Businesses have been using video interviews to screen candidates ever since they became available. In the last decade, this job interview method has gone mainstream on video chat software such as Skype, HireVue, Zoom, and RingCentral, to name a few. This post explains several of the top online video interview tips for job seekers.
Why an Online Video Interview?
This video interview method is a candidate screening tactic, often used when companies want the chance to meet possible future employees outside of their immediate location.
A video interview is particularly useful in a global business environment for people looking to relocate, or in extreme situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak, when companies find it wiser to avoid working with others in an office for health reasons. As part of the screening process, the online video interview usually replaces a phone screening or in-person interview.
At first glance, you may think, “Great! I can interview from home!” However, the communication styles between “video” and “in-person” interviews are very different. There are many things you must consider in order to make a professional impression without the usage of eye contact or body language.
Create Your Professional Setting
Before your next video interview, turn on your video camera and test what the interviewer is going to see. Be hypercritical of your appearance. Remove any and all distracting items that will take the focus off “you”.
As you look at yourself in the camera, start to ask yourself these questions:
- Will they see a personal object of mine I don’t want or need them to see?
- How do I appear on camera? Is there anything I should clean up?
- Are there strange things in the background that may raise an eyebrow or two?
If it is not related to business, remove it from the view of the camera. By now, you may be realizing you are “setting up the shot of your next video interview”. This may sound like a vain approach, but they will only have a talking 2D image of you. If you appear to be someone who is not taking care of him/herself, it will reflect on the interviewer’s opinion of you.
Clean up Your Audio and Video Quality
You are interviewing for a professional position, and therefore, you should have professional audio and video quality. This is all about your professional image and sound. Improve the video and audio quality of your interview with the following:
Fast Internet connection with an upload/download speed of at least 50 Mbps
Prevents your call from cutting out, freezing or dropping completely.
Invest in a USB mic, for example, a Samson mic or podcast mic, at a very low price
The improved audio quality will allow the interviewer to hear you clearly. You will sound better, too. Laptop mics are usually located near the speaker and sound terrible. Don’t worry about the cost of a mic. You will use it for many interviews and they last a very long time, even when you buy new computers.
Invest in a quality USB camera
- When you want to look your best to a complete stranger, a grainy image from a laptop camera will not do the trick. Consider investing in a quality camera that shows a clean and crisp image of you.
Make Sure You Are in a Quiet Place
Audio distractions can be silenced by making sure all social media notifications, phones, alarms, etc. are turned off. However, you cannot stop cars from honking or residual noise from outside, especially if you live in a metropolitan area.
Video distractions happen, so think about this example. There was a famous incident in March 2017. A BBC interview with a professor was disrupted by his daughter walking in the background. At that point, the image of this person’s work location changed from “office” to “what he must deal with working at home”.
If for some reason the professional image of your interview is broken, do not panic. If it becomes obvious that there is a distraction in the room, handle it with a cool and calm demeanor. After all, you want to be viewed as someone who stays cool under pressure. Things happen. How you respond to adversity says a great deal about you.
Dress Like It's an In-Person Interview
Studies have shown companies are more judgmental of appearances on video because they are without the benefits of seeing a person’s body language or direct eye contact.
In addition to this, video interviews are often used as a screening method to see if an in-person interview is necessary. Therefore, how you present yourself in the video interview will most likely determine if they want to meet you in-person. The trick is...Dress like you would for an in-person interview!
If this all sounds like too much, ask yourself these simple questions:
- If you were hiring any employee, would you want to meet a candidate in person, who interviewed in his/her bathrobe or pajamas?
- Or would you rather meet the person who seems to dress appropriately for interviews, has a clean office, and presents him/herself with a professional image, even though they were at home?
Keep Answers Short and Sweet
Video interviews have the potential to be really boring. Interviews in-person are more engaging because of things like body language and eye contact between the interviewer and job candidate. When you remove this, the potential for losing a person’s attention sets in for both parties.
The last thing you want to do is make the people at the office sleepy. Therefore, because you are at home and they are sitting in an office looking at you on a screen, it is best to make your video interviews short and sweet.
Communicating on Video Matters
The ultimate goal of your video interview is to make sure the company cannot wait to meet you in-person. On a grand scale, companies in the USA are thinking globally.
The United States is now responsible for 84% of the world’s media and everyone with a camera on their phone has the potential to be a freelance video journalist. Positive company image is something companies know will influence sales and growth. They want employees who have a worldly understanding of “professional image”.
They will get a great idea of how you professionally present yourself by your communication style on video. Your ability to communicate your awareness of image surely will make you an attractive employee. Your awareness of what others will be concerned about, and addressing such concerns proactively, will go a long way to show a company you can be a trusted employee.