No More Ghoulish Videoconferences

by Veronica Blatt

It’s Halloween this week and let’s face it, we have all sat through some pretty frightening videoconferences. From run-of-the-mill technical difficulties to barking dogs and other interruptions, I think it’s fair to say everyone has had at least one not-so-great experience. While some things will always be outside your control, there *are* things you can do to improve your participation on videoconferences.

Start with the Lighting

Bad lighting is a videoconference killer. You don’t want to look ill, washed-out or have other strange effects, so make sure you spend some time checking out your lighting before you join the call. Natural lighting is best; sit facing a window if you can. If natural lighting is not an option, position a good quality lamp behind your screen – the light source should be in front of you. Avoid fluorescent lighting and overhead lighting, both of which are harsh and can cast unflattering shadows. Never put the light source behind you.

Remember Your Camera Angle

Bad camera angles are also scary. Be sure to check the position of your camera and screen before joining a video call. You want your webcam positioned close to eye level. Other camera angles can make you appear to be towering over the other party or even worse, show an unflattering view up your nose. The angle of your monitor matters too – you don’t want your counterpart to see mostly ceiling and just the top of your head. Aim to have your head and shoulders centered in the camera view. You may need to experiment with raising or lowering your chair or your monitor to achieve the best camera angle.

Check Your Webcam Settings

Your webcam likely includes a basic set of tools to adjust brightness and contrast. Once you establish the lighting you will be using, check the camera settings to see if further adjustments are needed.

Dress for Success

Avoid patterns and wear a bold, solid color near your face. If your clothes are close to the same color as your background, you can end up looking like a disembodied head. Contrast is important for successful videoconferences.

Review at Your Surroundings

Once you have your laptop set up, take a critical look at the area around and behind you. Is there anything visible on-screen that would make a less-than-professional impression? For example, if you’re in a bedroom, is an unmade bed or dirty laundry in the frame? How about personal items or wall hangings that are distracting? Do you have a plant or flowers that appears to be growing out of your head or shoulders? What about a mirror that might be reflecting an odd view? Study the background carefully and move anything that looks awkward or unprofessional.

Watch Where You’re Looking

Making appropriate eye contact can be a bit tricky during videoconferences. During an in-person meeting, it’s normal to break eye contact to write notes, but it can seem very disjointed to do that during a video call. Make sure your note pad and pen are nearby and that you can write without turning away from the screen. DO NOT look at YOURSELF in the split screen view – this takes some practice! Similarly, if you’re looking at the other PERSON on the screen, it may appear to *them* that you are looking down or away. The best place to look is into the camera, but that often feels weird. You may find it helpful to tape some notes to the edge of your monitor, or a picture of the person you are talking to just above and behind the webcam.

Successful videoconferences require practice and a dress rehearsal. Figure out lighting, camera angle, and your surroundings well in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to connect, and have your notes organized and ready to go. You’ll be a video pro in no time!


Tips for a Great Webcam Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Anthony McCormack, founding consultant, managing director and entrepreneur behind Macstaff with offices in Bristol and Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Macstaff is a high impact recruitment consultancy majoring on right-fit permanent placements in construction, property, manufacturing and engineering sectors in UK & Internationally. Macstaff joined NPAworldwide in 2019. Anthony offers tips for a successful webcam interview in the post below, which originally appeared here.

Being interviewed on a webcam or video conference may save you traveling costs but there are still plenty of things that you need to get right to give yourself the very best chance of being successful on the day.

So you have secured an interview, presumably for a company and job role you find attractive.

Then you discover the interview is going to be in a video conference or webcam format. Read the rest of this entry »

Gain a Competitive Advantage with Video

by Veronica Blatt

competitive-advantageToday’s guest blogger is Alison Pruett, Marketing Manager of InterviewStream – the pioneer in online video interviewing. Since 2003, InterviewStream (an NPAworldwide Alliance Partner) has helped companies generate great candidate experiences and remarkable returns through Web-based video screening, interviewing and preparation. InterviewStream provides a best-practice-based approach and a flexible adoption model that works with customers’ unique needs and business goals to achieve breakthrough results. Clients rely on InterviewStream for the perfect combination of proven value and endless possibility.

The world of staffing will always be highly competitive. Staffing firms and RPOs must compete with each other to find the best talent, and talent acquisition professionals must always effectively sell their candidates to hiring managers. Firms, at their most basic level, must fight each other to get as many placements as possible to increase revenue and grow their brand.

Simply put, more placements means more revenue. According to Bullhorn research, “The single most important metric used to by staffing firms to measure their own success in 2013, as ranked by owners, managers, directors, presidents, and executives, was ‘total number of placements.’” Similarly, these higher-ups in staffing agencies generally used total number of placements as the principle metric to rank their salespeople’s effectiveness.

So for both the executives and talent acquisition professionals, finding more efficient ways to handle more incoming applicants and place candidates will always help the bottom line for the company. It also makes the star recruiters look even better to the higher-ups, since number of placements is such a key statistic in the evaluation of the front-end of the company.

Video can help increase the number of placements by allowing staffing firms to handle more candidates and share them to more hiring managers. Recruiters can utilize video to more quickly and effectively screen potential candidates. Our previous InterviewStream blog, Video for Volume Recruiting, details some of the ways recruiters for employers and RPOs can process more incoming applications as well as find more star candidates.

By making the process more efficient, a staffing agency has more time to find more opportunities for a candidate. This increases the chance of making more high-quality placements that fit well for both the employer and employee. Additionally, video allows for a recruiter to more accurately assess and record a candidate’s strengths and weakness as they relate to any particular opening.

While processing more applications and finding more candidates certainly helps recruiters generate a larger pool of talent, the hiring process is only just beginning. Now it’s time to sell the candidates to hiring managers, but video can make this process more effective as well.
Obviously, not every applicant is going to be a good fit for every opening. It’s a given that each employer will have its own unique culture and values that determine a new hire’s compatibility with the company. Someone may have all the requisite skills and education but not fit within the culture, or someone may fit in well but lack the technical skills necessary to succeed in a position. It’s easy to disqualify an applicant during the screening process based on concrete job requirements, but assessing compatibility for the intangibles is more subjective and difficult.

Video can help a staffing agency initially screen an applicant for compatibility with certain opportunities prior to any face-to-face interview. Instead of wasting time with a lengthy phone screen, candidates can complete the interview on their own time and recruiters can view it at their convenience. Without the hassle of schedule compatibility, it’s easier for both parties, and with the added visual aspect of video, recruiters can more accurately identify a candidate’s fit for a particular job posting. The end result is the ability to send a more desirable candidate to the hiring manager and a better chance at a placement.

InterviewStream’s online video interviewing platform allows staffing agencies to send copies of a candidate’s video interview to interested hiring managers. A few clicks generate a unique link that can be emailed to the hiring manager so that he/she can get a more detailed sense of the candidate’s abilities and cultural fit. It makes it quick and easy to share and review candidates.

More importantly, the hiring managers can personally view and identify the candidate’s intangible qualities in an efficient, time-saving manner. Some candidates may be a difficult sell for a position, but a video record that exemplifies their communication skills or personality can make a convincing argument to a hiring manager. The best recruiters can find candidates that may not necessarily fit squarely into a job description but still have the ability and desire to learn and succeed in that position. Video can really help sell this type of candidate to an unconvinced hiring manager who is reluctant to give the candidate a shot at an in-person interview.

Ultimately, an employer will only trust a staffing agency that provides them with quality candidates. By filling positions with candidates who may not precisely fit the description of the original posting but still succeed at the job and grow into a trusted role with the company, talent acquisition professionals can build rapport with their clients and create more placement opportunities in the future.

Staffing firms and RPOs that rely solely on traditional recruiting techniques have to spend more time on each candidate with less concrete options for assessing his/her most important, intangible qualities. It’s a less efficient process that ultimately reduces the ability to reach a high volume of quality candidates and connect them with the best possible opportunities.

However, staffing firms and RPOs that utilize new techniques and technology have the edge in reach, efficiency, and effectiveness. They can gain credibility and build relationships with employers, which helps them create more placements and generate more revenue.

Video Interviews are a beneficial tool to use in your recruitment process

by Veronica Blatt

image of recruiter conducting a video interviewToday’s guest blogger is Anne Downing with Demetrio & Associates, LLC located in greater Phoenix, Arizona. Demetrio & Associates is a boutique recruitment firm that has clients across the US as well as in international locations. The firm places candidates in sales & marketing, advertising, wireless and software positions. Anne is currently serving on NPA’s Board of Directors.

Are you using video interviews to interview your candidates before your submit them to your clients? If not, you should be. Several years ago, most of us started using Skype and other similar video conference tools to communicate with candidates. Today many recruiters are using “video interviews” as part of their recruitment process. Video interviews are very useful for those of us who have client and candidates in numerous locations. We can’t always meet our candidates in person, so video interviews are the next best thing.

There are two types of video interviews: one-way video interviews and two-way video interviews. One-way video interviews allow the candidate to answer the questions which are then viewed by the recruiter and can be viewed by us at any time. Two-way video interviews are a great replacement for in-person interviews. They allow us to see how the candidate reacts to questions and how they will present themselves to our clients and in the long run to our client’s employees and customers. These are recordable and shareable.

Video interviews can be very beneficial for many reasons. By using a set script, all candidates are asked the same questions which makes it nice when we view all of the candidates’ answers. It also allows recruiters to conduct a large number of interviews in a short amount of time. We can view the video interviews and go back to them as often as needed to write the submittal notes to our clients. Recruiters are able to share the video interviews with their clients. This is a real value-added resource that we can provide to our clients. It also helps our companies cut down on their recruitment expenses because it will ultimately reduce the amount of candidates they have to bring in for in-person interviews.

If you haven’t started using video interviews, I would suggest you start. Below is a list of 5 video interview companies. There are many more companies out there and more are on the horizon. Try it…it will save you time, money, and most importantly your clients will really appreciate the extra effort you took during your recruiting process.

Note: This list is in alphabetical order.

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5 Reasons You Should Use Video Interviews

by Veronica Blatt

image of recruiter conducting a video interviewI’ll admit I’ve been skeptical about the use of video interviews. Webcam technology isn’t always reliable and services like Skype have their limitations as well. One thing I hadn’t considered though, is the use of pre-recorded video “interviews” as an alternative to phone screening. I recently listened to a webinar on this topic, and I’ve changed my way of thinking.

Here are 5 reasons every recruiter should be using pre-recorded video interviews:

Save time.  With a pre-recorded option, you’ll record a single outbound video message that is sent to all candidates. Some reports indicate that recruiters can conduct up to ten video interviews in the same time as a single phone screen.

Level the playing field. By using video technology, you’ll ensure that all candidates are asked the same questions, in the same way. Pre-recorded video interviews can make the process much more objective based on how each person answers a question. You’ll have better data based on answers as opposed to instinct or a personal connection with the candidate.

Eliminate scheduling nightmares. Candidates record their answers on their own time and return them to you. No more phone tag, no more scheduling phone screens at night or on the weekend. No more candidates using up sick time or vacation time.

Better collaboration. Video responses can be shared all at once with the entire hiring team. Since everyone has the benefit of the same objective data (the video interviews), you’ll get better feedback from other stakeholders.

Weed out candidates who are “shopping.” Casual candidates who are aren’t seriously looking for a career opportunity won’t respond. This means you won’t waste time talking to those candidates, or worse, present them to your client.

Are you using pre-recorded video interviews in your recruiting firm? Why or why not?

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Recruitment Agencies Can Save Time with Video Interviews

by Dave Nerz

image of recruiter conducting a video interviewEmployers and recruiters alike are using web-based job video interviews to screen candidates for employment or to make hiring decisions. While this is not new, it seems that many recruitment agencies are not keeping up with this trend. There are many great tools out there that help facilitate these interviews ranging from Skype, a generic video chat tool, to InterviewStream or HireVue products made specifically for employers and recruitment agencies.

As with many new technology trends, the use of these tools was at first most prevalent with the high-tech companies and those with large global hiring needs. Global recruiters and recruitment agency networks were also early adopters of the video interview concept. These tools allow hiring managers to view the video interview and create a short-list for fellow managers to offer feedback. The ability for each manager to see the same questions, presented identically and then responded to by each candidate, is a great leveler of the playing field. For the employer, video interviewing can save time and expenses, by reducing travel costs and the time for meetings and interview sessions. For recruiting agencies it can save much monotony and vast quantities of time.

Our global recruiter network has been searching for a new service provider in Australia, so I figured I would give the video interview a go. I used the InterviewStream product for RolePlays and it was quite simple, fairly intuitive and while not a huge time saver for me, it saved much time for the candidates and for those I wanted to engage in my selection process. I did a more typical phone screen followed by just 3 simple questions to each of my four finalists. Their answers were recorded and it allowed me to share these recordings with two Regional Directors that would otherwise just have to go with my best judgment. It also allowed me a second benchmark to follow-up on my initial phone screen. The results were not altered by the video addition, but it did offer me greater confidence in the decisions I had made.

If you are a global recruiter, I really don’t know why you wouldn’t experiment with the use of video. Those annoying 20-minute interruptions from potential candidates on the phone could go like this…”I’m interested in your abilities. I place candidates like you in good jobs frequently and would like to learn more about what makes you unique and able to be placed with my employers. Would you mind taking 10 minutes to provide me some background on you? I will send you a link and you can respond to my video-recorded questions with the specifics appropriate to you. Since the interview allows for you to redo any answer you feel you got started incorrectly, this allows you to put your best foot forward from the start. Once I have reviewed your responses, I can tell you if you are a good fit for my practice.” Positive for you and positive for the candidate. Since candidates will need to have better skills in this area in the years ahead, you are likely helping that candidate prepare for the way the world might work.

Tell me why you wouldn’t use video or what concerns you about the use of video by recruitment agencies?

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /


Starting a Recruiting Agency: 6 Reasons Video Interviewing is Not Used

by Dave Nerz

image of recruiter conducting a video interviewIf you are starting a recruiting agency today, there is something new that needs to be a part of your plan: video interviewing. A recent study cited 80% of employers with more than 10,000 employees have used video interviewing to hire employees or screen candidates. Even small employers are now using video and agency recruiters best be aware of this trend. In the future, employers may ask for video resumes or expect a video screen be done on each candidate. Face-to-face is great, but the time and cost associated with face-to-face is astronomical when compared to the speed and low cost of video.

Here are some excuses I have heard used for not using or considering video as a part of the strategy when starting a recruiting agency:

  1. Not Aware – Some firms just did not consider video as they planned their agency because they were unaware of the trend and the technology.
  2. Don’t See Value – Many agency recruiters don’t see value and believe face-to-face or phone is better to enough.
  3. Concern About Legal Implications – Some starting a recruiting agency are concerned about the eventual legal implications of video interviewing.
  4. Cost – Some agency recruiting firms are of the opinion that video interviewing is expensive.
  5. Unwilling to Change Process – Many have never used video and are unwilling to make a change in process.
  6. Unaware of Savings/Success – The time and cost savings, the speed to screen, and the quality of hire can all improve but many starting a recruiting agency are not yet tuned into the potential.

These are good reasons, but now that you have read about the trends, the savings, the potential effectiveness there really is no good excuse. It is pretty simple and low cost to try. NPA has a partnership with InterviewStream but there are many good providers and even some low-cost options that connect with Skype or iPhone.

Let me know if you have clients using video or refusing to use video. I see this as a game-changer for agency recruiters because you can do a basic phone screen in way less time and it can be shared with your client when necessary. Maybe you see it differently?

Split Fee Placement Agreement


Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /