You may be doing your interview from the comfort of your own home, but it’s important to be just as professional and prepared in a video interview as in a regular one.
Although technology has made interviewing easier, it has also introduced a new set of downsides that candidates need to be aware of.
Whilst the idea of a remote interview, for example by Skype or Facetime, may seem more relaxed on paper, in practice the same rules and protocols apply as in any face-to-face interview. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to help you ace your next video interview:
Host your own tech rehearsal
DON’T forget to check your equipment in advance. You’ll give a very poor first impression if you dial in at the last moment, only to discover you have faulty speakers or you’ve got to scramble to plug in the charger before the battery goes flat. Similarly, not appearing to know how to turn on your camera is frustrating for the interviewer and will make you come across as unprofessional and under-prepared. Charge your laptop or tablet the night before and keep the charger plugged in for the duration, just to be on the safe side. Ask a friend or relative to have a dry run with you before the big day.
DO make sure you have a strong connection. If your connection is not reliable at home, don’t risk the screen freezing or an irritating delay which can interrupt the conversation flow. If you can’t be confident of a good connection at home, consider finding somewhere more suitable from which to do the interview.
Set the scene
DON’T underestimate the importance of background. Sitting in a cluttered kitchen, lying back on your bed, or lounging in the living room with the cat snoozing in the background will come across as distracting and unprofessional.
DO ensure that there is good, natural lighting and minimal background noise. Natural lighting is most flattering on camera and will ensure the interviewer has a clear view of you. If you have children or pets or share your space with others, make sure that they can’t be seen or heard in the background. The only noise should be you answering the interviewer’s questions.
Be mindful of your body language
DON’T become distracted by your own image on the screen. It’s tempting to keep checking your own image in the corner of the screen to make sure you look right, but to the interviewer it will seem as if you are not looking at them.
DO check yourself briefly when the camera first turns on, but then turn your attention to the camera. Practise looking into the camera rather than looking into the screen to eye contact on video. You will look slightly off-centre to your interviewer unless you remember to keep looking up. Lean slightly towards the camera so that the interviewer can get the best possible view of you and your facial expressions.
DO show enthusiasm – but subtly. Having your hands in view shows openness, and it’s good to smile and show interest. But speak clearly and don’t rush. It’s all too easy to unintentionally interrupt someone on Skype (more so than in person), so give clear signals that you have finished speaking so your interviewer knows it is their turn to speak again. You could do this by sitting back a little from the screen as you finish, marking a decent pause, or even saying something like ‘I hope that’s answered your question’ to signal the end of your speaking turn.
Dress to impress
DO dress as if you were interviewing in person. Dark colours are best, perhaps with a discreet pop of colour. Avoid busy patterns and sparkly, heavy or noisy jewellery, which can be a distraction.
DON’T dress down. You wouldn’t wear pyjama pants with a blouse to a real-life interview, so don’t do it for your video interview! Wardrobe malfunctions happen easily, and you want to be prepared if you have to move from your seated position for any reason.
Know your options
DON’T do a Skype interview if you don’t have to. Some interviews tend to be very technical and in-depth, and Skype can be quite a cumbersome way of handling such conversations. Sometimes a phone call or, better still, face-to-face interactions are just more appropriate.
DO offer to meet face-to-face if that’s an option. Doing so will demonstrate enthusiasm and resourceful thinking, and if your interviewer finds video interviews clunky they may thank you too. And of course, you’ll have a better chance of standing out from the crowd by appearing in person.