Phone interviews are the worst: Embracing the video interview

Re-post article by Chelsia Johnson in Best Practices, Cloud, Lifesize, People, Trends.

As someone who graduated in the midst of the recession, when employers had an infinite number of educated and eager candidates to choose from, I was subjected to countless interviews of all different styles—in an office, at a coffee shop, group interviews, even a scavenger hunt (that’s a whole other blog post). But the most common interviews I encountered were either by phone or video conferencing. And while phone interviews might seem like the less stressful kind, nonverbal communication goes a long way in a video interview, especially in the early stages of the hiring process.

Nonverbal communication is the combination of all the things you say when you’re not actually speaking words. Things like your gestures, facial expressions, posture and tone of voice often say more than an entire paragraph of sentences. The nonverbal cues you pick up on in a video conferencing interview versus a phone interview can mean the difference between a job offer and another Friday night spent sending out resumes.

I can remember several phone interviews in which the recruiter or hiring manager would ask a question, I would eloquently answer with a complete and succinct thought, there would be a longer-than-comfortable pause and then I’d start rambling. I totally voided the carefully crafted response I had just delivered all because I wasn’t sure if the interviewee was expecting more, taking notes or had been bored into a coma by my response.

When interviewing over video, you easily alleviate miscommunications like that. Here are the top reasons nonverbal communication in a video interview trumps phone interviews and some tips for making a great impression over video:

1) Being on the phone gives you a sort of anonymity that can lead to distraction. From checking your email to removing all the gum wrappers from the bottom of your purse, a distracted interview on either side of the table is not beneficial. When you can make eye contact with someone, it’s much easier to capture and keep their attention to show them how qualified you are for the position.

2) Smiling! People don’t want to work with a jerk. So while you may have the best strategy proposition and three years more experience than other applicants, it can be very challenging to convey happiness over the phone without an excessive use of inflection, which in turn makes you sound like a Care Bear. Facial expressions allow you to express interest and understanding of the material being presented in a genuine way that doesn’t come across as overkill.

3) Confidence is key. So maybe you exaggerated a little on the resume that landed you the interview, but you know you’re capable and you can let this interviewer know with your impressive posture. Good posture conveys confidence, so when you’re sitting up straight during that video call, it’s that much easier to show your future employer how poised and proficient you are.

4) You control your environment! No awkward waiting rooms, no fluorescent conference room lighting—with video conferencing, candidates can meet face to face with hiring managers for the first time in a comfort zone. Plus, you can emphasize key traits of your personality that may otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, want to showcase your organizational skills? Set your video call up so your color-coded bookshelf is your backdrop. Did a quick Google search and discovered that you and your possible boss-to-be share a mutual hobby? Prop that guitar up behind you. I’m not saying that you should hang up pennants and stage the background of the call with memorabilia of his or her favorite sports team, but subtle staging can’t hurt!

Video interviews can dramatically enhance the job search from both sides of the table. A solution like Lifesize Cloud provides simple and intuitive operation, a flawless guest experience and lifelike video quality that makes it feel like you’re meeting face to face. When it comes to the video conferencing job interview, embrace the nonverbal communication. You’ll be more engaging, enlightening and personal than you would be by phone—plus, it gives you another reason to bust out that blazer you got just for interviews. Happy job hunting!

How Top Companies Use Video Conferencing

Re-post from www.smartdatacollective.com

Video conferencing software, which provides many more features than just video chat, is a relatively new innovation. Video conferencing in its current form has only been around for a few years, but it has already become an extremely popular workplace tool. In fact, over 85 percent of workers in North America use video conferencing, and the vast majority of those working adults use it daily or weekly. This is largely because of the simplicity, convenience and accessibility of video conferencing software, which are possible thanks to the fully-featured suite of mobile apps available from almost all developers. The many users of video conferencing are not limited to one sector of the business world, either; all types of businesses have found cost-efficient and time-saving ways to incorporate it into their work. The following list details some of the most noteworthy and distinct jobs for which top companies use video conferencing.

  • Business Meetings: This is the most obvious corporate use of video conferencing. According to a survey issued by Polycom, 90 percent of video conferencing users experience higher rates of productivity, teamwork, and cost savings because of it, and its use as an easy way to conduct in-depth collaboration is a large part of the reason for that. The many uses of video conferencing software as a general business collaboration tool for top companies include:
    • Allowing people far from each other to “get together” at short notice.
    • Reducing travel costs.
    • Providing a medium for quickly and efficiently conducting interviews.
    • Providing the ability to record and relive meetings.
    • Providing meeting participants with a deeper understanding of the content than other remote collaboration media (90 percent of communication is non-verbal).
    • Telemedicine: Upscale medical offices are some of the businesses that have very recently started using video conferencing to communicate with customers more often. Many people in need of medical assistance are physically unable to visit the hospital or doctor’s office themselves. In the past, medical practitioners would charge greatly inflated fees and take time out of their busy schedules to make a physical house call to see the person. As web cameras become more common and more portable, however, patients and doctors can communicate without having to leave their respective buildings by having a high definition video conference with video conferencing. In addition, the long-distance capabilities of various video conferencing platforms make it possible for someone to meet with a specialist a great distance away, even if the two cannot meet in person.
    • Telecommuting: More than one in five Americans work from home at least some of the time, and studies show that they are 13.5 percent more productive. With the rapidly increasing use of this great new technology, that number is sure to get higher as time goes on. This is because video conferencing allows employees to connect with their peers and workplace superiors in a very real way. In fact, because of the huge array of communication aids high-quality provided, receiving and delivering work is easier than ever. Setting up an extremely effective video conferencing station in a home office can be done for a minimal cost, and it is being done more and more by top companies in order to cut land capital costs and raise employee happiness.
    • Education: Employee training and educational seminars can easily be transmitted remotely via video conferencing. The interactive features offered by video conferencing software, such as polling and testing make the experience more customizable to those being taught, and they also contribute to making the experience more engaging. Experts on whatever subject a company wants to offer instruction in can give that instruction without having to travel out of their houses, and employee interest will surely be higher if they are allowed to learn from their home offices rather than being crammed into a stuffy lecture hall.
    • Legal Environment: Many courtrooms and prestigious legal offices use video conferencing in order to connect with witnesses or prisoners who are unwilling or unable to physically appear to testify or be questioned. Thanks to the incredibly immersive measures taken by high-quality video conferencing, the person will feel like he or she is actually there. Having a witness/prisoner transmit themselves digitally is often even more convenient than having them appear in person, in fact, because their likeness can be broadcast in multiple locations at once. Although technologically savvy courtrooms are the places who most often utilize video conferencing for this purpose, it can be of use to any company that needs to call upon the testimony of someone who cannot or does not want to appear in physical form.

Quality video conferencing services are creating extremely useful business tools that can be used in many new and exciting ways. Any business can use this technology to take advantage of the same boost in cohesion, productivity and progress as the top companies.

Six Ways Recording and Sharing Will Change the Way You Work

Re-post article by Julian Fields in Amplify, Cloud, Features, Lifesize, Products.

Video recording and sharing are some of the most innovative tools in the video conferencing industry. Seeing someone face to face far exceeds the effect of an audio conference or email, but being able to record that video call for later viewing or sharing with teams inside or outside of your organization takes this technology to new heights.

Today, you can effortlessly create on-demand videos that are easily accessible from any location, on any device. In this guide, we will take a look at some of the ways that HD video recording and sharing will forever change the way you work, including:

  • Recruiting and training the best of the best
  • Capturing and sharing tribal knowledge
  • Overcoming time zone constraints
  • Enabling BYOD and on-demand information
  • Capturing brilliance at its peak
  • Utilizing recording for more than just meetings

Download your free copy today and when you’re ready to give recording it a try, download a trial of Lifesize Cloud. You’ll have 14 days to try out all the features, including recording and sharing.

Blog_6-Ways-Recording-Will-Change-the-Way-You-Work_484x252

Check out the Lifesize Cloud Amplify product page for more information, including how-to videos for recording and sharing your recorded content.

How to Get Better Quality Out of Your Video Chats

Re-Post from www.lifehacker.com

So you’re all excited to hop on a video chat with grandma, but the quality is less than desirable. The video is choppy, the audio echoes and cuts out, and you can barely see the person on the other end. Before you flip that table, here are a few things you can tweak to make sure you’re getting the best quality possible.

Blast from the past is a weekly feature at Lifehacker in which we revive old, but still relevant, posts for your reading and hacking pleasure. Today, we’re HD-ifying our Skype sessions.

While it isn’t realistic to expect the same level of quality Skype shows off in their commercials, you can probably make your chats look better, sound better, and generally run more smoothly with a few simple tweaks at home. Note that for some of these, we’ll be using Skype as an example, since it’s the most popular video calling application. However, you can apply almost all of these tips to any video chat program. We’ll note where the tip is Skype-specific.

Note also that these tips go for both parties—in many caes, your video chat partner will have to implement these too if you want to see better video.

Simple Fixes

Make sure Skype is updated to the latest version. They improve the quality of video chats with each new version, so if you’re still running a copy from two years ago, you’re probably going to get the same crappy quality you had two years ago. This also goes for iChat and any other video chat programs. Web-based apps like Google Chat and Facebook Chat should stay up to date, though you might want to check and see if they have any updates or add-ons that improve the quality.

How to Get Better Quality Out of Your Video Chats

Wear headphones. If anyone is hearing echoes in the audio, it’s because the other party’s speakers are too loud. Wear headphones and this problem disappears instantly. Any headphones are fine; earbuds are nice since they don’t distract from your face. Note that this depends on a bit of communication between you and your friend: if you hear an echo, they need to wear headphones, but if they hear an echo, you need to wear headphones. Photo by Dan McKay.

Adjust your light. Again, this is a small tweak that can make a world of difference. Make sure you have a lamp or other light behind your monitor, pointing toward you, and that you don’t have too much light behind you. If you’re on a laptop, make sure the camera is at eye level and not pointing up at the ceiling lights, or down at the floor. Better lighting can mean the difference between talking to a real person and talking to a grainy silhouette.

Make sure your background is stationary. If you’re in a bustling coffee shop, or you have your family watching TV behind you, move somewhere else. The more motion is in your shot, the more work Skype will have to do and the choppier your video will get.

How to Get Better Quality Out of Your Video Chats

Don’t overload your internet with other tasks. If you’re downloading files, watching YouTube videos, or playing video games (or if someone else in your house is doing any of these things), that’s less bandwidth Skype gets for itself. Close any unnecessary programs, specifically those that are using your internet, and you might find that the call quality increases dramatically.

If you can, use wired Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is okay, but you’re much more likely to get lag and interference, which can make your video and audio choppy. Wired internet will give you a much smoother, more consistent experience.

More Advanced Fixes

How to Get Better Quality Out of Your Video Chats

Adjust your webcam’s video settings. Most webcams will let you tweak the brightness, contrast, microphone volume, and other things within their settings. If you’re using Skype, you can get to them quickly through Tools > Options > Video Settings. Drag the video settings window so its next to Skype’s Options window, so you can see your video preview. Adjust any brightness, exposure, color, while balance, and other sliders until your video looks better. This could take a bit of playing around, and it won’t help as much as, say, better lighting will, but if you’re short on real-world fixes this can help a bit.

Set up Quality of Service on your Router, if you have it. We’ve talked about setting up Quality of Service (QoS) before, so I won’t go too deeply into it here, but this should have the same effect as shutting down BitTorrent, online video games, and other programs that hog your bandwidth. Essentially, it ensures that when you’re video chatting, it takes bandwidth away from other applications and gives it to you. Again, it’s the same as shutting down those programs yourself, only with QoS your router will do it automatically. Note that not all routers have this setting, but if you don’t, you might still be able to use it by installing DD-WRT on your router.

How to Get Better Quality Out of Your Video Chats

Increase Skype’s frames per second. This is a Skype-only workaround, and it’s a little “hacky”, but it can help if you’re experiencing really choppy video. Quit Skype if its open, and open up Windows Explorer. Type %appdata% into the address bar, and then navigate to Skype > [your Skype username] and open up config.xml in your favorite text editor. Find the line that starts with <Device>, and create a new line under it. On this line, type <Fps>25</Fps>, then save the file and quit. When you open up Skype, you should notice that your video is much smoother, though it will likely be blurrier. It isn’t a perfect fix, but if you’d rather have smooth video than high-resolution video, it’s a little hack that can help.

These tips should help get you started, and while buying a new webcam or subscribing to faster internet might help, you’ll want to try these easy, low-cost methods before going more extreme.

Title image remixed from an original by Hypno_Bedhead.

Nail Your Mobile Video Conference

Cross-platforming, in terms of technology, refers to any time software or hardware is compatible with multiple platforms. It has become a standard of some of the most depended on software on the market today, promising access whether a customer is using a PC, a Mac or a mobile phone. There are obvious advantages to software providers choosing to make their applications cross-platform compatible; the more people that have access to and can use an application on their existing system, the more likely they are to invest in it.
Communication applications have bridged the gap between office powerhouse PCs and portable mobile phones in recent years, offering options to work while you’re on the go, whether that’s sending email, editing a proposal or attending an important meeting.

But as with all new technology, mobile operations come with suggested best practices and etiquette to ensure you’re respectful of others that you’re likely collaborating with and getting the most out of the technology at your fingertips or in the palm of your hand. Like any other cross-platform application, Blue Jeans mobile video conferencing comes with a set of considerations that you should keep in mind before logging in. We’ll go over a few of the practices that Blue Jeans suggests will keep you looking professional and making a good impression.

Perfect Your Practice

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror or commandeered a friend or coworker’s time to practice before you made a big presentation or pitched an idea before your department heads? Practicing helps smooth out all the kinks and lets you appear that much more calm, collected and in control when you go in front of the VIPs, regardless of the purpose.

Practicing before you log in to a video conference has the same end result and general purpose but the results are more varied than how you’ll look in front of your captive audience. Before you log on a mobile conference, you should practice using the application that’s going to connect you and you should check all settings, your reception (on location if possible), volume and video transmission. Nothing looks less professional than struggling with your technology when you should already be connected to your meeting and presenting your work.

Ensure that your phone can handle the application with a live test if possible and make sure to take into consideration issues like your battery life and whether you’ll have a quiet location to conduct your portion of business from. When you practice, you can work out all the logistics so that when the time comes for the actual meeting, you don’t have to worry about those things anymore.

Look the Part

Being able to log into a video conference from anywhere means that there will always be someone that thinks it’s alright to do in less than their best dress. When you’re participating in a mobile video conference, you should treat it the same way you would if you were attending a conference in person. Dressing to the code of conduct for your office, ensuring you’re neat and presentable and being in an environment that’s free of clutter, personal effects or other people are important details to manage.

Another thing to consider is how the video will handle the outfit you’ve selected. Best practice when attending any sort of video conference is to be wary of black, white and red colors dominating your outfit; that’s because these can come across hard, glaring or lacking in contrast on video. Likewise, stripes can sometimes create a strobe affect to someone watching you through video and are a good idea to stay away from.
Other tips include focusing light on your face, avoiding back light and using a cradle to hold your mobile phone so the video feed doesn’t weave and bob, making it difficult to focus on your face. Always sit up straight and smile to portray a sense of engagement, which can sometimes be forgotten or feel lacking during a video conference.

Multitask with Care

One beautiful thing about video conferencing, regardless of where you utilize it, is the ability to attend a meeting and still get other work down at the same time. Especially when connecting via a mobile device, you can literally take your meeting with you if you need to run an errand or go to the mailbox.

Just because you can do these sorts of things while attending a mobile conference, however, doesn’t always mean you should. Your level of attention is keenly obvious to other participants and indicators like the click of the mouse, the rhythm of typing or just where your eyes are focused can be frustrating, annoying or seem downright rude to others.

To ensure you create the best impression of yourself during your time in the conference, make sure you minimize multitasking and try to focus only on things that are important to the topic at hand. If you need to send off a quick email to someone with a question or request about your meeting topic, you have that ability, but sending Instant Messages to a friend or coworker, browsing the web or drumming a beat on your desk are unadvised.

Look at the camera when you are speaking as this will transmit to other participants as eye contact. When you’re not speaking anymore and to clearly indicate you’re done with your turn, lower or move your eyes to the screen so you can look at the other participants. These specific focuses will convey your attentiveness and save you from looking vacant or bored while others are speaking.

In Conclusion

This may seem like a great deal of things to take into consideration before participating in a mobile video conference but in truth, many of these suggestions are ones you already practice in person. Tailoring your attention and reactions to your new, virtual audience ensures you put your best foot forward.

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