Any recruiter will tell you that scheduling face-to-face interviews are one of the most stressful parts of their job. Coordinating schedules, making sure that everyone is where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there is enough to make anyone a little crazy. When you add in the fact that setting up a time for a face-to-face interview often results in prolonging the interview process, it becomes clear that the traditional, face-to-face interview may not be the best way to hire people.
It’s no wonder that companies have been quick to embrace video interviewing. Video interviewing can significantly decrease the cost and time it takes to fill openings which is good for employers and job candidates alike. However, since this is a big change for candidates, it’s not always easy to know what kind of mistakes to avoid.
Fortunately, with a little pre-planning, you can not only avoid common mistakes with video interviewing, but you can also really stand out from the crowd.
The first step to a stand out video interview is to make sure that you’re ready. This means making sure your technology is ready to go on the day of the interview. Things like a less-than-great camera or a microphone that isn’t clear probably won’t prevent you from getting the job, but they may make an impression that you don’t want to convey. When it comes to a video job interview the way you look and sound is an important part of your overall presentation.
Have the proper equipment
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be sure to use a good camera for your interview. The camera that likely came with your computer may be fine for chatting casually with family and friends but may leave you looking washed out and inattentive to details in a job interview. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a professional camera but the difference even a slight upgrade can make in your presentation is well worth the investment.
Consider using a headset with a microphone. The headset will help eliminate the echoes that often come with video interviews and the microphone will make your answers easier to hear. Nothing is more frustrating than having to ask someone to repeat themselves multiple times, especially in an interview.
The day before your video job interview, be sure to double-check that your technology is in good working order. Your power and internet connections need to be solid to make sure your interview isn’t disrupted. Make sure everything is firmly plugged in and in good working order before you sit down for the interview.
If any part of your equipment is new, make sure you understand how it works, and then try it out well in advance of the interview. Do a video conference with a friend to double-check how you sound and how you look. And make sure you can clearly see and hear your friend.
Have a professional username
Many employers use platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime for video interviews. Odds are, you’ve used these for casual chatting, so double-check your username and picture on these platforms. Make sure that your username looks professional and isn’t an unnecessary distraction. If you can, check yourself a few days before the interview in case you need to set up a new username.
Normally, you don’t have much input into your interview space. You may find yourself in an uncomfortable chair or in an office that’s too cold or too warm, greatly contributing to the usual stress that comes with a job interview. The beauty of the video interview is that you can control everything. The challenge, of course, is making sure that you do control everything.
Your pets and your children may be adorable, but they have no place in an interview. Be sure your pets are safe and secured in a closed room where they won’t hurt anything and where they won’t be able to interrupt your interview by making a lot of noise or making you worry about what’s going on.
If your children are young, have a family member or a babysitter watch them during your interview. If your children are older, make sure they understand how important it is they don’t disturb you or make a lot of noise.
Switch electronic devices to silent
Just as in any other professional situation, you want to make sure your phone is set to silent before a video interview. Since you are likely participating from home, make sure other electronic devices, such as Alexa, Google Home or any other electronic assistants are also set to silent.
Make sure your background is neat and tidy
Your interviewer will be able to see whatever is around you during the interview. Make sure there isn’t anything in your background that you wouldn’t want on your desk at work. So, no old coffee cups, no laundry waiting to be put away, and no trash.
It’s not necessarily a good idea to conduct your interview in front of a bookcase. People are naturally a bit nosy, and you don’t want to give the interviewer anything to focus on other than what a great fit you would be for this job. If you don’t have a choice about location, make sure that there aren’t any embarrassing titles visible. We all like to read the occasional trashy novel, but in an interview, you should put your best foot forward.
If you have a mirror or other reflective surface behind you during an interview, glare can easily become an issue. Be sure to move the item from your camera’s field of vision.
When your interviewing, it’s important that you feel as comfortable as you can. Place your chair in front of the camera and set it up the way you want. Use a pillow behind your back if you need one to help you sit up straighter longer. Put something under your feet if that will make you feel more comfortable, and feel free to put a blanket over your legs if you feel cold. Just make sure that you don’t use a fan, a heater, or anything else that might make noise during the job interview.
Check your lighting
Lighting is an important part of any video presentation, yet it’s one of the details that candidates are most likely to not address. Having good lighting is a great way to have a stand out video interview.
To make sure your lighting is good, set up two bright lamps on either side of your interview space, out of sight of the camera. Then, put a white sheet of paper over each light. The paper will diffuse the light to minimize any glare and using two lamps will help keep any shadows away.
When you’re setting up your camera, get it as close to eye-level as you can when you’re sitting in your interview chair. It’s important to look into the camera during the interview, and it will be easier to do if you’re comfortable. Make whatever adjustments you need to before the day of the interview so you will have one less thing to worry about.
A video job interview is just like any other interview. It may feel less formal because you’re at home, but your potential employer takes it very seriously, so you should too.
Dress for success
Generally, you should wear the same thing to your video interview as you would to any other interview – including pants or a skirt. It’s tempting to wear sweat pants or shorts for your interview, but you could be setting yourself up for disaster. It’s unlikely that you will have to stand up during the interview, but if you do, the fact that you chose to wear something embarrassing will be the only thing that’s remembered.
One thing to keep in mind is that bright colors or patterns may look jarring on video, and distracting to the person who will be interviewing you. Be sure to wear solid, muted colors and let your background and qualifications take center stage.
Take the time to make sure your hair is neat and your teeth are brushed before you sit down for the interview. The focus is going to be on your face, so if you need to shave or if you wear make-up, make sure your grooming meets the same standards that you would have for any other interview.
And don’t forget self-care. Interviewing is naturally stressful, so be sure to take steps to control your stress.
Don’t forget your non-verbal interaction
A video job interview is just like any other job interview. Even though you’re not in the room with the interviewer, many of the same non-verbal communication rules apply. When you would normally look the interviewer in the eye, remember to look directly into the camera. Make sure to avoid excessive fidgeting, and smile.
Take the time to set up your space well in advance of the interview. Be sure that you have a notebook, multiple writing implements, and a bottle or glass of water. It’s a good idea to also have a copy of your resume and the job description available for you to refer to during the interview. Plan ahead and jot down some talking points to mention during the interview to show how you’d be a good match for the position.
It can’t be said enough – a video job interview is a job interview. Yes, there are some different steps you need to take to prepare, but at the end of the day, the best way you can stand out in a video interview is to treat it like a regular interview. That means that in addition to preparing for a video interview, you should be prepared to answer the kind of questions you’d see in an interview. Don’t get so hung up in preparing for the technical aspects of the interview that you forget to consider the questions that are likely to be asked.
Don’t forget to follow up
After your interview, be sure to send a thank-you to the interviewer and anyone else you talked to during your interview. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s one that, if done right, will leave a positive impression.
Interviewing is stressful, and so is appearing on camera, and when you combine the two, it can be a little scary. But it doesn’t have to be. With the video interview, you actually have more control than you do in a face-to-face interview. You just have to do a little extra work in advance to make sure you have a great interview.