How to Have a Successful Skype or Video Job Interview

By Paul Michael on 15 May 2017 0 comments

We all had a good laugh over the British journalist being upstaged by his kids while trying to give a BBC video interview. All laughs aside, it did bring up an important subject: How do you conduct a great video interview for a new job?

It's now possible to interview for positions all over the country, if not the world, using modern technology. It's also easy to get distracted or interrupted. If you're getting ready to jump online for your next interview, follow these steps for success.

1. Clean up the area

It's imperative that you have everything you need at hand before starting the video interview, including a clean home office. Organize your workspace thoroughly, clean the desk, and tidy up the room. You may look the part, but a messy, disorganized background can send red flags to the interviewer.

If you really don't have the time or ability to clean up the space behind you, consider a backdrop. Something as simple as a plain bedsheet (nothing patterned or "loud") hung from the ceiling can work. Black or gray works best, but as long as it doesn't distract, it will do the job.

2. Look directly into the camera

This cannot be emphasized enough — the camera lens should be treated like the eyes of the person interviewing you. If you don't focus your attention there, you're not making eye contact with the interviewer, and that can come across just as rude as if you were doing it face-to-face.

There are a few steps you can take to make this easier. First, you could place something next to the camera, like a bright sticky note (you can even draw eyes on it as a reminder). Throughout the interview, that will prompt you to focus your gaze there.

Another option is to turn off the webcam preview that shows you what your interviewer is looking at — you. It's in our nature to look at ourselves, and when we see that little window with our picture in it, our eyes immediately wander there. By turning that off, you'll be much more inclined to look at the camera.

3. Go to the bathroom first

It may sound like a no-brainer, but before you know it, you're shifting in your seat five minutes into a one-hour interview. This is not good. Not only will the interviewer pick up on how uncomfortable you are, but it will totally hamstring your performance. You won't be able to think clearly, your responses will be rushed, and you might even start sweating.

Do yourself a favor: Go to the bathroom beforehand, even if you're not feeling the need. And don't drink a lot of water right before you start.

4. Keep the interview room off-limits

If there's one thing we can take from the poor journalist being interrupted by his kids, it's that he should have found a way to secure the room. If you have the ability to lock the door, do it. If you don't, consider putting a bolt on the door, or use something to block the entrance (as long as it isn't showing on camera).

Take it a step further and ask the people you live with if they'd be willing to step out of the house when the interview is scheduled. Even if the room is secured, noises from outside the room can still be very distracting. Ideally, you want a quiet room in an empty house.

5. Do your homework

Just like any other interview, you need to have your ducks in a row. With a video interview, your facial expressions are actually more apparent, because that is all the interviewer will be focusing on. So, when you're stumped on a question, or struggling to find a reply, it will really show.

To avoid that, spend time studying the company. Prepare a series of questions to ask the interviewer. Do a practice run with a friend or colleague. Make sure you know as much as you possibly can, and then, practice a great response for questions that really will stump you.

6. Check the equipment thoroughly

Any time anyone does something live, they fear gremlins in the works. Technological glitches are common, and they can happen to anyone. Life being what it is, they often happen at the worst possible times.

So, do everything you can to test your equipment thoroughly the day before the interview. Make sure the camera is working, and focused. Check the microphone. Check the sound levels. Check the cables. Do a test run, record yourself, and play it back. By doing this a day before, you give yourself plenty of time to fix the issues without risking missing your interview.

7. Dress for success

A video interview is no excuse to wear casual clothing and look like you've just gotten out of bed. This is not a phone interview. You are presenting yourself to your potential employer, and you want to look the part.

That means dressing for the occasion, and that can differ between industries. If you're in a corporate career, you'll need to dress for business. If it's a more creative profession, you can obviously be a little less formal, but you'll still need to look the part. And of course, you need to look fresh and camera-worthy. Hair, makeup, clean teeth, clean nails, the works. Treat this just like you'd treat a regular interview, and give yourself plenty of time to get ready.

8. Remember you're on camera

The interviewer can see you, and you can see them. But if you're sitting in front of a computer that doubles for your personal use, it can be easy to forget, and slip into a more comfortable position. Gradually, you may start to slouch, scratch your nose (or pick it … disaster), divert eye contact, or even start flicking through messages on your phone.

If these things happened in a face-to-face meeting, you'd be hard pressed to finish the interview. You'd have blown it. It's just the same over video chat. The interviewer will feel insulted and disrespected, and you will have blown any chance of a follow up. If it helps, put a sign next to the camera that says "Smile, you're on camera!" It may sound silly, but it really makes a difference.

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