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Webcam job interviews growing in popularity

March 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
With today's economy companies are being forced to cut corners. Flying people in for job interviews is a luxury many can no longer afford. But as Consumer Specialist Ric Romero shows you there is new technology that's allowing job candidates to meet hiring managers face-to-face, without ever leaving their living rooms.

If you're on the hunt for a new job then you know how tough it can be to land a job. Now you need more than your resume and spiffy clothes, you will want to use a webcam.

Liz Markman knew she wanted to move, but she needed a new job first. Going back and forth for job interviews was becoming a real pain.

"I was traveling every single weekend," said Markman. "I was going on interviews and making all these phone calls."

So she was excited when a high-tech PR firm asked her to do something a little different -- an online interview using a webcam. The hiring manager says she loves the cyber connection.

"You're having social cues, you're making eye contact, you're laughing, you're interacting with the person in the same way that you would face to-face," said HR manager Meghan Cavanaugh.

More and more companies are seeing webcam interviews as fast, cost-effective ways to screen potential job candidates. Zappos.com has been conducting webcam interviews for the last year.

"For people that don't have a webcam, we actually will send them out a webcam with a return label so we're not requiring them to go out and buy anything to do it," said Christa Foley.

Merchandising assistant Kristin Colbert was hired at Zappos after her webcam interview.

"I was a little nervous with the technology aspect of using a webcam for the interview," said Colbert.

There are pitfalls to watch for. Jeff Garber is founder and CEO of 360JobInterview.com, a firm that specializes in training people for webcam interviews.

He advises people to practice with a friend, and figure out the best camera position, lighting and background beforehand.

"Make sure that the background is clear and uncluttered," said Garber. "Don't have a messy bookcase in the background or a kitchen that is full of pots and pans."

It is also very important to take care of any potential noise distractions.

"From barking dogs, to children running in and asking their parents if they could have an ice cream," said Garber.

And make sure to dress appropriately.

"There was one case where someone had to stand up in the interview to reach for something off a bookshelf and believe it or not, all they had was boxers on," said Garber.

The most important thing to do is to prepare your answers, just like you would for an in-person interview. That way you're not caught online being unprepared.