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As video interviewing grows, tips to get ready for your close-up

Get ready for your close-up.

Companies from small local businesses to large multinationals are increasingly turning to live video interviewing to screen job prospects. The number of employers using video interviews in the hiring process has more than doubled over the past year or so, to 21 percent of businesses from 10 percent in 2012, according to the Aberdeen Group, a Boston market research firm.

Madeline Laurano, Aberdeen’s research director of human resources, said remote video interviews have become attractive to employers and recruiters because they save time and money, while reaching larger pools of applicants.

“There’s more awareness of what video conferencing can do and why it improves efficiency and identifies that right fit for the organization,’’ Laurano says. “This is not just a passing trend. We’re going to see this as part of every recruitment going forward.’’

Some employers use Internet video conferencing services such as Skype, while others deploy software such as HireVue. So if you don’t want to flunk your screen test, career counselors and job recruiters have a few tips:

Look your best. Wear a professional suit or outfit. Even though you are doing the interview from your home computer, it’s important to look like you showed up for a face-to-face meeting, says Jill Chanin, vice president at the Boston office of national staffing firm Kelly Services Inc.

“You might think because you’re on camera, you only have to wear a professional top and not bottom,’’ said Chanin. “But our recommendation is if you dress professionally, you’ll make the best presentation on the whole.’’

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Preparation is key. As with any interview, do your homework on the prospective employer and the position you are seeking. But you also need to be comfortable with the quirks of video technology. Make sure your Internet connection is reliable, and do a trial run with a friend, relative, or recruiter to test equipment and get comfortable conveying your message through a video camera.

Also, have a phone handy to finish the interview in case something unexpectedly goes wrong — and keep calm. “If you panic,’’ Chanin said, “that is a representation of how you handle stress.’’

Video etiquette counts. You may not be able to shake hands with your interviewer, but you can start with a warm greeting, said Stephen Kasmouski, president of the search division at WinterWyman, a Waltham recruiter.

Be aware of your surroundings. In the summer, close windows to block loud noises. At home, steer clear of messy rooms and choose one with a plain wall. Kasmouski recalls hearing of a well-qualified candidate who lost out on a job because the interviewer couldn’t get past the image of Halloween masks mounted on a wall.

“You have to be cognizant of where you are,’’ Kasmouski said. “You want to be in a place without distractions, in a professional setting.’’

Be sure. Video interviews make it hard to closely read facial expressions and body language, Kasmouski says. He tells job hunters to eliminate uncertainty by finishing answers with “tie downs,’’ such as “Does that make sense?’’ and “Do you want me to elaborate?’’

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Be professional. College students are more familiar and comfortable with video chatting, but that presents its own risks, said Maria Stein, associate vice president for cooperative education at Northeastern University. In video interviews, they have to ditch the casual attitude they might take with friends and behave professionally.

“They have to answer questions in complete sentences, watch their ‘ums, ‘ahs,’ and ‘likes,’ ’’ Stein said. “Minimize hand gestures. Keep your hands in your lap. Sit at a desk.’’

This is also good advice for older job candidates, Stein added.

Stay focused. When interviewing, the only device and software that should be running on the computer are the video camera and conferencing software. Don’t send instant messages, check e-mail, or surf the Web.

“We’re used to jumping back and forth on our computers multitasking, and you have to focus on the interview,’’ Stein says. “This is not the time to multitask.’’

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