Technology is changing the way the job search happens. It’s also changing the way companies are connecting with job seekers as they try to find the perfect candidates to fill open roles.
People are busier than ever, and thanks to various streams of technology, the job search process is more accessible than ever. Whereas before, you’d have to take half a day off from your job (or the entire day in some cases) to go to an interview, only to find out the job isn’t right for you--well, now, more companies are offering video interviews to streamline the process for themselves and job seekers. This enables individuals to meet during their lunch breaks, or connect with companies in other parts of the state, country or world.
Video interviews are sometimes used as a stand-in for the initial phone interview, or sometimes as a secondary step beyond the phone call. However a company chooses to use them in their interview process, one thing is certain: video interviews are a unique experience that requires a bit of preparation to ensure they go smoothly so that you can bring your best self forward.
Here’s your quick guide to acing your video interview.
Check your technology
Since the interview is made possible by technology, it’s vital to be sure your technology works properly to minimize any chance of being late to the call. While you can generally just click the link the interviewer sent you to access the video call, some systems will prompt you to download a desktop app ahead of time. To make sure you are prepared at the day and time of the video interview, take care of these initial steps ahead of time. As soon as you receive the video interview link, click it to see what happens, and follow the prompts to set it up properly for the actual call. On the day of the video interview, sign on a few minutes early to make sure that you have no technical difficulties. Generally, this will place you in a waiting room of sorts until the hosts of the meeting sign in. Joining the meeting early will also give you a chance to test out your audio speakers, or if given the option, to dial-in by phone while using the video capabilities on your computer.
Set the location and angle
If you’re at home, make sure you have an orderly background for your video call. Positioning yourself with a wall behind you, or in a nice, bright outdoor space can be a good idea, as it eliminates distractions and the chance for your interviewer to form opinions about you based on the details around you (books, piles of laundry, etc). Set-up your webcam so that you can look straight at it. Avoid awkward angles like looking up or down into the camera. Make sure you have plenty of light so they can see you clearly.
Dress the part
That is to say, dress for the role you want. If you’re interviewing with a startup, a smart, low-key business casual outfit may be the right look. If a corporate job, suit up. Make sure that you make it easy for your interviewer to picture you in the role. But just as important as your dress are the details you sport, like your haircut and style, makeup or facial hair. Your video interview isn’t the time to flaunt your personal style. Instead, opt for a neutral look that doesn’t detract from you or what you will be saying.
Make eye contact
While outlines and notes are great for phone interviews, they can prove just a bit more tricky for video interviews during which it’s vital to maintain eye contact and be engaged in the conversation. You can have notes nearby in case you need to glance down occasionally, but don’t depend on your notes as a script. Instead, you should have a good grasp of what you want to say and how you want to say it--knowing the notes will be there as backup if you happen to fumble.
Your video interview isn’t the time to check your emails, social media or notifications or download new apps. Your attention should be focused on your interviewer and the conversation at hand. Make sure to turn your phone's ringer off, and set it aside if needed to avoid the temptation of glancing at your phone when a new text message comes through.
Talking to a camera could feel a little odd--especially if you feel uncomfortable seeing a mirror image of yourself in the corner of the video screen. Recording some practice runs can give you the chance to evaluate your body language, posture, eye contact, voice and more so you can modify as needed to put yourself forth as the confident, self-assured person you are. You can also hold an actual mock interview by having a friend or family member field common interview questions your way so you can develop your responses.
Remember that standard interview practices still apply
Just like any interview, take the time to prepare. Don’t just parade your skills and experiences. Be able to connect them to the real world and to the specific job you’re interviewing for. Research the company ahead of time, and prepare a list of questions you’d like to discuss with your interviewer. As with any interview opportunity, the more prepared you are, the better it will show, the more at ease you will be and the easier it will be to connect with the human across the table from you.
Finally, remember to smile
As little Orphan Annie sang in the ever-popular musical Annie, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Never sign on to a video interview without a smile. This is your chance to make a vital first (or second) impression. Enough said.
One final word of advice--at the end of it all, make sure to show your gratitude by sending a quick thank you note to your interviewer.
Now, go forth into the wonderful world of video interviews and success.