Interviews are daunting to begin with, without someone having the bright idea of shoving a camera in your face. I mean, really? We’re not all Miley Cyrus.
As awkward as it might seem for job-seekers, video interviews are fast becoming the norm thanks to the affordability, convenience and ease with which interviewers can compare and review candidates. Employers don’t even have to be on the other end anymore – recorded interviews just send you a questionnaire and you have to ‘Miley Cyrus’ it alone.
But what if we told you that video interviews are good for you as well? Think about it: There’s no stress about arriving late due to traffic or the expense of travelling to another city. It’s also pretty comforting to do at home, where you can practise by recording yourself answering common interview questions and then assessing your performance beforehand.
So what do you need to do to make a video interview a good interview? Here are four tips.
1. Advanced planning
Video interviews are still interviews. They’re just high-tech. And that makes it all the more important to plan ahead.
First, make sure you know how the equipment works. You don’t want to share your screen while you’re Googling your cat’s fur balls. And at the end of the interview, you want to be certain you’ve cut off your video feed before you start undoing the top button of your pants.
Next, send your written material through to the interviewers ahead of time – trying to send info during the interview is a waste of time and shows a lack of forward thinking.
Plan what will go on in your environment during the interview. A kids’ pool party with seven of your six-year-old’s closest friends is not the best idea; especially not with three noisy dogs playing along. Make sure everybody around you knows not to disturb you during the interview – better yet, send the kids to a friend or ask someone to take care of the pets.
2. Make it look good
This is the part where you put on a show. Dress like a professional – top and bottom. Don’t overdo the make-up, but make sure you don’t shine; it’ll make you look nervous.
Keep your back upright – no slouching. Try positioning the camera just above your hairline. This will help you maintain your posture and keep your face tilted to the most flattering angle.
Just like in an on-camera performance, lighting is vital. Make sure your face and shoulders are well-lit – it’s no good looking like a dodgy salesman. Clean the camera lens too. And make sure you stay looking this good by activating the picture-in-picture function on-screen.
Now look at the space behind you. Is it a rainbow of colours and complex patterns? As boring as it may sound, bland and simple is better for the technology. The bolder and busier the scene, the more bandwidth and computer power is used to transmit the picture to the other side – potentially hampering the smoothness of your interview transmission.
3. Smile and wave, boys
One thing Miley does get right is smiling... you know, when she’s not sticking her tongue out and twerking. This isn’t easy when you’re talking to a machine, but smiling (except when it’s creepy-stalker smiling) demonstrates that you are friendly and approachable.
In a face-to-face interview, you’d probably nod and “mm-hmm” along with the interviewer as well – it’s called ‘active listening’. Make sure you do this in the video interview too. With sometimes imperfect technology and the lack of physical cues that you would get in a personal interview, it helps to reassure the person that you’re paying attention.
Eye contact is another thing you’d get more of in an in-person interview. But the position of computer screens relative to web cameras makes you appear to be looking downwards. Try looking directly at the camera as much as you can. Not only is this a good way to give the interviewer a sense of connection, but it gives you another opportunity as well... “cheating”.
4. Cheat like a winner
One of the best things about video interviewing is the fact that there’s a lot of space your interviewers can’t see – like the wall directly behind your computer screen. Say, just above the camera, where you’ll be looking to give your interviewer the impression of eye contact. That space is ideal for
crib-notes supportive information. Just a thought. Use it; don’t use it.
Video interviewing may be daunting, but if you work it right you can use it to your advantage.