As most job seekers will have experienced, occasionally it can be impossible to make it to an interview and there is nothing more disappointing than having to pull out because you can’t make it. However, video interview is an increasingly popular alternative and if you’re lucky, you might be offered this opportunity instead. Although it’s always better to be able to turn up in person, at least turning up over the internet is better than not being able to turn up at all.
I was travelling back from Australia when I got an email offering me my interview and I jumped at the chance! Unfortunately, I was unable to make it back to the venue in Cornwall in time but luckily I was offered a video interview and although it didn’t run as smooth as we would have liked (due to some internet connectivity problems, and our Skype accounts not finding each other) the interview was a good substitute. Although, with our Skype issue, we actually had a Face-time interview which leads me to my first tip:
Video interview top tip number 1: Always have a back-up.
You never know when technology is going to fail on you, despite how carefully planned you’ve tried to be, so remember to plan for failure. That means exchanging email addresses, skype usernames and most importantly, phone numbers. Make sure you are able to set your interview session up near the internet modem to maximise the chances of an uninterrupted connection. Once you know you have your back up, you can focus on the details.
Video interview top tip number 2: Dress code commitment
Don’t think just because you are on video, the interviewer will only see your top half. Like comedy newsreaders, you might imagine you could get away with wearing casual trousers, pyjama bottoms or just underwear... and think why not? But not only could that be risky in terms of being seen, but getting dressed up, head to toe for an interview is also important to get you in the right mind-set.
I got up early that morning, like I would if I were physically going to the interview, and got dressed (with my limited holiday wardrobe) for my interview. This helps get you focused on being and feeling professional. To make your best impression, feeling the part and dressing the part will help you feel ready to achieve.
Video interview top tip number 3: Make sure your interview space is going to be quiet
It sounds obvious, but set up for any eventuality. Put the dog outside and if you can, make sure someone will pick up the phone or answer the door so you have no distractions. As much as your interviewer might like dogs, they want to find out more about you, not your pooch.
If you do have an interruption, deal with it professionally and calmly. At the end of the day, although you want to make the best of a video interview, the interviewers will understand it is not always possible. Even BBC live interviews can be interrupted by the family.
Video interview top tip number 4: Be wary of camera angles
Setting up is very important, and besides making sure you have your CV, ample battery power and a (non alcoholic) drink handy, setting up the camera is also a consideration. Make sure the room is bright or that the area you will be sitting in is well lit; this will ensure video come through clearly and hopefully make you easier to see. Test out the camera angle before the interview starts to make sure it’s not a super close up of your face… or your chin. If you are going to use a phone, make sure you test this camera angle too as you will need somewhere to prop the phone up or purchase a phone tripod. Finally make sure the environment is clean and tidy within camera-shot!
Video interview top tip number 5: Eye contact with a difference
In the ideal situation, you would be present at an interview (see our interview essentials here) and you can use all the standard tips for reading the interviewer’s reactions to your answers. You can also connect and show confidence with your own eye contact and body language.
However, when you are relying on technology you need to find the right balance between looking at the camera (image 1), as that will feel like eye contact on the employer’s end, but also keeping an eye on the image of the interviewer (image 2). Your natural instinct will be to look at the image of the interviewer and this is important for those crucial cues and body language which help you gauge how the interview is going. However making ‘virtual eye contact’ is also important. Being aware of how you look from the employer’s end can help you adjust your behaviours and hopefully connect better.
Video interview top tip number 6 : Embrace the situation and make the best of the opportunity.
I had a great experience with my video interview. Despite the technical problems, I thought the interview went well and after a second in-person, physical meeting, I ended up with the job so that’s proof it was a great start.
You need to treat the situation like any physical interview; dedicate your time to preparing and focus on answering the questions. If you do experience technical glitches, you can also connect with the interviewer over the fact they are probably worried about the same technical hitches that you are - an icebreaker.
A video interview isn’t the most convenient but it is a lifeline to an opportunity. If you have the skills, knowledge and the right personality and attitude that should still come across in a video interview. Make a good impression and you can move forward from there.