Video interviews are becoming an increasingly popular method by which employers interview their promising candidates. It’s made the impersonal online world a little easier to bear and has added rapport to remote interviews. Now, employers can have face to face conversations with candidates, instead of hiring workers sight unseen.

A study conducted by Office Team in 2012 indicated that 63% of recruiters now use video interviews during the hiring process. That was 5 years ago and the trend is growing. The reason? Technology has sped up hiring times and significantly increased efficiency.

Recruiters no longer have to spend hours on the phone with less-qualified candidates. Video interviews have made the screening process easier and recruiters can review recorded interviews when relevant jobs open up.

The convenience and efficiency of video interviews are an asset for employers, but what about candidates? For those who are less comfortable with video interviewing, the experience can be less than satisfying and may actually be a detriment to the job seeker who doesn’t know how to make the most of this new method of interviewing.

The truth is, video interviewing is not going away, so here are 6 tips to make it work for you.

Video interviews are not so different from in-person

Even though you will probably conduct a video interview from your home, you must treat it like a formal, professional, in-person interview. While you’re not likely to wear your pajamas, or appear unkempt during a video interview, you’ll want to take extra care in making sure you are camera-ready. Your potential employer will only see the top half of you, so be sure to appear professional. Add a jacket to your ensemble and make sure your neckline looks good on camera. Before the interview, check the lighting in the room to make sure it doesn’t cast strange shadows. Adjust the height of your computer screen to find the most flattering angle.

Moreover, just like actual in-person interviews, be courteous and a good listener. You may be excited and anxious to get through the interview, only to find that you’re not selected because of your over-eagerness. Avoid interrupting the interviewer to interject your thoughts or to finish sentences. Instead, during your video interview, wait on the interviewer to finish speaking, take three seconds to consider your response, and then respond. Taking a three second pause also allows for delays commonly associated with online video streaming.

The idea here is to treat a video interview, despite never leaving your house, as a professional meeting. Have a copy of your resume (printed or open on your PC) in front of you, so you can respond quickly to any questions that the interviewer asks.

Check your tech before your interview

Technical issues always seem to occur when we least expect them. But, you can prevent some common problems during your video interview by carefully checking your equipment beforehand. As soon as you schedule a video interview, test your camera and microphone.

While employers and recruiters understand that some technical issues are beyond our control, if they cannot get a decent recorded video because your equipment fails too often, they will move on to the next candidate and you will lose the opportunity. Sure, being disconnected during an interview does happen, but when it occurs too many times, the interviewer may consider you unprepared or incapable of managing your equipment, and cross you off the list.

Instead of leaving your technology to chance, run a test with your equipment at least two days beforehand, and once more a few hours before the scheduled interview. Call a colleague or friend, and ensure that your equipment works smoothly. During the call, ask your friend to sit through a mock interview with you. Being prepared for an interview includes equipment reliability as well as your competence and comfort with conducting the interview in front of a camera. Having a practice session with the equipment in the location where the interview will take place will ensure you’re ready to make a great first impression.

Scout a location for your interview

A professional appearance and appropriate mannerisms are extremely important during an interview. However, with a video interview, you must also consider where you will be interviewing. For instance, would you ever do a professional interview in the bathroom? Of course not!

When considering where to sit during the interview, scout a location in your home that has a plain background. You can use a solid color shower curtain hung up behind you if you don’t have a clear wall. The background shouldn’t be a distraction, as that can cause interruptions to the interviewer. It may sound like a good idea to have a bookshelf in the background, but it may be distracting to an interviewer who becomes more interested in your choice of reading material than in you.

The lighting source is an important consideration when choosing your location. It’s generally best to have a source of natural light. Just make sure the light is shining towards you and not behind you, or you will look like a dark shadow and your face won’t be visible. Choose a room that has plenty of bright light to show your face clearly.

And here’s a tip that is just common sense: never interview at your place of work!

Find a quiet place and eliminate distractions

One of the quickest ways to fail your video interview is to have distracting noises in the background. Screaming children, barking dogs, doorbells—these factors can immediately ruin your chance at success.

Make sure you schedule your interview at a time when there will be no distractions; children should be at school or at daycare, dogs put outside, and your doorbell shut off. Plus, make it a habit of scheduling interviews during times when you know you won’t be distracted (visiting neighbors or relatives).

It can wait - don't text during an interview

You may think it’s fine to chat privately with someone during a video interview. The problem with that is an interviewer may ask to share your screen without warning. Or, your microphone picks up the sound of a chat message alert.

With everyone familiar with social media, it’s not hard to distinguish the sound of a Facebook message ding or smartphone message tone. Plus, chatting with someone else while you’re supposed to be interviewing is distracting to you and to the interviewer. Doing too many things at once will disrupt the answers that you give to your future employer. And, it may tell the employer that you’re not truly interested in the job since you seem to be otherwise occupied.

Don’t make this mistake! Turn off all outside communication and resist the temptation to chat or answer texts during your interview.

Lights! Camera! Action! Look into the camera

The big question during a video interview: Where do you look? The temptation to look at the screen where the interviewer’s eyes are displayed is not correct. We are conditioned to look at the person’s eyes we are speaking to during an in-person interview, but that’s not the case with video interviews.

In fact, you need to be looking at the camera. The camera is where your interviewer is looking, so you must do the same and look at the camera, which will give the effect that you’re actually looking at their eyes.

Moreover, you don’t want your camera to capture the entire shot of your body. Only shoot from the chest up. Keep the camera at eye-level, so you don’t produce a strange facial effect (double chin or long face). This is why it’s important to not use your laptop camera, but a separate video camera perched on a tripod.

Video interviewing doesn’t have to be difficult or uncomfortable, especially if you view it as an acting audition. Think of it like this: you have to prep the scene, maintain calm and pleasant facial expressions, and be prepared with thoughtful, responsive answers. Coming into your video interview this way can ease the tensions and worries of having a video interview nightmare. 

19 September 2017

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