As the workplace becomes more global, as teams become scattered geographically and as digital technology allows us to converse with someone half a world away as if he were right in the room with us, we are going to see more and more video interviews. These are interviews where you are interviewing via a video conference bridge. Sometimes this can be done at your home and sometimes this may be arranged in a satellite office or business center.
Because video interviews are relatively inexpensive, while at the same time providing an audio and visual connection between the prospective employee and the hiring company, they are often used for screening or first interviews.
Most video interviews are live with two parties communicating instantly between each other. However, there is a recorded interview format. In this instance, the prospective employee is reading or hearing questions from an automated system, then given 2-3 minutes to answer each question. In a recorded session, either the system reviews the content for keywords and/or the interviewer will later review the recorded answers at his leisure.
When it comes to video interviewing, there are some best practices to follow.
Act as if This is an in Person Interview
Do the basic research just as you would for any job interview. Learn more about the company and very carefully review the job description. Remember that the technology may be more advanced, but the questions will probably be some of the standard interview questions for the type of position. Be prepared.
Always get up the morning of the interview and get ready as if you were going into an office and meeting the hiring manager. There is an old joke about one of the benefits of working from home and communicating with the home office via video conference that states “you only have to look nice from the waist up.” This might sound like a great idea and would save time getting ready, but it’s actually a very bad idea. You may need to get up to find a piece of information or adjust the lighting and if you’re wearing your old ratty pajama bottoms, you will look extremely unprofessional. Assume the hiring manager will be able to see you and your environment.
In addition, you will always act more confident when you feel more confident. Do everything you can to give yourself an edge even if it takes a little longer to get ready.
Check the Background and Set Up the Location Appropriately
If you’re interviewing from your own home, find the right spot that projects a professional image. Your bedroom, where you have an old Twisted Sister poster in the background is not the right place. Any place where there is background noise is also a bad idea. Select an area where there is very little in the background. You want the interviewer to focus on you, not what’s behind your head.
Check the lighting. Sometimes overhead lighting can leave a glare. Have a desktop lamp that you can quickly position in different areas should the interviewer state they are having a problem seeing you.
Pick a good chair and make sure you will be comfortable and your computer is set on a flat, stable spot. You don’t want to be caught squirming around and you don’t want your computer to wobble during the interview. It distracts from you and the information you are trying to share with the hiring company.
Understand You Will Probably Be Recorded
One of the benefits of video interviews is the ability to record the entire thing. The interviewer will be playing back your interview to go over your answers and quite possibly will be comparing your interview to other candidates.
For this reason, it is an absolute necessity to ask if the interviewer can see and hear you well. Ask this question right upfront and just explain that you want to make sure there are no communication issues. It’s at this point that you may need to adjust lighting or move the webcam or something else in order to make sure that your interview is crystal clear.
Practice and Then Practice Some More
Your ultimate goal is to make sure you look good, sound good and project confidence during the interview. But, because video conferences are different and may distort video and audio, it’s extremely important to not only practice, but also record your mock interviews and replay them in order to find those little oddities that need to be adjusted. Here are some things to look for:
- What do you look like? Check your facial expressions and your body language. Make sure you don’t look too stilted or too overly dramatic.
- Check for lag time in your video feed.
- When making eye contact, always look directly at the camera lens. It’s tempting to watch yourself on the screen, but when you do, the interviewer will have the impression that you are not making eye contact.
- Set up a clock behind the camera lens, so you can track how long your answers are and how you are doing on time without being too obvious about it.
- Make sure you are able to read from your notes without being too obvious or too sneaky. Just like you would in a regular interview, glancing at your notes is OK, but reading is definitely not.
- Check your sound quality.
- Center your webcam so that you fill most of the screen. The interviewer should be able to see a little of your background, but you are the star.
- Smile and react as if the interviewer were right in front of you.
- Hold your head up and act confident.
- You should be given directions ahead of time in terms of connecting to their video conference bridge. Make sure to test the connection ahead of time.
One final note: If you have tested your video conferencing and are finding that you have a huge lag time or your video or audio equipment is low quality, it is OK to ask for a phone interview instead. Many people still live in rural areas or don’t have the right equipment. In these cases, it’s better to come across professionally via a telephone call rather than come across unwieldy and spotty in a video conference.
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List of the different interview types:
- The Video Interview
- The Informal Interview
- The Technical Interview
- The Phone Interview
- The Structured Interview
- The Scenario Interview
- The Assessment Event
- The Second Interview
- The Panel Interview
- The Lunch Interview
- The Group Interview
- The Behavioral Interview