Job interviews can be daunting – especially if your prospective employer wants to conduct the interview via video conference. If you’re not accustomed to video, you may feel a bit awkward in front of the camera. Technical troubles can also be an issue. The bad news is that, in this day and age, job seekers probably can’t avoid video job interviews. Employers see them as a way to quickly and economically conduct interviews, while still benefiting from the “face-to-face” communication that’s just not possible with a phone interview. The good news is that with these tips and a little practice, you can ace your next video job interview.
Test your tech
First, make sure you know which video conferencing technology your prospective employer prefers (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, etc.) and make sure you’re comfortable with the user interface.
A day before the interview, do a run-through. Use the same software and set up your laptop and camera just as you would for the interview. Then, test it by doing a quick video conference with a friend or family member. Doing this trial run well in advance of the actual interview gives you time to troubleshoot any software or hardware issues.
Whenever possible, use a headset with a microphone rather than relying on the built-in mic in your laptop. The mic in your computer is designed to pick up audio from the entire room. If you use it, you’ll get an echo from the sound coming out of your laptop and also pick up any other sounds in the room. Investing less than $20 in a basic USB headset will dramatically improve the audio quality.
Ideally, you should conduct the interview from your laptop or desktop computer, not on a phone or tablet. If you must use a mobile device, prop it somewhere secure rather than holding it during the interview. No matter how you try, the screen will appear shaky if it’s in your hands.
Finally, plus in your laptop or device rather than relying on battery power. The last thing you want is to lose power in the middle of your interview.
Set the stage
Once you feel comfortable with your technology setup, consider the background the interviewer will see while talking to you. Think of your camera as a window into your home or office. Make sure there are no piles of laundry or stacks of paperwork cluttering your background.
A clean background, such as a plain wall or a tidy office-like setting is ideal. Remember, a distraction-free environment makes it easier for the interviewer to focus on you.
Lighting also deserves some attention. Many offices rely on a single, overhead fluorescent light as their sole light source. This is a terrible set up for a video job interview, as it casts unflattering shadows on your face. Likewise, having a window or other light source behind you doesn’t work. Your entire background will be illuminated while your face is just a dark shadow on screen.
Whenever possible, set up your location to have natural light coming from behind your camera.
Dress the part
Even if the camera only shows you from the shoulders up, dress professionally – from your accessories to shoes – just as you would for an in-person interview. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, you never know if you’ll have a reason to stand up. You don’t want the interviewer to see you wearing a button-down shirt and jacket with pajama pants. Second, dressing professionally from head to toe can also impact your mindset and even your physical performance.
A video job interview carries just as much weight as an in-person job interview. Make sure that you’re well-prepared to answer questions, tell stories that demonstrate your fit for the position. Also, remember to ask questions of your potential employer. The better prepared you are for your video job interview, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel on the big day and the easier it will be to make a great first impression.
If you’re ready to put your job interview skills to the test, check out our infographic for the Top Accounting & Finance Jobs for 2019.