By Gerald Walsh ©
More and more interviews, especially initial ones, are being conducted via Skype or Zoom or some other video platform. For employers, it’s a quick, low-cost way to screen candidates. Usually, if the video interview goes well, you will be invited for a face-to-face meeting.
Let’s recap what you should do to prepare for a video interview:
1. Dress the part.
On camera, certain patterns or colours can affect picture quality and be distracting to the viewer. You should avoid stripes and small patterns. Similarly, white shirts when worn with a black or dark suit can make you look washed out.
2. Organize your surroundings.
I’ve interviewed people whose computer was in their bedroom and there was an unmade bed behind them. Another person put his dog outside before the interview but the dog barked at the door throughout the entire interview. If possible, choose a clean, uncluttered background and eliminate any distracting objects or noises.
3. Use appropriate lighting to look your best.
Overhead lighting or light from behind you will tend to wash out your face. The best type of lighting is natural light on your face. If you don’t have natural light, use a small lamp to illuminate your face.
4. Use decent equipment.
Even though your computer may have a built-in microphone, you should try to use a headset to improve your voice volume and clarity and avoid distracting background noises. Similarly, you should invest in an external webcam to improve picture quality. Prices range from about $30 to several hundred dollars.
5. Test your internet connection.
Make sure you have strong internet connection so there are no breaks or delays during the interview. And always get the interviewer’s telephone number. That way you can call them immediately if there is a technical glitch of any sort.
6. Look at the camera, not yourself.
If you are using a laptop, elevate it so that the camera is at eye level. During the interview, keep your eyes focused on the camera so it appears you are looking at the interviewer.
7. Don’t be checking your email.
The interviewer can see you and it’s obvious what you are doing. The best practice is to close out all other programs on your computer so you won’t be tempted at all.
8. First impressions count.
Make sure your Skype username and profile picture present you in a professional way. Please: no pictures of pets or inappropriate images. If you want, you can always create a second Skype account for friends and family.
Talking into a computer screen will feel awkward but a few rehearsals should ease those concerns. You will learn how to use the technology and how to present yourself professionally.
A final tip: If you are not already a Skype or Zoom user, commit to setting up an account over the next few days and testing it with a friend or family member so you know how it works. I can think of several times when I had a planned video interview set up with a candidate but they hadn’t bothered to figure it out beforehand. The result was they missed their interview and did not leave a favourable impression at all.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.