Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Video Job Interview Etiquette

Video job interviews are just as relevant as an in-person interview, but can be more challenging. Preparing and rehearsing for video job interviews is the key to success.

You will need the proper technologies tested and ready, a quiet, well-lit place where you can focus your thoughts, the job description and resume within eyesight, and your interview wardrobe chosen and ready.

Dress for Success: Interview clothing must be professional, not business casual or casual, even though you may be interviewing at home. First impressions occur within a matter of seconds and are lasting. Make sure your clothing is clean and pressed, appropriate for a boardroom presentation (such as a suit and tie, or two-piece skirt suit with blouse), and seasonal. Make sure whatever you wear doesn’t pinch or pull, because you will need to be composed and comfortable.

Grooming: Make sure you are showered, teeth brushed, your hair is fixed in a professional presentation, and your nails clean and manicured. If you wear glasses, make sure they are free of dust and smudges.

Location: The room you choose should be quiet, where you can focus without interruptions. You will need to shut off your cell phone, unplug your landline, and turn off background noises such as TV or radio. If you are using Skype, set your profile to “Busy” or “Away” (and for Webex, “In a meeting”) in order to stop interruptions. Look behind and around where you will be facing the camera, and remove all objects that would not be seen in a meeting or conference room setting. For example, plants are fine, but kids and pets should be kept out of the area. Sit or stand at a distance where your head and shoulders are visible to the other person. Lighting should show your face, not the back of your head, so arrange advantageous lighting. You might want to keep the resume and job description within immediate eyesight, for quick reference.

On-Camera Etiquette: Your job is to present your skills, charm and personality on video, and to engage the other person. Remember all the important interview tactics such as maintaining near-constant eye contact and explaining past experience thoroughly, and with strong examples. Sit forward, keeping your head and shoulders in camera view, and do not lean back. Look at the camera lens, not the screen, in order to engage the other person’s eye contact. Keep feet evenly on the ground and maintain balance (don’t shift your weight too often). Try not to interrupt the other person while they are speaking; sometimes there are slight delays in internet speed, even with the fastest communication technologies. Try to talk in paragraphs, not pages, because your voice can muffle or stretch through technology channels. Act both naturally and professionally, paying attention to what the other person is saying. At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the other person for his or her time.

How to check yourself: Use the video software image of yourself, reduce its size, and then position it on your screen so that it is directly under the camera lens. Take a quick peek at it now and then to be sure you are presenting yourself in the best way possible. (Your occasional glances at the tiny image near the camera lens will not break your eye contact or appear distracting to the other person.)

Testing: Perform a "mini-test run" to work out kinks. Ideally, practice talking to someone else with a computer webcam, so you can see how you project yourself. Be sure to test for sound quality, and if you need to replace computer microphone and/or speakers with a headset, make sure you have time to buy and install one prior to your interview.

Additional Reading:

Video: How to Handle a Job Interiew over Skype, The Wall Street Journal, 2010.
Preparing for a Virtual Job Interview, by “Interview Success Formula.”
Ace Your Virtual Interview Quick Tipsheet, Indiana University Career Development Office.
Hello? Hello!? Preparing for Phone and Skype/Facetime Interviews, University of Pennsylvania, Jamie Grant, 2013.

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