One of my readers referred me to an article in Time Magazine entitled How Skype is Changing the Job Interview with this comment:
“Saw this and got freaked out. What are your thoughts on this practice?“
I have to give a special thanks to this reader for bringing this to my attention – even though he may not be so thrilled that I am totally behind this.
The title gives it away: the article is all about how Skype is seeing a lot more action in the interviewing process for organizations. After all, it’s free to use (so long as both parties have it) and it simulates an actual face-to-face meeting. Seems like a logical step, right?
Video conferencing is becoming more and more prevalent in businesses for internal communication, especially now with companies seeking to reduce their overhead costs. High-profile, mega-companies like Deloitte have gone to great lengths to get video conferencing in place in its offices. I read an article from the New York Times last year that talks about how much video conferencing has come to replace airplane travel – again, in an effort to cut costs.
So why should interviewing be any different? Let’s be practical here. A company can’t afford to fly you out somewhere. You’re suffering from the recession economy just like everyone else is. If you’re a recent college grad, like several of the people in the article, you have no money and no savings. Since the company won’t bring you to them and you can’t get yourself there, your choices are:
- Correspond by e-mail.
- Talk to HR/a hiring manager by phone.
- Employ video conferencing, which, despite its imperfections, will actually give the people you’re speaking to an opportunity to see you in action and will allow you to use gestures, facial expressions and body language to assist you as you speak and listen.
Yeah, like that’s a tough choice. I’ll take #3.
Consider the work of Albert Mehrabian who identified the three elements of communication: word, tone of voice and body language. He posited that if a person is communicating with us, our opinion of them (i.e. whether we like them or not) is based on these three elements in a set ratio: 7% based on the actual words, 38% based on tone of voice and 55% based on body language.
Now, keep in mind that this theory (which has seen wide distribution and is frequently misrepresented) is only meant to be applied when people are talking about their feelings or attitudes (since that’s what Mehrabian’s research was about). Still, while the numbers may change, the message is clear: the actual words don’t account for NEARLY as much as the nonverbal cues that are sent out. Since it’s hard to really get a feel for someone based on their words alone (e-mail) or just their words and tone of voice (phone), that really means that you want as much face time as possible.
So download Skype and start practicing how to interview over a video connection. Welcome to the future.
And P.S. – 10 points to anyone who caught the Meet the Robsinons reference in the title.