the interview is done, the unit is returned to the company in a postage paid, protected case. I couldn’t help but wonder if things would have turned out differently for my friend, had she had these same opportunities.