Instead of thinking about an interview as getting the job, consider the fact that many qualified candidates – maybe even more qualified than you – have not been offered ‘the job’. With the advent of video interviews, there are now more technical trip-ups than ever before to prevent you from a successful interview. Cell phone batteries die faster, wi-fi is stretched across more devices, and these interruptions can occur on either end of the video interview.
In this blog post, we’re going to outline a few ways even top candidates lose job offers to under-qualified candidates, or even leave the job unfilled for weeks or months. It’s not good for anyone. With some light preparation, an interview over video should enhance your qualification, not detract from it.
The truth is, even if your past experience, present interest, and future-oriented motivation matches up with a job description that looks like it was written just for you, there’s always a chance that reality will set in at the exact wrong time. It’s important to consider interviews to be careful meetings that, although not lengthy or extravagant, must be curated to ensure completion in a mutually positive-thinking aspect. Things can go wrong, and they will go wrong.
Hopefully, with this guide, they just won’t go wrong for you.
Check Your Equipment
Nothing can derail a video interview faster than a webcam or mic that doesn’t work. It’s difficult to describe how lost and aimless you feel when you start asking ‘Can you hear me?’ on video with someone. What’s worse is when, in silence, they start shaking their head and reply by mouthing ‘I can’t hear you.’ Ideally, you would be sitting across from your recruiter, hiring manager, or job candidate in person, in a well-conditioned office and an iced tea with lemon. However, sometimes the top candidate is 355 miles away in Trenton, New Jersey, and a 20-minute video conference call is the best you can do given your circumstances.
Showing that you’ve tested everything and are prepared will start the interview off on the right foot. Don’t and you could bomb the interview even if you’re the perfect candidate for the job. First impressions are key. If you’re on a laptop or other device, make sure you’ve fully charged everything or are plugged into a power source.
Choose Your Environment
Frame your background to be distraction free. An interview should focus on the conversation at hand, and any personality demonstrated through your video interview should be both positive and uninterrupted. If interviewing at home, make sure the space you’re interviewing in is clean and presentable. If you have art or anything that could be distracting hanging on your walls, consider taking it down. People will make subconscious judgements about all sorts of things.
If you’re a parent, plan in advance to have someone babysit for the duration of the interview. Own a pet? Consider if you may need to remove yourself – or your pet – in order to avoiding any distraction that may make you appear unfit to perform a job. Make sure you have privacy and won’t be distracted by friends and family. We all remember the Robert Kelly CNN clip where his kids ran into his office during a live interview. While this is humorous to everyone on the internet, it might not be the best thing for a job interview. Eliminate the possibility of distracting yourself or your interviewers by carefully selecting your background.
Lighting & Framing
Video interviews are tricky when it comes to eye contact because your impulse is to look at the persons face on screen. If you do, you might spend the whole interview looking down rather than in the eyes of the interviewer. The trick is to move between looking at their face (good for reading reactions) and the webcam (which will give the appearance of making eye contact). Also, don’t get too distracted with your surroundings. Looking up and around while thinking isn’t always bad, but you want to give the appearance of being focused on the interview. Keep your attention on the screen/webcam.
Lighting is also important. Set up a few lights to make sure you’re well lit when interviewing. If you’re without extra lamps, try bumping up the brightness on your screen when using a laptop. This can add some illumination to your face so it doesn’t look like you’re interviewing in a dungeon. If you’re interviewing during the day sitting facing a window is also a nice trick to add natural light without a complex lighting setup.
The way you frame and angle your webcam can make a huge difference. We recommend framing your body, chest up without too much space above your head. Angle your webcam straight on, at about eye level. This will allow you to make good “eye contact” while giving the interviewer a clear view of your face. Angle up and they’ll be looking up your nose. Angle down and they’ll feel like their sitting on your desk.
Attire, Body Language & Speech
Dress as you would for an in-person interview. Research the company and ask about their company culture/dress code before you interview if possible. Then make sure you dress in a way that won’t come across as too casual, or too professional. Lastly, wear pants. We’ve all heard the joke about doing video interviews in your underwear. Just don’t.
Body language is always important when interviewing but it can be difficult to be natural when looking at a webcam. Make sure you smile (but not too much), be mindful of your posture, do your best to avoid fidgeting and gesture with your hands as you would normally when speaking in person.
Remember, interviewing over the internet can cause delays and sound quality issues that make it difficult to clearly understand speech. Therefore, it’s best to speak slowly and deliberately. Also, pause before responding as the delay could cause you to talk over each other. Eliminating that awkwardness will allow your interviewer to evaluate you on your qualifications and professionalism.
Remember, slip-ups can occur at any time, for you or another candidate for the same job. Every precaution that you can prepare for, you ought to – and consider that other candidates will as well. This is just one small way you can put your best foot forward in an interview if it’s over video.
Once that’s all done and you’ve hit send on that thank you note, reward yourself for an interview well done.
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