By: Caroline Ceniza-Levine
If you're in job search mode and preparing for the inevitable job interview, don't forget to diversify your interview preparation, including getting ready for different interview environments and mediums, not just in-person. Being asked for a video interview instead of live is increasingly common. Employers like it because, unlike phone interviews, video interviews feel closer to live interviews with the ability to connect face-to-face and the employer’s ability to assess non-verbal clues. It’s good for the candidate, too, in that there is less time lost in travel. Frequently, these appointments are faster to schedule. However, video interviews are not the same as live interviews – they require technology and a different set of skills to prepare and perform successfully. Here are 10 tips for successful video interviews.
Test your connection.
Test your connection for Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, or whatever interview platform you are specifically using. Be prepared to use the technology your interviewer prefers. Internet connectivity varies based on what you’re using and is also influenced by what else you have running (if there are others in your household, and everyone is streaming HD movies on Netflix, you get the idea). Do a test run to see how fast/ slow your connection is and to see if you will have any problems with video.
Test your webcam and display placements.
Depending on where your webcam is and where your display is, you may have to toggle between the two frequently during the video interview. Ideally they are close enough such that, as you’re looking at your display (therefore looking at your conversation partner and reading their non-verbal cues) you are still looking directly at your webcam so they feel like you are looking at them. Sometimes, however, the webcam and display are far enough apart that, by looking at your display, you look away from the person, and that’s distracting to the other side (they will feel like they’re having a conversation with someone who doesn’t make eye contact). You have to practice toggling back and forth unless your display and webcam line up exactly. Again, test with a friendly person so you can determine what they’re seeing.
Test your audio.
Make sure that your mic resonates clearly to the other person and that your speakers make the other person understandable to you. You may need to use headphones to ensure that there isn’t an echo. Ideally, you don’t need headphones because you’ll look more professional in any interview without headphones (video interview or otherwise!), but audio quality is more important than appearance here, so check the audio in advance to be sure.
Connect to your interviewer in advance.
Connect to your interviewer in advance on the platform of choice so you’re not waiting till the last minute and realize you can’t find them right before your interview time. At the very least, trade phone information, so you have a backup in case the platform is unavailable. Make sure you know how to log into the platform directly – don’t assume your computer will remember you when you last signed in.
Have a professional background visible.
Make sure you have a professional background visible during the video interview. If you normally work in your bedroom and your bed is visible to the other person, move your laptop to a different room where there is a more neutral background. Or perhaps you can put a throw over your bed so it doesn’t look so casual.
Dress professionally from the waist up.
Make sure you have professional dress from the waist up. You will probably just have your face to the shoulders visible in a video interview but the webcam may capture more of what you’re wearing. You could probably wear jeans and no one will know. However, some people act casual when they dress casual, so you may want to dress up anyway to give your body the signal that yes, this is an interview.
Smile, make eye contact, and speak clearly.
Video deadens your energy so a video interview still won’t replicate a live meeting. You have to proactively make sure that you smile, make eye contact, and speak clearly and enthusiastically. Don’t fidget or make a lot of movement – if the connection is slow, you’ll appear fuzzy and out of focus. This is distracting to the other person and appears unprofessional, even though it’s the technology, not you.
Use Post-Its or index cards to remind yourself of these tips.
If you need helpful reminders of all these video-specific tips (e.g., look at the webcam! Smile! Speak clearly!) or if you need talking points for your interview, put post-its or tape index cards to your computer monitor to remind you. This way, you see these hints in real time as you’re interviewing.
Practice your key project examples.
Remember that, beyond the technology, a video interview is still an interview. Content and preparation matter, as they do with phone or live interviews. Practice your key project examples, know what your value proposition is, prepare how you’re going to tell your story so it’s relevant to this company and this job.
As with phone or live interviews, after a video interview follow up with a thank you once it’s over!
Caroline Ceniza-Levine coaches executives and entrepreneurs to fulfillment in work and life. She writes for Forbes Leadership, SixFigureStart.com, and NYCTrailingSpouse.com.
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