Cheap, easy 2-person video-conferencing for dummies. Please.
April 18, 2014 10:56 AM   Subscribe

My friend is in the midst of a job search, and a prospective employer wishes to interview him via video-conference. He is told that it must be "IP based" and not Skype, and they must be able to call him.

(Asking for a friend, and both of us are completely ignorant about this topic to the point where I will probably use all the wrong words. Apologies in advance)

My friend is in the midst of a job search, and a prospective employer wishes to interview him via video-conference. He is told that it must be "IP based" and not Skype, and they must be able to call him.

My friend has an old computer, spotty internet, and no webcam, although he does have some friends with webcams. He can't use the facilities at his current job.
I have the feeling that, in this modern world, where people seem to video chat all the time, this must be simple. But I know absolutely nothing about it. Is there some cheap or free software he (or the friend whose computer he will be using) can easily download? Does iChat, which is already on my Mac, count? Is it secure?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. My friend will attempt to get further information from the prospective employer on Monday regarding what they want, but, as time will be short and we start from a position of absolute ignorance, I thought I would try to get some sense of the possibilities ahead of time.
posted by Dolukhanova to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Use a Google Hangout?
posted by xingcat at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2014

IP-based but not Skype? And they want to be able to call him? Maybe it's just me, but I think the best bet is to ask the potential employer what they recommend, because it sounds like they have a rather particular setup in mind. It's possible that Google Hangouts, or iChat or any number of things would be acceptable to them, but it's also possible that they are thinking that you should be using some esoteric SIP-based setup or something (in which case I'd expect them to provide you with the necessary software and assistance in setting it up). It's in your friend's best interest to be on their wavelength here.
posted by Aleyn at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yahoo Messenger would support this sort of thing, but the employer would also have to have a Yahoo Messenger account.

I think it would behoove your friend to inquire with the employer as to their preferred video chat.

(On a side note: I don't know why an employer would exclude Skype, unless they have some irrational hatred of Microsoft).
posted by DWRoelands at 11:11 AM on April 18, 2014

My old favorite, Go To Meeting has added a free GTM option (instead of futzing around with a fake trial that a lot of people do) that includes up to three video-conference participants.

Chrome only at this time.
posted by tilde at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2014

The internet is IP based, which isn't useful in narrowing down acceptable solutions.

The only thing I can think of is that they want to connect directly to an IP address instead of needing user accounts with a chat service (Skype, yahoo, etc)
posted by TheAdamist at 11:28 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

To clarify what the perspective employer wants might be helpful, but I think what they want when they say "IP based" is to be able to connect directly to video conferencing hardware via an IP address. I've done this before (with, e.g., Polycom), but only in a professional environment where there was a video conferencing room with a big ol' camera and screen. There doesn't seem to be a cheap and easy way to do this with standard consumer hardware (see these threads), but hopefully others will chime in here with ideas. Maybe look at renting a conference room that already has the hardware?
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

On a Mac you'd generally use FaceTime, which can work with another Mac, iPhone or iPad (2 or higher) at the other end. All Mac laptops that are not ancient have a camera built-in.
posted by w0mbat at 11:47 AM on April 18, 2014

IP stands for Internet Protocol, so I'm baffled about what this guy is asking for. The only options for video conferencing are ISDN or an internet connection of some sort. He may want the numeric IP address of the equipment (hense it's on the internet), but then, he's asking for a phone number. His instructions don't make sense.

Skype is the appropriate mode for this type of call. Regular people don't have commercial video conferencing equipment.

I'd call the guy back and ask for a clarification.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:52 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ya Betelgeuse has it. They mean a pro video conf system not what PC based software besides Skype can we use. I'll n-th contacting them for a more explicit recommendation.
posted by chasles at 11:53 AM on April 18, 2014

Unless this is some kind of shibboleth trick question, just ask them what they want to use.
posted by odinsdream at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2014

I figure they have software they use all the time for webinars and conference calls. Best bet is to ask them what they want to use and how your friend will connect in. I have used GoToMeeting a lot...the person initiating the call sends the other person a link that becomes active at the assigned time. Friend would possibly need to download something to make it work but that usually happens automatically when you click the link.
posted by MultiFaceted at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

And to put a button on it, it'd be a little ridiculous to expect some interviewee to have a pro-style videoconference setup.
posted by rhizome at 1:28 PM on April 18, 2014

Sometimes Kinkos has this type of Polycom video conferencing.
posted by k8t at 7:14 PM on April 18, 2014

When they say IP-based, I'm guessing they mean something using the H.323 standard, where you can type in an IP address and it will dial directly. This is setting up for a world of pain with firewalls, etc. if you can't get access to a professional video conferencing room.

However, there are some free options for H.323 conferencing you can try. Ekiga will do this for free on a Windows or Linux computer, and I'm told that XMeeting will work on a Mac, though I have never tried the latter.

Good luck!
posted by wondercow at 7:40 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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