The video interview: Few things in the professional world are as indispensable—or as dreaded.
Stories abound of candidates who decide to interview from the bathroom or inadvertently angle the camera so there’s a great view of their nose hairs.
But it doesn’t have to be a disaster. Let’s break down the experience so you can nail your next video interview.
Forget the cluttered wall of photos behind your desk or the bookcase with a potted plant in the corner. In the world of the video interview, anything extra is a distraction.
The focus of the interview should be you. Sit in front of a blank wall or another simple background. Bonus: a clean backdrop ensures that everything visible is 100% appropriate. No bikini shots from your last vacation, please!
And make sure the lighting in the room is bright and flattering. A light right over your head will have a spotlight effect, casting shadows that can make your face look ghoulish. Instead, set up floor lamps around the room.
Dress like an employee
Our culture has gone more casual, but an interview (whether it’s in person or via video link) is not be the time to join in.
Dress the part, from head to toe. If you wear makeup, apply it with a light touch for the camera. Avoid wearing oversized jewelry.
Again, the name of the game in interviewing is to draw attention to you, not your clothing.
Eyes and expression are everything
It might be tempting to check your look in the thumbnail window in the corner of the screen or to focus on the screen image of your interviewer the whole time, but don’t do either.
Looking at the camera lens is the digital equivalent of making eye contact. When you look at the screen, it seems like you’re looking away. Disable the view of yourself and look at the camera whenever you’re speaking.
And smile! A thoughtful expression in person may appear disinterested on camera. Keep your expression open and nod in response to questions to give your interviewers visual cues that you’re engaged and listening.
Practice, practice, practice
No matter how good your setup, the technological nature of the video interview is still weird.
Practice with someone ahead of time so you appear confident and look like yourself. A friend or family member can give you feedback about how you’re behaving in front of the camera.
Are you speaking too loudly or softly? Are you making distracting hand gestures? Gather all this feedback and practice until you’re comfortable and confident.
Get familiar with the tech
No one wants an otherwise great conversation interrupted by tech problems. But in today’s technological world, it’s to be expected.
Minimize tech glitches by doing some reconnaissance work.
Set up the camera ahead of time so it frames your head and shoulders. Know how to mute and unmute the conversation. Practice with the platform you’ll be using, such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom, to make sure you’re familiar with it.
If you detect problems that are out of your control during the interview, let your interviewers know right away.
Use the camera to your advantage
Since your interviewers can only see your face, you can use the space around you for notes and questions without calling too much attention to it.
Keep your notes right in front of you. Tape key points to a wall behind the camera. Make sure everything can be easily scanned so you can glance at your notes and return your gaze to the camera right away.
Skyping is a new skill, relatively speaking. Take it on with the kind of dedication you give to the rest of your work and you’ll be able to present yourself as professionally as you would in person.