Article

10 tips for video conference interviewing

Authored by Laura Fries

As we embrace our new reality of working remotely, video conferencing has become an essential component of the modern business world. It is being used more often to interview job candidates, whether they are across town or across the country. According to Forbes, video conferencing is taking over audio conferencing and phone interviewing. As we look to the future of what work will look like, the prediction is that we will be working from home more often. Being on top of your video conferencing game, whether you use it for meetings or for interviews, will be increasingly important because it is becoming a part of our new normal.

Video conference interviewing is different than an in-person meeting, and there are different expectations and etiquette you must be familiar with in order to present yourself in the most favorable light. Here are ten considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to interview or be interviewed.

  1. Establish whether the conference call is an audio call or a video call.
    Sounds easy enough, right? It is not always clear by looking at the invitation. If you are the interview organizer, state whether the interview will be conducted using video or audio in the subject line of the calendar invitation. If you receive an invitation and are unsure of how the interview will be conducted, send a separate email from your acceptance response to the organizer to clarify how the conferencing technology will be used.
  2. Choose a clean and simple background, free of distractions.
    Whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, if you plan to conduct the interview from home, there is an opportunity for the other individual to learn many personal things about you – from your taste in artwork to what kind of pets you have. Keep your backdrop simple. Choose to sit in front of a white wall or a bookshelf with neatly organized books. Make sure your chair, desk or table are simple and clear of excess papers and personal items. Let the people (and pets) in your life know what is happening, how important it is, and ask them to stay well away from where you will conduct the interview. If distracting noises happen, mute yourself if you are not speaking at the moment.
  3. Lighting is everything.
    Have you noticed that TV and film directors say, “Lights, camera, action!” Well it is no coincidence that “lights” comes first in that phrase. Poor lighting conditions have an enormous effect on video quality and on the impression you make. You’ll want to make sure there is enough light in the room so you do not appear grainy. Do not light your face from below or above – these angles cast harsh shadows on your face. Avoid sitting in front of a window so that you are not backlit. When you are backlit, the other individual cannot see your face. Try to light your face from the sides, which will make you look your best. Consider setting up lighting on the side of your laptop or webcam in a location that is just off camera.  Test the lighting by doing a dry run with a friend or family member ahead of time, but make sure you do this at about the same time of day that the interview will be conducted.
  4. Frame the camera correctly and make eye contact. 
    We have all been on video calls where we are looking at the ceiling or at someone’s forehead. Adjust your camera position to allow you to look directly into the camera. Sit in a straight-backed chair at eye-level to the lens to maintain proper posture. You want to present yourself as a television news anchor does. This allows the other individual to see your facial expressions. Try to position yourself so the camera shows you from the midsection up. This allows the interviewer to see more of your body language. As tempting as it may be, don’t fixate on your own picture. This gives the impression that you are not making eye contact. Instead, minimize your own picture and look directly into the camera. If possible, use a laptop versus your smart phone or tablet. These handheld devices sometimes catch awkward angles and don’t allow you to express yourself with your hands while speaking.
  5. Steer clear of technical difficulties by practicing ahead of time. 
    Run a practice session with someone willing to help so you know how to access the mute and video features. You do not want to waste the other person’s time while you hunt around to turn on your camera and unmute yourself. This may come as a surprise, but the internet is not foolproof. Test your internet connection to make sure it works properly with video streaming. An added benefit of testing the video call is that the interviewer is given the impression that you are competent with office technology.
  6. Dress for success.
    Although you might be conducting this interview in a more casual setting, you must wear appropriate and professional clothing. Avoid stripes or hounds tooth type patterns because they read like a strobe light on camera. It is best to wear dark colors with accents of color in a tie or a ladies blouse under a suit jacket. For a polished look, steal a tip from news anchors and sit on the back of your suit jacket so the front lays smooth against your body. You may be tempted to dress professionally on top and wear jeans on the bottom, but you should resist. You would be surprised at how many technological issues or interruptions can happen even if you are totally prepared. You may have to get up from your chair briefly to correct these. The camera will catch everything. Dress to impress, just like you would for an in-person interview.
  7. Prepare ahead of time.
    Just like an in-person interview, both the candidate and the interviewer need to be prepared. Have a copy of the resume, the job description, and your notes about the company and the role in front of you. Whether you are the interviewer or the candidate, make sure you have the questions you want to ask written down and in front of you during the interview.
  8. Be on time.
    Actually, be a few minutes early. If you log into the call a couple minutes early, you will be ready to begin the interview when the organizer begins the video conference. This bit of etiquette is every bit as applicable as with an in-person interview. Punctuality and preparedness are always noted by the interviewer.
  9. Be appropriately enthusiastic.  
    Sometimes people can come across as expressionless in video interviews. Whether it is because of unfamiliarity with the technology or general nervousness about the interview, try to avoid this. Make an effort to smile and act as pleasant and upbeat as possible.
  10. Pay attention.  
    If you have multiple screens, clear them of all distractions and other applications. Do not have your cell phone close by. Obviously, you want to be completely present for the interview. You do not want to be distracted by a phone call, text message or by a new email delivered to your mailbox.

As mentioned throughout these tips, practicing cannot be emphasized enough. A trial run before the actual interview will help you work out many unknowns that could sabotage the interview. When you know things went well in the practice session, you will have that much more confidence when it counts!

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly search and staffing specialists can help, contact our team.

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