Interviewing In Slippers — How to Ace a Video Interview

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Job hunting these days surely isn’t for the camera shy. More and more employers are turning to the ease, time-savings, and cost-effectiveness of video interviews for potential candidates.

recent article in Business Insider said video interviewing “is reaching a tipping point” and is fast becoming standard practice for many firms. “Until now, neither the technology nor the market has really been ready for it on a widespread scale,” states the article, which offers several specific reasons why video interviewing is gaining popularity. Companies are conducting both two-way interviews in which the candidate and interviewer interact in real time as well as one-way interviews that require candidates to respond to pre-set questions that are later reviewed by a hiring manager.

Job seekers need to take steps to make sure they have the right preparation, technology and approach to perform well via video. Here are some tips that should land you rave reviews on your on-screen work.

Get tech savvy: Sometimes companies will require you to go to a nearby video studio where you will conduct your interview. More often, however, companies ask that you video-conference with an interviewer from your own home or office. If that is the case, make sure that you have the appropriate computer system, webcam, and other capabilities necessary to provide a clear and audible exchange between you and the interviewer. In some instances interviews can be conducted over Skype or FaceTime using a mobile phone. Hiring managers typically can tell you the systems requirements you need for a video interview. 

Set the scene: Viewers won’t only be looking at you – they’ll be seeing what’s around you as well. Make sure you set up in a well-lit place with a background that conveys professionalism. An uncluttered office setting is best, perhaps with a bookshelf or some simple artwork in the background. If it’s difficult to create that atmosphere, simply find a place in which a blank wall can be your background – that’s far better than a future employer catching a glimpse of a messy kitchen, a dingy basement, or the aftermath of last night’s party.

Limit distractions: An unsightly background could create a distraction to your interviewer, on your end make sure you limit as much external noise and movement as possible. If you have kids, this is the time to get a babysitter or send them out for ice cream with your spouse or a friend. And figure out a way to keep pets at bay if you have a dog that tends to bark at every noise or cat that likes to hop up on your desk at the most inopportune times. Make sure your other phones are on mute and put a note on your door asking any visitors or delivery people not to knock or ring the doorbell. While interviewers know distractions may occur, it still may leave a bad impression or can fluster you to the point you are unable to perform at your best.

Look the part: It’s often been said you should dress for the job you want — that holds true for video interviews as well. What you wear may be influenced in part by the role you are seeking, but a general rule of thumb is that you typically won’t lose points for being overdressed. Jeans and a t-shirt, or even just a casual polo shirt, may give the wrong impression. Depending on the role, wear something that ranges from business casual to button-down business. Also avoid small prints and go for colors that show up well on video such as royal and sky blue and navy. Remember that dressing the part from head to toe, even if you won’t be seen completely, can only boost your confidence to ace your video interview.

Pay attention to body language: Even though the interviewer will probably only see you from the mid-section up — and is getting a one-dimensional view of you at that — body language still transmits through the screen. Sit up straight, smile, and do your best to make eye contact with the webcam lens. If you typically use your hands to make a point, try to keep movement to a minimum. If you are passionate about a topic, lean in a bit to convey that you’re engaged.

Like anything else, once you get some experience under your belt video interviews become easier. Ultimately, the key is to be yourself and sell your strengths much in the same way you would if you were sitting across a desk from an interviewer.

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