Video Interview Preparation
In the last few posts we talked about doing phone interviews. Now let's move on to the video interview.
But before we begin, a comment I received from a writing colleague/visitor to my link to this post on LinkedIn raised an important point. These tips for doing interviews apply to more than job seekers. Often writers are called upon to do phone or video interviews to prepare for stories they are writing. Or you may need to work with clients remotely. Although most writers prefer face-to-face interview opps, sometimes phone or video interviews are our only options.
With that said, if you are a writer or business owner or just need to communicate remotely - whatever the reason, you will also find these tips useful.
Tools for the interview
You can conduct a video interview on a laptop with a webcam, a traditional computer with a webcam, or using the Skype app.Even though the interview is being conducted by webcam, this is a “real” live interview, and you should be as prepared as if you were sitting across the desk from the interviewer. In fact, you may have to prepare more! After all, you do not have to clean your room before going off to an in-person job interview, but you do need to clear a space for your Skype interview. Here are some tips:
- Be mindful of where you set up for your video interview. Be sure the area is free of visual distractions (clutter). Carefully consider what is in the background of your Skype interview. Make the background interesting, but not distracting. Plain white walls are fine, but boring. Can you frame a desk or bookshelves behind you instead?
- Check out your technology well in advance of the interview. Make sure you have Internet connectivity and that your webcam and microphone are working. You may also have to download the software if it is the first time you are using the application.
Practice makes perfect
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a live video interview is practice. Practice doing a couple of Skype interviews with friends or family members before your job interview. Be sure to:
- Check the lighting and your volume.
- As with a phone interview, recording your practice video interview can help you identify areas to work on, or fix. Have your test partner take a few screenshots if you cannot record the call.
- Make sure your webcam is providing a decent picture.
- Clarify with the interviewer who will initiate the Skype call and double-check the username. Also be sure to account for any time zone differences.
Other Video Interview Tips:
- Dress nicely — more than one jobseeker has scheduled a Skype interview, thinking it would be voice only — and then accidentally found himself or herself on a video Skype call.
- Dress from head-to-toe. You may think you do not need to wear dress pants with the shirt and tie since the interviewer is only going to see the top half of your outfit. But you should always expect the unexpected. You never know when you might need to stand during an interview. Pajama pants or shorts with a dress shirt, tie, and jacket just do not work.
- Keep your clothing color choice in mind. Check how the colors of your clothing appear on camera. Just like TV news anchors avoid some colors — and most small patterns, pick colors that will show up well on video. Jewel tones or pastel colors work best. Do not wear white or black.
- Practice your Skype interview wearing the exact outfit you are planning to wear. This trial run will also allow you to test the volume of your system, see how the software works (if you are not familiar with Skype), and make sure your lighting is appropriate.
- Check the lighting.If the light source is behind you, you may appear as a dark silhouette on the screen. Position a lamp or other light source in front of you.Ensure that your profile photo is professional. This is your first impression from a physical standpoint in a video conference.
- Prop up the computer so that you are not looking down at it and practice where to sit so you are framed correctly by the webcam. Make sure your torso is visible — including your hands — especially if you “talk” with your hands.
- Look at the webcam when you speak, not at the interviewer’s face on your screen. When you look into the camera, it appears to the interviewer that you are looking at them directly.
- Use a USB-connected headset for an interview instead of using the computer’s speakers. Headsets are inexpensive and can provide a much clearer interview experience.
- Use a wired Internet connection (plug directly into the Ethernet port) instead of using a wireless connection.
- Check your power source and be ready for emergencies. You do not want to have to dig for a cord to keep the computer from shutting down.
- Turn off notifications on your computer and close your other software programs. You do not want to be distracted by beeps every time you receive an email.
- Pay attention, be enthusiastic and SMILE!
- Take notes, butdo not take too many, or you will come off looking distracted. Take notes with a pen and paper, not on your computer.
- If you have an online portfolio, keep the link handy. You may want to share it with your interviewer.
Now that was a great list of things you SHOULD DO, but before we wrap up, here are a few things that you definitely SHOULD NOT DO:
- Choose a cutesy or unprofessional Skype name — no nicknames and minimize numbers and keyboard characters. Online, your first impression is your Skype username and photo, so make sure both are professional. Your best bet is your first name and last name as your username.
- Forget to verify the timing of your Skype interview — taking in account any time zone differences.
- Be too quick to answer. With video, there is sometimes a delay or interference, so make sure you pause before answering a question to avoid overtalking the interviewer.
- Forget to silence your cell phone when you are on a video interview.
That wraps up this segment on virtual interviews. Good luck with your interviewing and contact us with your questions! We'll see you next time...