Blame it on technology or cost cutting efforts but either way companies are increasingly using video interviews to weed out job candidates.
For some companies it’s used in the beginning stages of the interview process while for others it’s all they’ve got. For job candidates it means they have to be tech savvy and comfortable seeing themselves on video if they want to make a lasting impression.
When it comes to video interviews there are two types: real-time ones in which the job candidate answers live questions from the interviewer and pre-recorded ones where the job candidate is given a list of questions and is expected to give answers via a video recording. While some of the rules differ depending on the type of interview, there are universal ways to ace the video interview. Here’s how.
1. Practice and then practice more
For many of us the thought of doing an interview via video stirs up all sorts of anxieties and insecurities, which is why career experts say you have to record yourself a bunch of times and watch your mock interviews once they are done.
“In general, practicing makes a huge difference in how you come across in a job interview,” says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of job coaching firm Skillful Communications. “With a video interview, it’s even more important, especially if you’re not accustomed to the format.” According to Skillings, practicing will make you feel comfortable on the day of the interview so you can concentrate on the interview questions being thrown your way. “If you are worrying about how to use the technology or how you look, it will only distract you,” she says.
If the interviewer requests you use a specific type of technology to connect make sure to install it ahead of time and be comfortable using it well in advance of the interview.
2. Create the right lighting and background
Regardless of if it’s a live video interview or a recorded one, you want to make sure the hiring manager sees you in the best light possible, which means you want your environment to be neat and void of any distractions like a blaring TV or a child running around in the background. What’s more, Sandy Mazur, division president at Spherion, the staffing company, says the background should be free of any posters or paintings that could distract the interviewer. “The lighting and the background are extremely important to an interview. If the lighting in the room is too dim, it will be hard for the other person to see you,” says Mazur. “Add light and test out different lighting scenarios to ensure that you’re illuminating the room.”
Where you position the camera also matters. Skilling says to make sure your Webcam is set up so it’s just above your eye line. If you have a separate webcam put it above your monitor. If it’s built into your laptop, Skilling says to raise the laptop up a bit. “This shot-slightly-from-above angle is most flattering for everybody,” she says.
3. Dress professional from top to bottom
Since it’s a video interview many people wrongly assume they can dress professionally from the top up and don a pair of jeans or PJs on the bottom. While you will be sitting down for the majority of the interview what if you have to get up to point at something? You don’t want the interviewer to think you aren’t taking the interview seriously or are too lazy to put on a pair of dress pants. “Dress and act as though you are headed to an in-person interview, because the same rules apply,” says Mazur. “Although the video interview may seem more relaxed because it’s done virtually, it is still a regular interview and you should treat it as such. Watch your posture and gestures and make sure that you are speaking clearly for the interviewer to understand what you’re saying.”
Although it may seem strange doing it over video, but Skillings says you want to make sure your making eye contact during the interview. She says the best way to do that via a webcam is to position the window with the image of the person interviewing you as close to the webcam as you can. By doing that when you look at the interviewer you are also looking at the camera and will feel most like natural eye contact to the person on the other side, she says.
4. Be concise
Whether you are doing a live video interview or a recorded one the last thing you want to do is drone on and on and bore your interviewers. That’s why, Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS, the maker of talent acquisition software, says job candidates have to be concise during the video interview. “Ever notice that advertisements are generally on the short side? Well- it is for good reason. Most people have limited attention spans, especially busy people, like job recruiters and hiring managers,” she says. Vitale says to make sure you are providing answers that are long enough to get your points across but also keep the attention of the person interviewing you. “A good guideline for interviews is to make sure it is ping pong match of conversation between you and the interviewer,” she says.