Remember this interview that went viral?
We don’t need to tell you that interviewing for a new job is stressful. The experience of having to sit down in front of an employer and answering unknown questions can raise the anxiety of even the most confident job seeker. Interviewees worry about what they are expected to say, and whether they will mess up and make mistakes. For an already anxious job seeker, online video interviews brings a whole other level of unnerving challenges.
Video interviews, where employers use commonly used video applications such as Skype, dedicated job interview sites such as HireView or other applications, such VenterView, an automated interviewing technology, are becoming increasingly common. Employers use the technology to prescreen applicants or even conduct full interviews with long distance candidates.
For job seekers, this process can be demanding. In addition to the usual stressors of job interviews, video interviews require you to figure out new software, get used to talking to a screen and to be aware of how you and your physical environment appear on screen. Much more than in person interviews, video interviews intensify the focus of the interviewer(s) on your face for the entire interview, making it even more stressful.
One of the main reasons that employers insist on seeing you and hearing your voice is they want to get to know you as a person – beyond the resume. Employers want to figure out how likeable you are and how quickly you think on your feet. Your confidence, competence and other personal characteristics will be evaluated from your words and observed through your non-verbal behaviours on camera.
Preparation is key. Spend time preparing for the interview. Set up the space and the computer, and think of your clothes and what you are planning to say. Ask a friend to conduct a test interview; if you can, record the interview so you can examine how you come across on screen in terms of what you say, how you speak and what you and how your environment may be perceived. Practice, practice, practice.
Here are some tips:
Prepare your interview space:
- Set up your interview space; the room should be tidy, well-lit and quiet
- Position your computer so that doesn’t face a window; that way, there will be no reflections on the screen
- Make sure that the room is silent; no crying babies, barking dogs or loud traffic
Make sure your computer (hardware and software) works:
- Long before the interview, test your computer, camera and microphone with a friend
- Bring the microphone near and test that the speakers are on
- Test for sound; can you hear the person and can they hear you clearly?
- Set up the camera, make sure it works; position yourself so that you are not too close, or too far
- Set up the video so you can make eye contact. When you are being interviewed on video, you will want to look at the face of the interviewer, which isn’t necessarily where the webcam is positioned. Tip: to ensure that you are looking at the interviewer, resize and move the window with the person’s video image up or as close to your webcam as possible.
Plan what you are going to wear:
- Prepare an outfit as you would for an in-person interview – simple and professional
- Keep your appearance simple and not distracting:
- Neat and clean (unwrinkled) clothes
- No busy patterns (including stripes) – they don’t always look good on video
- Bright or dramatic colours also can become even brighter on screen (including black); grey, blue and pastels look best
- Avoid sparkly dangly jewelry – it’s distracting and can make noise
Prepare your answers and questions:
- Use the job posting to help you identify what the employer wants to hear about, and prepare answers to commonly asked question such as:
- “Tell me about yourself” – your experience, skills and expertise
- “Describe your weaknesses and strengths” – use examples from your previous jobs
- “What do you know about our company?”
- “What are your goals for the next 5 years?”
- You will be offered to ask questions of your own; this is a good opportunity to make a positive impression:
- Think of questions about the job or company that show you are interested but avoid using this opportunity to only discuss salary or benefits. That can come later.
- Ask the employer to describe what kind of person they are hoping to hire, or about their goals for the company
- For more help with interviewing look through our posts about interviewing on the JVS Toronto blog
Prepare your material for the interview:
- Have folder with all the information you might need, including:
- your resume and the job posting
- answers to questions
- questions for the employer
- Other useful items such as a glass of water, a note pad and pen, and your calendar (in case you need to schedule the next step)
- Don’t forget to switch off the ringer on your cellphone
During the interview:
- Smile and breathe
- Maintain eye contact appropriately: try to look confidently at your interviewer (not all the time, but enough that it’s clear that you are paying attention) Remember, the camera is where you look, not the interviewer on the screen
- Make sure to communicate clearly – speak loudly and clearly, and not too fast or too slow
- Listen carefully – ask for clarification when you need it
- Don’t rush your answers – you can say “let me think about it” and take a moment before you answer
- Do expect mistakes: be prepared to apologize or explain calmly if something goes wrong or you don’t understand a question, and keep going
- Try to not move around too much, or touch your face (you can use your hands to speak, if you usually do)
- Use your notes, if needed, and take notes, if necessary (“is it OK if i write this down?”)
- Remember to thank the interviewer at the end of the interview
- As soon as you can after the interview, write a short “thank you” email to the employer.
- Include in the email:
- a mention of something you enjoyed/learned in the interview (e.g. something you didn’t know about the company or position)
- a brief summary of the reasons you believe you are a strong candidate for this position
- a reminder of your enthusiasm for the job