Video interviewing is becoming more common as at least part of the interview process, especially when applicants are geographically dispersed. Chances are that at some point in your job hunt you will find yourself in the position of preparing for a video interview. Following are some video interview tips from those who have both participated in, and conducted, video interviews.
Tips for Preparing for a Video Interview
Mike Sudermann is a professional executive recruiter and author, with Ascent Select, who coaches professionals on interviewing. He’s seen a substantial increase in video interviewing, he says. As he coaches job seekers, he offers the following tips for preparing for a video interview:
Also read: 5 Tips to Ace a Video Interview
- Dress for success. “I can tell you stories about candidates who only put on a shirt, tie and coat and sit in boxers, then stand up accidentally to reveal limited clothing,” says Sudermann. Don’t be that person!
- Make sure the light source is in front of you or you will appear completely blacked out.
- Make sure that the pictures or art behind you is appropriate. “I had a candidate a few years ago who conducted a video interview with a picture of a naked lady behind him.” That’s not likely to be the image you wish to convey.
- Attend the video interview as if live, and physically in person—in other words, smile, make eye contact, take notes and come prepared
- Don’t conduct the video interview in your car.
- Be aware of potential background noise—dogs, kids, dishwashers, weed eaters, lawn mowers, phones etc. “Make accommodations with kids and pets and also figure out in advance where you will be located,” Sudermann advises
- Turn off all mobile devices, including audible email reminders on your computer or phone, etc.
- Do a practice run a day prior to the interview to make sure all your devices work and that your lighting and sound quality are good.
- Just like an in-person live interview, wear appropriate jewelry, remove tongue rings, eyebrow rings, etc. Be well groomed and professional looking.
- Have a bottle or glass of water handy.
- Arrive a few minutes early. Do not be late!
Jessica Altounian, the Community Manager at PenPal Schools, a global edtech company, has participated in several video interviews and now helps conduct video interviews with candidates. Altounian also stresses the importance of being on time, but makes another important point for interviewees: don’t sign in early! “Be ready for your call a few minutes ahead of time, but don’t enter the call until the scheduled time,” she advises. Why? “Your interviewer may be in the chat room with another candidate or client, or they may be testing the equipment and aren’t ready to talk.” Once the scheduled time arrives, sign in, and not a minute later, says Altounian. If the interviewer isn’t there yet, wait in the chat window and send a follow-up email or phone call after 5-10 minutes if need be.
Altounian also suggests setting up a spot in your home where will you do your video interviews. Select a place with a neutral background, good lighting and a way to keep your computer’s camera at eye level, she recommends. With video interviewing becoming more common, and with much business conducted online via video, it’s a good idea to be prepared and confident that all will go well.
But, no matter how many times you’ve done an interview in a particular space with particular equipment, leave nothing to chance! Altounian recommends testing your equipment every time.
Finally, give some consideration to the visual connection you will make during your video interview. Eye contact is important, says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “It’s key that anything interviewing through video keeps eye contact,” says Sweeney. “This can often be confusing, especially if you interview via Skype, as you may wonder whether to look at the webcam lens or the screen,” she says.
“The answer is to look at the webcam and to treat the video interview as you would an in-person interview. Maintain eye contact, but keep it loose and relaxed,” Sweeney suggests. “Remember to blink and avoid any nervous gestures like playing with your hair. If you’re a little nervous about how you’ll look, practice with a friend beforehand.” But, while maintaining eye contact is important you should avoid being so intense that your eye contact takes on the appearance of a “death stare.” Try to mimic the way you would connect with someone in a live interview setting.
Practice Makes Perfect
Laura Spawn is CEO of Virtual Vocations, Inc., a telecommute-only online job board. Taking the time to prepare and paying close attention to the details can help you make the most positive impression. Don’t leave anything to chance! For those who may be unfamiliar with video chatting, Spawn suggests arranging “a test interview with a friend to make sure your equipment works and to check the lighting and sound quality of your environment.” In addition, she says, “be mindful of your camera angle, which should frame you from the waist or chest up to avoid an extreme close-up of your face.”
Consider the background of the setting you will be sitting in. “Make sure you declutter your background and eliminate distracting elements,” Spawn suggests. “If you have display shelves within view, remove books, pictures and knickknacks that don’t enhance your professional image.” And, she adds: “Don’t forget about background mirrors as they can capture potentially embarrassing things you don’t want the interviewer to see.”
HireVue is a company that specializes in working with organizations and recruiters to conduct video interviews. They have a number of blog posts with tips for candidates preparing for a video interview. This is definitely one of those situations where “the devil is in the details.” Video interviews may seem like a piece of cake but taking the time to prepare and to carefully consider how you will come across in a video format can help you make a positive impression.