While phone interviews are the most common alternative for out-of-state candidates, it’s not unusual for a distant employer to request an interview session with a candidate via Skype or Gmail. Welcome to the post-recession economy, where candidate searches have gone global, and where technology has improved so much that travel isn’t necessary to meet face-to-face.
If you’re asked to interview via video chat, take these simple steps to make the process smooth and the outcome promising.
Video Interview Tips
- First, don’t say yes if you don’t have the capability. Simply ask for an alternative. Many a candidate will cheerfully agree to a video interview and will then spend the next two days scrambling to buy and download the equipment necessary to make this happen. If you don’t Skype or Gmail chat on a regular basis already, pause for a moment before you answer. Most employers will happily provide an alternative method if you ask.
- Think about your setting. Give yourself some lead time to make sure you have an appropriate backdrop. What will your interviewers see behind you? Get rid of messy book shelves, overflowing trashcans, and Spice Girls posters. Since almost anything in the background can become a distraction, think about moving your computer to an area where nothing will appear behind you but a neutral colored wall.
- Focus on lighting and sound. Are your pets safely contained where they won’t start barking or need attention? Is your phone turned off? Are your children corralled and are you reasonably assured that no one will ring the doorbell? Right before the conference begins, make sure TVs, music and washing machines are all turned off. As for lighting, try overhead light that’s bright but soft. Don’t light yourself from below or directly from the side. Experiment with different lighting arrangements before the interview is scheduled.
- Spend some time on makeup and wardrobe. You’ll feel more confident if you dress as if the meeting were taking place in person; this means paying attention to detail from your hair down to your shoes. (It even means subtle perfume and minty breath, though of course these things won’t matter to your interviewer.) Remember that you may have to stand up and move around during the meeting, so make sure every part of you is dressed in a way you would want your interviewers to see. Don’t skip the pants. Dress conservatively in solid colors and business-appropriate necklines; keep the emphasis on your face and eyes where it belongs.
Finally, and most importantly, take a practice run…or three. Ask a friend to make sure your camera angle, lighting and background are working for you. The more times you run through the process, the more you’ll be able to focus on your credentials, not technical glitches, frozen screens, sound problems or a cat who insists on walking across your keyboard while you talk. Without a firm handshake, your eye contact and your voice will carry more weight than ever, so your practice sessions will be critical to your success.
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