More and more organizations are turning to the video interview today. They can be more practical than in-person job interviewing when travel is involved and the list of qualified candidates is long.
For job seekers, video interviews also allow for a personal and visual interaction with a potential boss without investing much time and money.
However, just because a video interview doesn’t take place in a traditional setting doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. Robert Half Finance & Accounting surveyed managers who recounted awkward moments when interviewing applicants online for accounting and finance jobs. One described a job seeker who was eating breakfast during the video interview. Another said the interviewee was playing video games in the background.
Find more of these video interview bloopers by flipping through this SlideShare:
So what's a job seeker to do? Prepare. Here are our top five tips to make your next video interview a smash hit:
1. Treat a video interview as if you were there
There’s no reason to approach a video interview differently than you would an in-person interview. In fact, if you treat them the same, you may set yourself apart from other candidates who let their preparation slide because the interview is not in-person. So engage those interview skills, get a good night’s sleep and make sure you’re hydrated.
Set aside time beforehand to prepare and afterward to debrief. Research the company, its projects and the people who will interview you. Know how you’ll answer tough interview questions, and what questions you’ll ask the interviewers. By treating a video interview like an in-person one, you will show the employer you take the job opportunity seriously.
2. Dress for the interview, from head to toe
“I can wear sweatpants!” should not be your first reaction when you’re asked to do a video interview. Interview attire doesn’t change just because your meeting is virtual. It might be tempting to wear comfy jeans or yoga pants with your sharp blazer or blouse, but don’t do it. If you need to stand up, you’re toast.
More importantly, dressing professionally from head to toe will help get you into the interview mindset. If you’re wearing slippers, you might be tempted to think about what you’re going to have for dinner or what’s on Netflix. If you’re wearing your office-appropriate loafers or heels, it will be easier to keep focused on what the employer is asking you.
3. Test your technology ahead of time
Just because you've used Skype with your friends doesn't mean you're ready for prime time. If you haven't used the video platform that will be used for the interview, download it well in advance. Make sure your camera and microphone work well.
Do a trial run, if possible, at least 24 hours before the interview, so you have ample time to adjust if any of your equipment or software isn’t working properly.
4. Create and check your interview space
Video interviews require a professional setting, even if they take place in your home. Make sure your interview space is well lit and welcoming, that you can sit comfortably, and that you won’t be interrupted by passersby, roommates, pets or family members. A private room with a closed door and no distractions is optimal.
Avoid setting up your computer too close to a window, if possible. The lighting might be perfect at the start of the interview, but as the sun’s position changes, you could find yourself dealing with an unwanted glare.
Also, before the interview starts, turn off your phones, tablets and television, and open a new browser window for the video interview. Close down Facebook, email and any other windows that might sound alerts or show on-screen notifications.
5. Look at the camera
If you’re using an external camera, angle it so you’re face-to-face; you don’t want to be staring up or down at the interviewer. And remember to make “eye contact.” That means looking into the camera when you’re speaking, not at the person’s image on your screen.
Watch the video below for even more video interview tips.
Remember to say thank-you
Follow up after the video interview just as you would for an in-person one. Strong follow-ups are courteous, grateful, immediate and focused on thanking the employer for the job interview, reconfirming your interest in the position. This is a chance to add a personal touch to the interview process, so try referencing an enjoyable or insightful part of the interview.
Robert Half has been helping job seekers find great career opportunities since 1948. Enlist our recruiters to find the right job for you.
Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect current information.