In today’s global work environment, remote teams and global work assignments are becoming increasingly common. Video conferencing is now a part of daily business interactions, including job searching and recruiting.
Job seekers will definitely encounter a video interview at some point, and they pose some unique challenges for candidates. Here are a few tips for nailing the on-screen interview:
Location, location, location
A professional setting with no visual distractions is essential for a successful video interview. Even an office or a clean bedroom can still be a distraction to the interviewer – you want all eyes on you during your interview, and nothing in the background grabbing the attention.
For the perfect setting, try to book a meeting room in your library or school building. If you must interview from home, it may be worth setting up a temporary “set” somewhere in the house with a blank wall in the background and no clutter or household items around. Choose a place that is well lit, preferably with natural light. It should also be completely quiet.
Let family and roommates know that you have an interview and that absolute silence is required. Consider putting a sign on the door to remind people, just in case someone tries to come knocking.
Professional attire is just as important on camera as it is in person. This means a complete outfit – no sweat pants on the bottom.
Be mindful of your fashion choices. Small patterns, shimmery or sheer fabrics, and sparkly accessories appear differently on camera than in person. Opt for a more conservative colour palette and make sure your top is a different colour than your background to avoid the appearance of a floating head.
Dress the same way you would for an in-person interview at the company. If you were visiting their offices, would you wear a full suit? If so, then suit up for your on-camera appearance as well. Dressing up properly will help you “get into the zone” as well.
For a video interview, your professional appearance is more than just your outfit. It also includes your online persona. If you are using a service like Skype, make sure your username and profile picture are professional and uses your real name. Consider using a professional headshot for the image.
Mind the time difference
Often, video interviews are used because the recruiter is located in a different location than the candidate. However, technology allows interviewers to make connections with candidates no matter where they are.
In many cases, if you are interviewing from a different location than the interviewer, there might be a time difference. Confirm with your interviewer if they are in a different time zone, and don’t expect them to know what your time zone is either. Keep this in mind when committing to an interview to make sure you don’t end up interviewing in the middle of the night.
One of the greatest advantages of doing a video interview instead of in-person is that you can cheat a little bit! You definitely don’t want to be reading notes verbatim, but you can definitely have a little cheat sheet with important information to jog your memory up on the screen during your interview, without the interviewer noticing.
Keep notes to a minimum though, limiting it to information that you often forget, or questions that you have prepared for the end of the interview. Consider keeping your resume open as well so you can refer to it if necessary.
Do a test run
The best thing you can do to prepare for your interview is to do a test run with a friend, using the exact computer you will be using, in the same location and outfit you will be wearing the day of. Doing a test run is a great way to prevent any technical issues on the day of, and calm your nerves.
Make sure your friend can hear you clearly, that there is no lag in the video, that the lighting is fine and your outfit looks professional and translates well on camera. Confirm that the WiFi signal is strong enough so you won’t need to worry about dropped calls. Have your friend watch for any ticks or habits you might have that look odd on screen. Try using your cheat sheet and see if your friend notices.
Consider doing a screen recording of your practice interview so you can watch it yourself afterwards and see how you will look to your potential employer.