Interviewing for a job can be difficult enough, but now technology has created a big, new, virtual wrinkle. More and more interviews are being conducted via the Internet by way of your webcam and they are growing in popularity because they save employers both time and money. Yet, due to the unfamiliar aspects interviewing virtually, these types of interactions can be especially challenging for mature job-seekers.
It goes without saying that the basic rules for successful interviewing apply, however there are several additional factors you'll need to consider if find yourself scheduled for a virtual interview. Here are 10 key tips that will help you prepare to present yourself at your best:
- Make certain you are comfortable with the technology. Prepare and practice with an "interview buddy" several times prior to your interview. You'll want to become familiar with the various technical aspects of virtual interviewing so that you can present yourself with confidence.
- Lighting is important. Move your computer to an area where your face will get plenty of full-on light. Shadows across your face can give you a less than flattering appearance and serve to diminish your impact.
- Be sure your background is professional and neat. At a minimum, a messy scene behind you will prove distracting. But, more likely, an untidy setting will give the impression you're disorganized and unprofessional. So be certain to have your computer set up in an area where the background is as businesslike as possible -- no kitchens, bedrooms, or toy-filled family rooms. Also, make sure that your selected area is free from any potential interruptions or noise. Turn off your phone and avoid any radios/TVs blaring in the next room.
- Eye contact can be tricky. This requires practice because most people initially focus on the activity being displayed on their own computer screens. You don't want to do that as it makes you look inattentive and distracted. You'll need to train yourself to hold your gaze on the camera. It's helpful to think of yourself as a television reporter and recognize that the camera represents your audience.
- Watch your body language. In addition to eye contact, virtual interviews pose some extra challenges to one's body language. Be careful not to hunch over your computer screen; remember to keep your body open (no crossed arms); and try to make your gestures as natural as possible. As you practice, get feedback as to how your nonverbal messages are coming across from your interview buddy.
- Dress in the same professional manner as you normally would for a job interview, however consider wearing a brighter color. This will help to flatter your skin tones and exude energy and confidence through the camera. (Wearing a somewhat brighter shade can be especially helpful for those with pale complexions. Otherwise the lighting could make them look ashen and washed-out.) Women might also wish to apply a bit more make-up -- nothing garish, just enough to compliment their features.
- In addition to choosing a brighter shade, it's generally best to wear a solid color or a subdued print. Clothing with a large, bold pattern can be distracting when viewed on the computer screen.
- Have a mirror handy to check your appearance right before you begin. Be certain that your hair is smoothly combed (the camera can often pick up stray hairs) and that your clothes are lying flat against your body (many times jackets or blouses can gape when you're seated.)
- Recognize that your interviewer may be feeling rather uncomfortable. Since video interviews are still relatively new, even accomplished interviewers can feel somewhat awkward. Therefore their normally professional interview style is likely to be compromised. By remaining calm and focused with your own answers and manner, you should be able to diffuse any uneasiness that might arise.
- Lastly, remember that a warm, friendly, and confident attitude will overcome most any technical glitch. So show enthusiasm for the position and pride in all of the great strengths and skills you have to offer. Anticipate success -- a positive attitude is the best preparation of them all!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!