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Hey Recruiters, Video Is Calling

As Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research, so rightly points out in today's No Jitter post, "6 Changes Affecting Video Conferencing Today," individuals just entering the workplace have grown up with the Internet, mobile devices, and visual communications. As a result, he says, companies are finally starting to democratize video conferencing to better meet evolving workforce demands for greater mobility, flexibility, and choice -- "in how and where to work and which tools and devices to use for which tasks."

Among the positive changes are a loosening of restrictions prohibiting off-net IP video calling and the increasing reliance on cloud video services, too, reports Andrew, who also is chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2016, coming March 7-10 to Orlando, Fla. Through surveying video conferencing users, Wainhouse has even found that one-third of video calls now traverse the firewall, allowing employees to meet up with external folks or sites. Job candidates, he says, are among the typical off-net video participants.

That last bit got me circling back to Andrew's point regarding that mobile-savvy evolving workforce for which the Internet is nearly a physical extension of an individual and visual communications a given. And I have to say I don't think companies have gone nearly far enough with this latter opportunity, the video interview. The sampling on which I base that statement is entirely unscientific, but I suspect representative.

If you know of any college seniors or can think back to that time in your life, then you probably know that with the fall comes recruiting season. I've been living through the experience now with my oldest daughter, who has been schlepping back and forth between her downstate Illinois school and downtown Chicago one week after the next for various final rounds, having passed the initial on-campus interviews.

I've been fascinated by the entire process, for two reasons. The first is as a mother with a vested interest in a job candidate's well-being, of course. But more to the point here is the second reason -- I can't imagine why these companies, many being well-known global firms, aren't taking advantage of Web video conferencing or cloud video services to pare down, if not eliminate, the in-person recruitment and onsite interviews. Surely they must use video calling for other purposes. That they don't apply it in this situation is a real head scratcher to me.

Over three years of interviewing for summer internships and post-graduate full-time positions, my daughter has had video calls with just two companies among dozens. The first (last fall) handled the initial video interview over the Web (she doesn't remember which service), while the second conducted the first and each subsequent interview, including a final meeting with top business unit executives, using WebEx. The first was a Midwest-based engineering consulting services firm, and the second a highly diverse East Coast-based Fortune 10 -- so not necessarily the types of companies you'd expect to be on the forefront of video interviewing. I would much more have expected that from the big Internet retailer/infrastructure company that invited her to book a flight west for an interview rather than fire up her Web browser and make a video call.

I'm sure the non-video contingent could rattle off a number of reasons why in-person interviewing is so important. But I can tell you anecdotally that my daughter was not in the least bit disconcerted about the video interviews, and found no shortcomings in them. In fact, she says they gave her a great sense of not only the people involved with the business unit at which she'd be working but the overall company culture as well. And, for saving her the considerable hassle of having to reschedule exams, shuffle work responsibilities, and get to and from campus, she was truly appreciative. Without any prodding from me, she even wondered why more companies weren't going the video route, especially those pursuing college kids for techie-related positions.

In his post, Andrew proposes that enterprises that don't adopt communications plans that embrace video will risk becoming non-competitive. I'll add to that, that the future competitiveness of any company today rests on that evolving workforce, the one that's already all gung-ho about mobility, using the Web, and visual communications. For my daughter's generation, video interviewing is quickly becoming a non-issue. Give or take a few years, I could easily see the in-person, onsite interview being a nonstarter for the next generation of college recruits.

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