Job interviews sometimes have a bad-first-date quality. Even if it's apparent there isn't a good match from the get-go, interviewers and applicants often feel obligated to go through the motions, exhaust all the questions and smile politely for the allotted time.

Now Reston high-tech recruiting firm Mindbank Consulting Group has developed the equivalent of online dating for companies and job seekers: the e-mailed video job interview.

Let's say five minutes into the interview, it's clear the applicant doesn't have the skills necessary for the project: Well, the hiring officer can just click the keyboard and move on to the next applicant. Or, say, a second opinion might be helpful in making a decision. No need to schedule more time; just forward the e-mail and have a colleague take a look in a spare moment.

Here's how it works: Mindbank solicits interview questions from its clients, mostly Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies looking for consultants to work on specific contracts. Mindbank then digitally records interviews with applicants from its pool of available workers and sends them electronically to potential employers, along with resumes and other information on the workers' technical skills.

So now it's possible for a company to hire a consultant without ever having to conduct an interview in person.

Mindbank has a history of innovation in human resources. In the mid-'80s, Mindbank President Neal S. Grunstra spotted the trend toward hiring outside consultants and created a company designed to meet that need. Mindbank's consultants work project by project for specific periods of time.

Grunstra said his clients have been impressed with the e-mail video interview. "When you consider the amount of time spent interviewing candidates -- some managers claim that 25 percent of their time is spent in interviews -- . . . this can save them a huge amount of time," Grunstra noted in an e-mail. "Further, most of our consultants are accepting a position which is about six months in duration, so the consultant is not as concerned about some of the long-term issues involved in a full-time position."

Raytheon Adds Springfield Firm

Raytheon Co., a defense contractor with a significant campus in the Falls Church section of the county, expanded its local presence last week with the acquisition of UTD Inc., a science and engineering outfit based in Springfield. "UTD is a strategic fit with our core intelligence business. More importantly, the unique skills and offerings of UTD enable us to provide customers with a greater depth of technological expertise and access to some of the industry's most state-of-the-art national security technologies," Michael D. Keebaugh, president of Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, said in a written statement.

Area's Unemployment Drops

Northern Virginia's unemployment rate registered at 2.5 percent in July, according to newly released numbers from the Virginia Employment Commission. That's down from 2.8 percent in June. Fairfax County had 802 initial jobless claims in July, down from 1,123 at this time last year.

The state of Virginia's unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in July, down from 3.8 percent last year.

Fairfax Studio Takes a Demi-Plie

Tiny Dancers in Fairfax City has been voted "Best Dance Studio" by the readers of Washington Families Magazine. The studio, on Main Street, offers aspiring hoofers the basics in ballet, tap and jazz. "We're thrilled that so many of our customers feel as strongly about our program as we do," said Tiny Dancers owner Donna Rathe.

Movers and Shakers

SRA International, a Fairfax-based government contractor, named several new vice presidents last week, some coming from SRA's acquisition of the Touchstone Consulting Group Inc. and Galaxy Scientific Corp. this year. The newly minted vice presidents include Stephen M. Lynott, Thomas A. Summerlin, Elizabeth J. Bartholomew and Christopher J. McGoff. Have news about business in Fairfax County? Send an e-mail to silvermane@washpost.com or call 703-383-5103.