Make Sure You Do Everything Right to Prevent Disasters During Your Next Video Job Interview

Modern technology can help you in your job search, but it can also give a bad impression

How to Make Sure Your Job Interview via Skype, FaceTime, or Other Video is Successful
Image: Pexels
November 16, 2018

More and more employers are finding that the video interviews are a valuable tool to conduct interviews with prospective employees. Job seekers like it, too, because they don't have to travel across town or the country. But you want to make sure you do it right, or you can find yourself without the job.

  1. Think of yourself as being at the employer's office.
  2. If you're being interviewed via video, you're probably using a personal device and probably in a comfortable spot, such as your home office or some other place that you're used to. But don't get too comfortable. You don't want the interviewer to see you slouching, looking around the room, or scrolling through emails and text messages. Treat a video interview the same way you'd treat an ordinary interview.

  3. Don't conduct the interview in a public place.
  4. Unless you have absolutely no choice, such as when your Internet goes down or if you have spotty phone service, you don't want to be in a public place. So this means that your favorite coffee shop is off limits. No interviewer wants to be distracted by people moving around behind you or by loud noises that can make you hard to hear. You should probably avoid conducting the interview at your current employer's place of business. You don't want to look like a slacker or someone who is taking advantage of the employer.

    If you can't do the interview at home because of tech issues, try to borrow the home of a friend or family member. There will likely be much less potential for distraction. If your employer will allow you to use the office, make sure to mention this early in the interview. The interviewer will likely think better of you if you say that your employer was gracious and allowed you to come in and use the space and Internet. It skirts over the whole current employer issue and makes you seem like you have a good employer-employee relationship.

  5. The interview room and space is off-limits.
  6. When you're interviewing, you don't want any unexpected surprises. If the room has a door, lock it. If the door doesn't lock, make sure everyone knows you're interviewing and hang a sign outside. You don't want someone walking in during the interview.

    If you have pets, it's off limits for them, too. A barking dog, leaping cat or noisy bird doesn't make a good impression. If you have a dog that barks when the doorbell rings, make sure you post a sign outside asking delivery persons to not ring or knock.

  7. Check and test your equipment long before the interview.
  8. No technology is perfect, even when it's usually reliable. But you don't want to find yourself troubleshooting faulty tech five minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. At least a day before your interview, if possible, you should be testing your equipment and making a test call. If anything seems wrong, you've got time to address it.

    Make sure you know how to adjust your microphone volume before the call. You want the other person to hear you. If you have discrete earbuds, consider using them. You'll be able to hear better and there will be less echo.

    Make sure your camera will focus well. If you have an old camera, now might be a great opportunity to upgrade. It might even be a deductible job search expense!

  9. Clean your room and present a neutral space.
  10. Different people have different styles, but you want to err on the side of caution by making sure you present a clean style. You want to put your best foot forward, not look messy. You can negotiate later about acceptable levels of disorganization in your workspace if you get the job.

    Practice how you will appear in the video and remove any unneeded items from the field of view. In the end, you are going to be taking up the majority of the video, so other items in the shot shouldn't be a problem. But you don't want to be reclining and giving the interviewer a full view of your bedroom. Think, also, of how things will look if the interviewer asks for something that you don't have. If you need to get up for something, you're giving your interviewer a full view of the room to judge you.

    Your backdrop should be somewhat neutral, such as a wall or even bedsheets hung from the ceiling. If you have to get up for anything, you won't have anything else in view. If you do hang a sheet, make sure it won't fall. That could be awkward.

  11. Look directly at the camera, not at yourself on the screen.
  12. Video interviews are a little more tough than in-person conversations because you need to make sure to be looking at the camera rather than the screen. The camera is how you make "eye contact" with the interviewer, so you need to focus on it.

    Looking at the camera means that you can't look at the person's face for a reaction. This can make the conversation a bit more awkward, but it can also work in your favor by preventing you from changing your answers or babbling since misread facial expressions.

  13. Answer nature's call before you answer the interviewer.
  14. Just like you would for an in-person interview, make sure to use the restroom before your video interview. The conversation may run over its allotted time, and holding it will affect your ability to think clearly and act normally.

    Go to the restroom beforehand, and avoid drinking anything right before you start. If you think you might have dry mouth, have some water nearby. You might even put it into a neutral coffee mug so any time you drink blends into the conversation.

  15. Do your research
  16. Just as you would for any other interview, do your homework beforehand. Make a list of your own questions to ask the interviewer. Do a practice interview with someone. Learn as much as you can, and prepare and practice your response for tricky questions. Have everything you need to reference within arms reach.

    If a question stumps you, it will definitely show. Since you can't prepare for everything, there's nothing wrong with pausing for a moment and then saying that you had never thought of that particular thing before.

  17. Dress professionally, even if you are in your bedroom.
  18. It doesn't matter whether your interview is at the office or in your basement. You must look professional. The "just-rolled-out-of-bed" look won't go over well with potential employers.

    Different industries have different standards, and some don't require as much formality as others. A graphic designer, for example, may not have to wear the same suit as a banker. Even so, you need to look fresh and healthy. Give yourself extra time to get ready and make sure that everything looks good.