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!