If you’ve been looking for work recently, you might have noticed that video interviews are now incredibly common. Whether it’s using Skype, Zoom, or any of the competitors, there are a few things you’ll need to do to ace this video interview. Remember: even though you’re not going anywhere, you still have to prepare!
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Put the Light Behind Your Computer
When choosing where to sit during this interview, you should know that everyone looks better if they have it in front of a window. If your light source is behind you, the hiring manager will only see your outline and not your face. Overhead lighting casts an unflattering glare, casting shadows on your face and emphasizing wrinkles and imperfections. A table lamp or window behind your phone or laptop is the perfect lighting, with the window being the most flattering. Using a window also means you don’t have to fuss with a table lamp.
Check for Glare
See if anything in your shot will create a glare. The worst offenders are watches, jewelry, and glasses. While removing an accessory is an easy step, not everyone can go without glasses. Angling the computer or the light can minimize that issue.
Keep Notes Off Camera
The great thing about a video interview (besides the commute) is that you can have notes that you wouldn’t normally have in an interview on hand. Whether it’s notes about how the company is doing, some interesting news you found about them, or any questions you want to ask, you can have that easy reach in front of you (and off camera) to show how you’re the ideal candidate.
If you have a few points you really want to get in but are nervous about remembering, write them out and tape them up to the window in front of you. Taping them on the wall or window at your seated eye level during the interview will give you the option to read them without having to fidget or shuffle papers around.
Check Your Tech
If you’re using your phone, be sure to prop it up to be the right height. No one wants to talk to you from the view of your lap, and you don’t really want them looking up your nose, do you? Most people don’t want to hold the phone for the entire time. Propping books up onto a table can help achieve the right height, or using a low shelf or eye-level shelf on a bookshelf. The main thing is that the phone is eye-level with you when you’re sitting down in front of it.
If you’re using a traditional computer monitor, be sure to have your seat centered on the monitor that has the camera in it. If you’re using a more portable option like a laptop or a tablet, consider raising it on a pile of books or a box to make sure the camera is eye-level when you’re sitting down facing it.
Don’t Forget To Charge Up and Download
Make sure to have whatever you’re using, it has a fully charged battery or you have the plug-in chord nearby! There’s nothing worse than losing the interview because of a preventable problem.
Make sure that you know which format the hiring manager wants to use and be sure to download it before it’s time to start your interview. There’s nothing worse than having to tell the hiring manager that you’re working on downloading or getting into the interview chat. Avoid that embarrassment ahead of time!
Check Your Audio and Webcam
Making sure ahead of time that your settings for both the camera and audio are on will save you trouble later. Downloading Zoom and Skype doesn’t change the manual settings on your phone, tablet, or laptop, but you can. Take a minute to do that before you have your interview.
Do You Need Headphones?
Wearing headphones can reduce or even prevent weird echoes, but it does depend on the size of the room you’re in. You can check it out ahead of time by calling a trusted friend and putting them on speakerphone. Ask them what they think of the sound, so that you can know for certain.
If you decided that you do need them, choose which to wear carefully. Small headphones are more professional than a giant gamer set.
Keep the Setting in Mind
Keep the background to be with as little distractions as possible, with as little noise and as little clutter as possible. A blank wall is better than a busy background, and anything is better than a messy room.
Find the right space for you to sit away from the camera. Make sure to sit with your shoulders and head showing on their screen. Don’t lean in (you will appear giant to the hiring manager) and make sure to smile and nod.
Minimize the Interruptions
Let everyone in the household know that you’re going to be busy and turn your phone and email notifications off. There’s nothing much worse than hearing the ding of someone receiving an email while they’re talking to you, or hearing a phone receive a text message. It implies disrespect for everyone concerned, and that is the last thing you’re trying to convey in a video interview.
On the other hand, if you are interrupted by something you can’t control (dog barking, an ambulance outside, etc.) than just let the other person know. If some part of your home situation means that you might very well be interrupted (young children, your own dog, etc.) than be sure to let the hiring manager know at the beginning of the interview. Should it happen, just deal with it the best you can. This is about being professional, despite the circumstances.
Just because you’re not there in person doesn’t mean that you can wear a t-shirt. Dress for the industry and position you’re applying for, no matter what. Dress to impress, no matter where you’re interviewing! You’re still being judged on what they see, even if it isn’t inside their office. (And please wear pants.)
Practice Ahead of Time
If you’re not used to using Skype or Zoom, this can appear intimidating. Practicing with a friend or family ahead of time can get you used to this before hand. You’ll be able to see them (bonus!) and you’ll be getting comfortable for this interview at the same time. Remember that if you’ve ever had a phone interview, it definitely wasn’t the first time you’d ever used a phone before. You had loads of practice before then! This is the same thing, so be sure to try it out on every willing family member and friend.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Maintain Good Posture
Being home is relaxing, but a relaxed posture doesn’t express enthusiasm – and you want to appear enthusiastic! You want this position, so be sure to look like it with the same posture if you were in an interview! Some chairs are designed to encourage you to curl up in them, but this is not the time for that. Choose a seat that isn’t extremely soft so it’s easier for you to show that the hiring manager has your attention.
Explain Any Long Pauses
Technology can do a lot, but there are still occasional setbacks. Live streaming video can pause or fall out of sync with the audio, or freeze completely. If you’re talking and pause too long, or you take a minute to think of your answer, be sure to let them know so they will be reassured that there haven’t been any technical issues.
While we’re discussing how technology can fail, also be sure to speak clearly and at the same speed as the other person. When live streaming video audio falls out of sync, it can be difficult to understand the other person. Hopefully this won’t be an issue, but speaking clearly can help prevent any miscommunication.
Look Into The Camera When You’re Talking
We saved this one for the end because it may be the most important thing you can do. Videos are not the same as in-person, because eye contact doesn’t work the same way as having a camera above you. Looking at the person’s image when you’re talking mean they don’t see you looking at them. Since the camera is slightly above the image, they see your eyes looking down. This isn’t the confident impression you want to give! Figure out where your camera is and look at it when you’re talking. Think of this as more of a phone interview with some body language thrown in. Watch the image when they talk, but look at the camera when you’re talking. This one step will make a big difference in what the hiring manager thinks of you.
If you have taken all of these steps, then you will give the professional image you want to convey at your next online job interview. Check out our next blog post, which deals with job interview questions that specifically relate to the coronavirus: