Building on our last blog, which discussed best practices for telephone interviews, it’s now time to tackle the video interview. Again, we are seeing tools like Skype being used more frequently during initial interviews as a way of managing an increasingly global workforce. As companies become more global, it can be difficult to schedule high level executives for face to face interviews in a timely manner and these video tools help solve that problem. The key to remember when asked to do a video interview is to not let the technology (or any technology-related issues you encounter) act as a barrier to making a connection with your interviewer.
All of the tips in our last blog, including setting a time and ensuring you have good reception, still apply, but there are a few additional tips to consider when preparing for a video interview to ensure that the technology doesn’t get in the way of your qualifications:
- Test the program: If you have downloaded a new program in preparation for an interview make sure to test it first. It’s also best to exchange contact details well in advance so you can add the interviewer ahead of time and hopefully minimize connection problems when the interview does roll around.
- Be aware of your surroundings: While video interviews minimize travel issues, they do put the burden of ensuring an appropriate setting on you as an interviewee. Test your video stream and check what appears in the background. Remove anything distracting (wild art) or inappropriate (drying laundry) and change your position as necessary. Ideally, you should position yourself with as little in the background as possible so there is nothing to detract from you as a candidate. Also be aware of the lighting as natural lighting can change throughout the day and result in you being entirely backlit and not visible. Finally, if you are taking the call in your office, be aware of what confidential material may be visible (documents, folders, whiteboards) and ensure that this material is moved.
- Make eye contact: Eye contact is still key to making a connection with your interviewer. In the case of a video interview, this means looking at your computer’s camera, rather than the view of your interviewer or, worse, the view of yourself in the corner (though we know this is tempting). Again, this is a skill that can take some practice; perhaps put a post-it note next to the camera with an arrow as a reminder of where you should be focusing.
- Formality: Don’t let the distance created by a video interview trick you into thinking you’re in a less formal situation than an in-person interview. Being in a familiar environment can make you feel more relaxed and lead to you creating an unprofessional impression. You should still be dressing as you would for a regular, in-person interview (check out our blog for tips on interview attire) and be aware of your posture and body-language as you normally would.
This article suggests conducting a practice interview with a friend which I agree would be a good idea if you aren’t used to speaking in video conference settings and are worried about coming across as forced or unnatural. This gives you the opportunity to practice the tips above in a no-risk setting and get feedback on ways to improve in advance.