The job interview is one of those time-honored traditions that comes with its own set of rituals. Show up substantially early. Look nice. Smell better. And make sure you don't get lost on the way there.
But the way that interviews are conducted is changing. The ubiquity of video chat and messaging software can eliminate the need for the in-person interview. Plus, organizations no longer need to foot the bill for travel arrangements, and prospective employees don't have to sink two days into an interview that might not be the right fit.
The question comes down to how to make the interview happen. Here are some of the better technology choices for such interviews that enable prospective employer and employees to connect with minimal disruption. [Interested in video conferencing services? Check out our best picks.]
Skype is nearly ubiquitous with video chat for companies. Microsoft's communication service is responsible for up to 3 billion minutes of calls per day, according to the company. It's important not just as a fun factoid – a Skype call is as easy as sharing a username. Calls can be joined via a desktop through dedicated apps, a web app or on mobile devices.
You can also get a dedicated Skype number, with the cost being upward of about $6 per month, depending upon the region. While it may sound like a lot to pay for something so simple, it is cheaper than setting up a dedicated landline if you want a separate number for a business. Corporate organizations can also get additional features with Skype for Business, such as an auto-cropping camera that focuses in on the subject automatically.Microsoft's Skype is one of the dominant services in web conferencing. Credit: Microsoft
As a freelancer, this is the service that I've used the most when being invited to conference calls. It doesn't hurt that WebEx has substantial uses across large corporations, so when a company wants to invite someone for an over-the-air interview, this is the service they are likely to go with.Cisco's WebEx works across desktop and mobile platforms for easy-to-create and conduct meetings. Credit: Cisco
The upside is that, for the organization, it's relatively easy to set up a call. Within the WebEx dashboard, you can email an invite, which will provide contact information for the person who is going to interview for the job.
Another popular choice, particularly for its ease of use, is GoToMeeting. Like the other options in this group, it has easy screen sharing tools and simple instructions for those who aren't part of the organization to be able to join the meeting.
The software also enables screen sharing, which allows an interviewee to share proposals, a portfolio or other documents that can bring better context to an interview.GoToMeeting features a straightforward interface and multiple sharing tools. Credit: LogMeIn Inc.
Have your personal tech ready
Outside of these three apps, there are still lots of other options that can be used to facilitate the meeting. Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom and other players all have a team in this league. Often, interview software is a company decision. If you're outside the organization, prepare to be flexible and check out the instructions in advance so you don't end up late to the call because you're troubleshooting.
The upside is these platforms don't require a fancy tech setup to participate. A standard webcam or even a mobile device can suffice in many cases. However, if you want a solid camera that won't set you back too much, check out the Logitech HP Pro C920. It creates video in high definition and can be used for any video conference session or for recording a video.
Also, think a moment about camera placement and other aesthetics that will impact how you'll appear visually. The background matters – few people want to look at a well-used cat tree or garbage can in the background. If it's a job interview, think about appearance the same way you would for an in-person meeting. Those rules you learned in high school about first impressions still matter.
And, it can't hurt to lock the door.