Although video interviews are relatively new to the hiring scene, they are hugely popular. In fact, over half of all companies use video interviews in some capacity. Having a successful traditional interview can be difficult enough, without adding the additional elements of a video interview. For some great tips on acing interviews from a content standpoint, click here. Now, on to the five essential steps to nailing a video interview.
- The Technical Stuff
Most video interview invitations come with instructions regarding the platform and steps to connect. Don’t wait until the last minute to read the details provided. Not all video interviews are done via a simple link. A lot of them require application downloads. Give yourself plenty of time to get the technical aspect worked out. You should be ready and online 15 minutes prior to your interview time.
When it comes to technology, Murphy’s Law always applies. Your phone will run out of batteries, your computer will need a software update, and the software they require will not be compatible with your device. A meltdown is the last thing you need right before an interview and a technological catastrophe is the surest way to have one.
- The Background
Before an interview, take the time to decide which room you will use. Set up your computer or webcam exactly where you will place it for the interview and study the background carefully. A few items an interview will not want to see: dirty dishes, clutter of any kind, your Twilight poster, your bedroom, or your bathroom. Instead, try setting up your computer so that a bookshelf or wall are behind you.
- Maintaining Eye Contact
Maintaining eye contact is hard enough when you’re actually looking at a human being, much less a web camera. Setting up your webcam to be just about your eyeline, is the perfect location. Remember, it is the webcam that is considered “eye contact”, not the actual eyes of your interviewer. If the camera is set higher, it could appear you are rolling your eyes at the interviewer, and too low looks like you are looking down and not confident. Fight the urge to look at your own image as it is terribly distracting and the interviewer can tell you are not looking at them.
It can also happen that you begin to get nervous and fidgety after staring at a camera for too long. In fact, this can even make you sound more robotic as you lose the personal connection of seeing a human face. A good workaround for that is to quickly glance away from the webcam to the interviewer’s face every 8 seconds or so. It also prevents you from staring too long and coming across as creepy.
- Dress Up
For some reason, when people hear video interview, they think casual. Don’t! This interview should be taken as seriously as an in person meet. Wear a suit and professional makeup. Fight the urge to wear a sports jacket/blazer with sweat pants, since no one but you will know anyway. The point is that you will know. Psychologically speaking, wearing a suit and looking sharp from head to toe will do wonders for your confidence and help you to simulate a real interview environment from the distractions of your home. You should also test out your interview outfit on camera to be sure it’s not too bright or shiny. Also, make sure the colors of your outfit don’t affect your lighting. A great tip is to place a lamp above and just behind your computer to improve optimize your lighting.
- Eliminate Interruptions
Because you are not typically in an office for a video interview, it is much more difficult to manage interruptions. If you share your home with someone, make sure they know you are having an interview and are not to be disturbed. If possible, tape a sign to the door to remind them in case they forget. Make sure their voices won’t carry into the interview room if they will be home while you interview.
Also, turn off all device alarms and notifications. There is nothing more distracting that your Facebook notifications going off every few minutes. Put your pets away and keep them happily distracted and away from the front door in case the mailman rings the doorbell. For that matter, tape a note to the front door that says “do not disturb”. Choose the quietest room in the house to avoid an encounter with an untimely car alarm or neighbor’s quarrel.
In the event that you are interrupted, don’t panic or lose your temper. Even if your instinct is to yell or snap at someone who has ignored your signs, losing you cool during an interview paints you in the worst possible light. Keep your cool and politely remind said interrupter/interview saboteur that you are in the middle of an interview. Don’t forget to apologize to the interviewer for the interruption, but don’t dwell on it and make it an even bigger deal.
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Additional resources on Video Interviews: