Modern technology can help you in your job search, but it can also give a bad impression
Remember the British journalist whose kids interrupted his interview with the BBC a few months ago? Although it ended well, there are many times in which such occurrences can torpedo the conversation and damage the parent's reputation.
One such situation is the job interview. If you're speaking with an employer in another location about a job, the last thing you want is a disruption that may make you appear unprofessional. Modern technology can help you in your job search, but it can also give employers a bad impression if you're unprepared.
If you've got a job interview coming up that will be conducted via Skype, FaceTime, or another video program, follow these tips to make sure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
- Clean the room
- Look straight at the camera
- Use the restroom before the interview
- Make the interview room off-limits
- Do your research
- Do a careful check of your equipment
- Dress professionally
- Remember that you're in an interview
You've probably heard the saying "Messy house, messy mind." Different people have different work styles. Although you may be more productive in environments that are less than pristine—especially if your job falls in a creative field—it is still best to put your best foot forward to make a good first impression when it comes to the interview. You can negotiate later about acceptable levels of disorganization in your workspace if you get the job.
Make sure that the room in which you will be located for the interview is as clean and organized as possible. Everything you might need—such as a copy of your resume—should be at your fingertips. Messy or disorganized rooms often raise red flags for employers, who don't want their employees to have to waste time sifting through piles of papers on their desks to find the one they need.
You can even consider a backdrop if for some reason you can't clean up the space behind you. Black or gray bedsheets hung from the ceiling can serve this purpose as long as they won't distract the interviewer or fall down mid-interview.
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; if you don't, it will appear to the other person as if you aren't paying attention.
Looking at the camera means that you can't actually look at the person's face on the screen and judge their reaction visually. This can make the conversation a bit more nerve-wracking, but researching common and likely interview questions and practicing beforehand will help with nerves. Practicing a video conversation will also train you to look at the camera rather than the screen.
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 clear, give a measured and thoughtful response to questions, and may even cause you to begin sweating.
Go to the restroom beforehand, and avoid drinking anything right before you start.
Although it was funny when the journalist's children interrupted his interview, it would have been very different if he had been interviewing for a job. If there's one thing we can learn from his situation, it's that he should have made his room off-limits to anyone else for the duration of the interview.
If the door has a lock, use it. If not, consider installing one. You can even prop something against the door to block it as long as it can't be seen on camera.
Even better, ask the other members of your household to step out during the time you've scheduled for your interview. Outside noises can still be distracting, and you want it to be as calm and quiet in the room as possible for your conversation.
Just as you would for any other interview, do your homework beforehand. This is even more important for video interviews because your face will be all that the interviewer can see and therefore he or she will be more focused on your expressions. If a question stumps you, it will definitely show.
You can avoid this by studying the company or organization thoroughly before the interview. 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.
We've all blamed some trouble on computer problems. Such issues are common and often happen at the worst possible moment. Your job interview is definitely a time at which you don't want this to happen.
Do all that you can to carefully check and test your equipment the day before the interview. Is the camera working and focused? The microphone? How are the sound levels? Are all the cables connected?
Test everything by recording yourself and then playing it back and making adjustments as needed. This will allow you to fix any problems that come up ahead of time.
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 your hair, makeup, teeth, nails, and everything else is all clean and looking good.
If you're being interviewed via video, chances are that the computer you'll be using is also your personal machine. This can make it easy to forget that you're being watched by a potential employer, leading you to slouch, let your eyes wander, or start scrolling through your emails or text messages.
If you did this during a face-to-face interview, the conversation would not last long. You must treat video interviews exactly the same as you would in-person conversations if you want any chance of getting the job.