As more companies are using video interviews these days, I wanted to post some helpful tips for preparing for your interviews using this platform:
Dress for Success
- Be sure to dress professionally from top to bottom, not just your torso and head. Don’t forget about pants and shoes, since you never know if you may have to stand up.
- Don’t have bare shoulders – especially if you are only viewed shoulders up on screen – it will look like you have nothing on!
- Stay away from patterns. Solid colors work best.
Location and Environment
- If you don’t have a separate home office, find a location where you won’t be disturbed. Ideally this won’t be your kitchen or bathroom!
- Noise Levels: Turn off all radios, TVs, and silence your cell phone. Be sure to turn off things like fans, white noise machines, loud air conditioners, space heaters, dehumidifiers, etc.
- Put pets away, close the door, and make sure roommates and/or family members are aware of the importance of quiet!
- Consider putting a note on the door to keep delivery people, sales people, etc. from ringing the doorbell that may trigger pet noise or background chaos.
- If you have the option, set up your computer in a room in which you’re least likely to hear outdoor noise – from trucks, kids, etc.
- Think about what is in the background. A neutral wall with minimal background elements (like a plant or books) is best. Keep pictures /equipment to a minimum. Move toy bins or any clutter. Adjust the camera angle so your unfinished ceiling insulation isn’t showing!
- Check yourself out on screen – you should be the focus of the video capture – not your stereo equipment.
- Create optimal lighting. Turn on lights in the room so you don’t have a floating head or shut blinds to avoid harsh glare and shadows on your face.
- No eating or chewing gum – and if possible, try to avoid drinking. If you must take a sip – apologize and sip, then put the drink aside.
- Make sure your internet connection is stable.
- Test your camera and microphone well in advance of the actual meeting. Test again 10 minutes before the interview starts!
- Adjust the focus of the camera. Most cameras have the capability to fine tune the crispness of the video. It’s best to have a friend connect with you via webcam beforehand to tell you how you appear as you adjust the settings.
- It’s best not to wear headphones or a headset.
- Close ALL other programs not necessary for the call – email, instant messaging, office products such as Word, Excel, and close internet browser windows. Not only are these potentially a distraction, but it could also affect your connection quality.
- If possible, hard wire your computer to the internet vs. using wireless. If you do use wireless, try to be as close to your router as possible for the strongest connectivity
- Sometimes VPNs or firewalls can impact your connection / speed. It may be helpful to temporarily disconnect from VPN or firewalls.
- If your camera has the option of using effects (bunny nose & ears, cowboy hat, pink hair, etc.), be sure that you don’t accidentally turn them on! (Yes this has happened!)
- Don’t try to do the interview from your phone or tablet. This is generally not a good experience for the participants on either end.
Eye contact and positioning
- Adjust your chair so the camera is at eye level. Don’t look down at the camera since that angle is generally unflattering for most people!
- Look directly at the camera, not at the screen when you are talking. It’s tempting to look at yourself on your computer screen but this will appear as though you are looking away or getting distracted.
- Try not to fidget or play with your hair or check your email. Think of the camera as the interviewer’s eyes and look into it / them!
- If you wear glasses, make sure you don’t have glare on them from the camera; lose the glasses or wear contacts if either are options.
- Nod and smile to show that you are engaged!
Movement & Pace
- Be careful with too much movement. If you do experience delays or any choppiness during the connection – your movements will further accentuate it. Hand gestures are OK, but try not to go overboard! Clasp your hands in your lap or hold on to your desk to keep it under control.
- Reactions translate differently when onscreen so it’s important to compensate with extra enthusiasm and concise answers.
- There is usually a brief delay with video interviews. So pause for a few moments to ensure that the interviewer is done talking before you jump in. Speak succinctly and apologize if you speak over each other.
- Watch your body language. It’s easy to forget they can see you! Don’t look bored (chin resting on your hand), slouchy, and don’t look away from the camera when answering questions (remember – think of it as the interviewer’s eyes). Be careful with stretching & scratching.
- If you rest your arms on your desk, it’s extra-important not to slouch, so that your shoulders aren’t at your ears.
- Login 5-10 minutes before the interview in case you have technical problems and to ensure you are ready when the interviewer is!
- PRACTICE! Find someone that will practice with you using the same video technology you will be using during the interview if possible. Have them point out background & environmental distractions and give you honest feedback on how you appear (including where you are positioned in the screen, annoying movements, sound levels, etc.). You may also consider recording yourself on a site such as YouTube so you can see YOURSELF and make adjustments.
- You should be prepared for the types of questions you are likely to get, so practice the answers so you can judge for yourself how you will appear!
- If you are interviewing with multiple people during the day, be sure to turn off your camera during the breaks so they don’t see too much of your home or what you are doing during the break.
- At the conclusion of the interview, be sure the video is fully disconnected before you ‘relax.’ You’re still on camera until the session truly ends.
- Be sure to thank each interviewer for their time and ask for next steps in the process.
- Always send Thank You emails within 24 hours of your interviews.