Job interviews can be stressful already — and then sometimes, to add to the nervousness, they happen over Skype. The interviewer’s impression won’t depend just on your personality, but also in how well you present on video—which is a very different skill than being great in person.
Video is a tough way to make a first impression, but a first impression it definitely is: video interviews are likely to be the first step in a process, and will help determine whether you get a second interview.
That’s why it pays to get it right. We’ve written about how to look good on video before, and here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind as you approach the interview strategically.
A video interview may be the first interaction you’ve had with the company other than hitting “Submit” on the official application page.
Being expressive and open can make all a difference. As emotive as you think you’re being on camera, you might still be coming across as “flat.” Add some personal expression by remembering to smile, appear comfortable, confident and well-versed on both the company and what you bring to the table.
Practice with a friend as you prepare for the interview so you’re used to talking to someone else about your experience.
Choose your space carefully
Keep the employer’s attention on you, not what’s going on in the background.
“You may think the only thing the people on the other end of a video interview can see is your face, but they will see some of your surroundings too, Palmer says. ‘The room that you are in should look neat and attractive and not be visually distracting. You also need to avoid any auditory distractions such as a barking dog or a crying child.’ Also be sure to turn off the ringers of all the phones in the area.
‘Mistakes we’ve seen include video interviews recorded in a coffee shop with a very noisy background or in a bedroom with dirty laundry scattered on the floor,’ says Michael Yinger, Aon Hewitt’s global lead for recruitment process outsourcing delivery. ‘We’ve seen interviewees dressed in a robe and children playing in the vicinity. We’ve also seen a partially clad spouse running behind the person recording the interview,’” the article says.
As adorable as his daughter is, you probably don’t be this person on a video conference call.
The best interview of 2017. Hands down. 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/ugUdcHzjpV
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 10, 2017
Check your video and audio ahead of time
A video interview has technical elements that you have to set up and test beforehand. Making sure the video and audio are working is a basic requirement. Don’t wait until the last minute to test the lighting, either.
A Fast Company article provides advice from Adam Robinson, cofounder and CEO of hiring management software platform Hireology.
“Once you know the platform you’re going to use, be sure you practice using it before the actual interview. Whether it’s Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout, or another platform, be sure it’s downloaded and operational on your computer. Load or login time may take longer for some than others and you don’t want to be in a panicked scramble trying to figure it out in the minutes before your interview,” the magazine advises.
Timing is everything
A U.S. News & World Report article sheds light on the important of pacing your interview. Much video interviewing happens on Skype or Google Hangouts, where connections may pause, cut out, or be slow. There will be strange gaps that would never exist in a one-on-one conversation. Make sure your interviewer has completely finished their question before you start.
“Time is of the essence. Be mindful of how long you take to respond to questions, whether in a two-way interview or a one-way interview. Many video interview tools have time limits for each question so be precise, but answer questions with sufficient detail. There is no do-over in an interview,” it says.
Come fully dressed and pick the right color of clothing
Don’t just professionally dress your top half. A suit jacket with boxers or yoga shorts is just not going to cut it.
What if construction unexpectedly starts outside and you have to move to another room? Don’t give the company any chances to see you in clothes you wouldn’t wear to work there. Good clothes will also help you get more “in the zone” for the interview.
Business Insider points out what not to wear during a virtual interview— including white.
“Whites are brighter on camera and may overpower your face, making eye contact virtually impossible. Colors that look best on camera include deep colors such as navy, and solids should always be selected over prints,” the article says.