Video interviews are a growing trend among hiring managers, with almost 70 percent of HR officers noting that they use video interviews “very often.” Video interviews, conducted over services like Skype, save time and money for companies, but they can also be challenging for jobseekers to navigate. Most people don’t have a lot of experience speaking so formally via video and tend to make mistakes that can detract from what they are saying — something that no one wants during a job interview.
Since there is a good chance that you’re going to be invited to interview via video at some point in your career, take time to practise and avoid these five common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Setting the Stage
When you’re interviewing via video, prepare the technical aspects well before the interview date. You do not want to discover that your webcam turns your face purple or that your microphone makes you sound like you’re speaking from the bottom of a well when this interview is taking place. Test your equipment to confirm that it works and that you can quickly and easily make adjustments on the fly if necessary. If something isn’t working, you’ll have time to get new equipment or find an alternative solution.
It’s not just equipment that’s of concern, though. Pay attention to what is visible in the background so it’s consistent with your personal brand. You don’t want to be sitting in front of a poster glorifying crime when you’re explaining why you chose to pursue a MSCJA degree or other law enforcement credentials, after all. The best background is neutral, that doesn’t detract attention away from you. Hang your degrees on the wall or display awards to subtly remind the interviewer of your achievements.
In addition, eliminate distracting background noise. Interview away from other people and pets, put a note on the door asking delivery people or visitors not to ring the bell, turn off loud fans and put your phone in silent mode.
Mistake#2: Not Making Eye Contact
Interviewing on video makes it more challenging to maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Naturally, you will want to look at your monitor or computer screen so you can see the interviewer’s face. The problem is that when you look at the screen, what the person on the other end sees is you looking down or to the side — not looking at them.
Instead, while it may feel awkward, you need to look straight at the camera when speaking and listening. This way, it appears that you are making eye contact with the interviewer, and you’re engaged in the conversation.
Mistake #3: Not Paying Attention to Body Language
Not only is it important to maintain eye contact, you need to be cognizant of your overall body language as well. When you’re interviewing via video for the first time, your discomfort is likely to show in your body language. Take care to stay within the frame, and avoid leaning or gesturing in ways that take you out of the frame. Avoid making too many gestures or fidgeting, as the microphone can pick up even small movements and muffle the sound of your voice. Above all, remember the body language rules that apply to all interviews: Smile, lean forward to project interest and avoid frowning, furrowing your brow or other expressions that indicate boredom, confusion or disinterest.
Mistake#4: Going too Casual
Because video interviewing is a relatively new trend, many jobseekers make the mistake of treating the video interview too casually. There is a perception that video interviews aren’t as serious as in-person meetings and that if the company was really interested, they would have you come in.
While some companies do conduct more casual informational interviews via video, by no means should you approach them with less respect and preparation than an in-person interview. Prepare for a video interview as you would any other, by dressing appropriately (and not just from the waist up), doing your research and developing some insightful questions to ask the interviewers. The video interview may be your only chance to make an impression before they make a hiring decision, so make the most of it.
Mistake #5: Over-Rehearsing
Just as bad as underpreparing is over-preparing for the interview, to the point where you sound like a robot when responding to questions. Be prepared to answer the most common interview questions, have a few examples to draw upon to demonstrate your qualifications, but don’t memorize a speech. You’ll come across as fake and dull, and you never want to be either of those things.
Interviewing via video can be uncomfortable, but it can also be as effective as meeting in person. Prepare and practise, and your next video interview could lead to your dream job.