More hiring departments are turning to video interviews as a way to manage their time and get a better sense for a candidate than a simple phone interview can provide. Applications like FaceTime, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts make video interviews free and easy, and the ability to interview from the comfort of your home makes them convenient – but don’t let yourself get too casual!
A video interview can make you look confident, polished, and poised – or it can make you look unprepared and unprofessional.
You’ve fine-tuned your resume, polished your cover letter, and learned as much as you can about the organization. Now take the time to prepare yourself for your closeup and ace this virtual interview.
1. Test out the connection beforehand
Verify ahead of time which software you’ll be using for the call – Skype, FaceTime, Google+ Hangouts, etc. – then spend some time familiarizing yourself with it. Call a friend to test out the connection using the device and headset you’ll use in the interview. Make sure you have all the kinks worked out before you’re face-to-face with the interviewer, and you can focus entirely on the interview itself.
2. Close all other computer programs
Shut down any program on your computer that might use up bandwidth or make noise during the call. This will help your video chat software run better, and also remove the temptation for you to tab over to check email during the call. Make your setup distraction-free!
3. Dress appropriately
Sure, you’re interviewing from your living room, but you still need to look as professional as you would in an in-person interview. Go for solid colors over loud patterns, which can play weirdly on the screen, and keep your jewelry simple. Check yourself out in the camera ahead of time – do your earrings shimmy like crazy every time you shake your head? Is the pattern on your tie causing visual feedback?
Even though you’ll probably only be seen from the shoulders up, don’t give into the temptation to wear sweats on the bottom. You may have to get up to adjust something. If you’re in doubt, check out the organization’s website or Facebook page to see how employees dress in photos.
4. Silence is golden
Make sure your interview space is quiet, which means locking the dog out of the office, closing your window if you’re on a noisy street, and keeping your kids from tearing through the background. A headset with a microphone can help cut down on exterior noise – but make sure to test it first.
5. Set the stage
What will your interviewer see behind you during the call? Clear away last night’s wine glasses, take down that awesome Metallica poster, and make sure the kitty litter box and drying laundry are out of the frame. Set a stage for yourself, with a bookshelf, nice art, or houseplants that tell a story about you, and help fill out your personality. If you were going to have a portrait painted, what would be in it?
Video feeds can look very unflattering in certain lights, so take a few minutes to make sure there aren’t any weird shadows creating scary monster effects across your face. Your face should be well lit, with the light should be positioned in front of you but not directly on you. Multiple sources of diffused light are a good bet, like lamps, or daylight filtered through a curtain. Don’t set yourself up in front of a bright background, like a window, or your face will be in the dark.
7. Look at the camera
The hardest part of video conferencing for me is keeping myself from staring at my own image. It’s so awkward and distracting! Try to make eye contact with the camera, as though you’re looking into the other person’s eyes. One of the best ways to do that is to move the window with your interviewer in it towards the top of the screen – that way when you’re looking in their image’s eyes, at least your gaze is near the camera.
8. Don’t fidget
Swiveling can be incredibly distracting in real life, but in a video interview it’ll be the only thing your interviewer will see of you. Same with bouncing, tapping, and other forms of fidgeting. Remember that every gesture you do is magnified through the screen, and try to hold still throughout the interview.
9. It’s OK to say if it’s your first time!
If this is your first video interview, don’t hesitate to say so up front. Not everyone is comfortable onscreen, but if you’ve done your best to set the stage, check your equipment, and prepare for the content of the interview itself, most interviewers will be understanding, and might even cut you some slack.
Have you ever done a video interview? How did it go? Tell us in the comments.