Friday, June 6, 2014

The way forward for meetings?

In conversation today, instant messaging systems came to mind. More importantly the discussion centered around Microsoft Netmeeting which was software on most pre Windows Vista machines. With the cost of transport and the easy availability of laptops, phones, desktop machines with cameras, the question became a matter of when will physical meetings be replaced by online, on camera meetings?

Experience of multi-user online video meetings is not always wonderful due to communication issues. A few months ago, I had experience of one where connection had to be severed then reinitialized several times before a good connection was obtained. Having said that, for simple things like one to one conversations or discussions, online video meetings are wonderful. I use them most weeks with places as far away as Moscow and Vladivostok.

Imaging a world where strangers didn't have to be invited onto the premises to interview them or a world where a job interview could be carried out from the applicant's own home. Think of the time and money not to mention environmental savings. For those in countries where travel to interview expenses have to be paid by the company this cuts down on costs tremendously. For countries where expenses are not paid, it cuts down on risk - not having to have strangers on the premises. How a potential employee's desk in their home looks could be an indication of their way of thinking. A scruffy, untidy desk could mean total disorganization. This by the way is how my desk at home looks.
A video conference doesn't completely replace a second interview but it surely can replace the first interview. With each candidate given a precise time to call or be called, not just money but time can be saved. This is something that's just beginning to happen with some of the more enlightened companies. Spark Hire is just one of many companies that provides video interview services.

Gas is $3.50 a gallon at the time of writing. Many people are willing to relocate to a different state to find work. There are large pools of untapped talent going to waste because the people who would be willing to relocate aren't willing to gamble the money needed to travel long distances in order to attend an interview. If somebody living in Podunk South Carolina had the skills needed by a company in Michigan yet had no opportunity to use those skills locally and was thus relegated to filling grocery bags in Publix could do a video interview, that could match them to their ideal position and the company could get the talent they needed. Most have the funds to move from one side of the country to the other but are unwilling to risk travelling on the chance that they might get a job out of it. As an example, a flight from Columbia SC to Detroit MI would cost about $400 or the equivalent of 3 weeks working for Publix. That $400 would cover just the flight, not taxis nor parking nor sustenance nor a room for the night. However, that $400 would go a long way toward hiring a truck to drive one's belongings to Detroit in a cross country move to a guaranteed new position.

 It makes a lot of sense for all companies to start using video interviews. Not just that it saves the interviewee money but it enlarges the pool of talent that can be drawn from. It saves the company money and seeing the background of a candidate's home may also influence their suitability for employment. Would you hire somebody who had a Soviet flag on their wall? How about somebody who had a pentagram stencilled on their wall? It's time to start doing video interviews. When are you going to start?

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