Since in-person interviews aren’t always possible, an increasing number of employers are turning to video conferencing as an alternative to the impersonal phone interview. While all the standard interview preparation guidelines still apply to this type of interview, there are additional aspects to prepare for. Whether this will be your first interview of this kind or your hundredth, these seven tips for a successful video conference interview can help you make the best possible impression.
Download and test the program
In a perfect world, you should plan to download the video conference program your interviewer wants to use the same day you schedule the interview. This will allow you adequate time to ensure the program runs well on your computer. Depending on the minimum requirements for the conferencing program, you may find that you need to secure a different computer to conduct your interview on.
But meeting minimum requirements isn’t the end of it. If possible, schedule a practice call with a friend a few days in advance for roughly the same time of day as your interview. Try to avoid waiting until the last minute because what you uncover during the practice run could require substantial action on your part.
Get the equipment
One of the more common issues you may encounter during your test run is that your friend either can’t see you well or you’re difficult to hear. These are both relatively fast and easy fixes since you can pick up a better quality microphone or webcam at most computer or electronics stores.
Remember, an IT interview typically requires you to talk about complicated projects and in-depth technologies you’ve used, so anything you can do to make it easier for your interviewer to hear you can make the interview go smoother.
Consider your Internet connection
Before you select the location for your video conference interview, be sure to evaluate the type of Internet connection available to you. While you may not have any issues with the Internet going down during your test run, it’s rarely a good idea to use your WiFi that’s known for sporadic or spotty connectivity. If you have the ability to use a wired connection instead of a wireless connection, it can help with the quality and clarity of your video and sound
If the Internet at home is known for its unreliability, you may want to check with your local library or business centers. In many cases, they have quiet study rooms with reliable Internet that you can book for your interview.
Prepare your space
While removing clutter from the area visible to your webcam is important for presenting yourself in a professional manner, it’s far from the end of your video conference prep. During your test run, ask your friend for their impression of your surroundings and deal with any distractions. The last thing you want is for your interviewer to be more focused on the concert poster or abstract artwork behind you than your answers to their questions.
The way you light the room where you’ll participate in the interview is also important. Whenever possible, avoid placing sunny windows or light sources behind you, as they can wash out your appearance and create a glare for the person conducting the interview. What you wear can also play into this, as white clothes and shimmery makeup tend to create an unwanted glare.
If you don’t already own one, consider picking up a small adjustable desk lamp from an office supply store so that you’ll have a light source you can easily place behind your computer monitor in the event of an overcast day. After making any changes to your lighting or the background, run another quick test with a friend to ensure you haven’t inadvertently added new distractions when dealing with the old ones.
Pick the right place
Since computer microphones can be extremely sensitive, choosing the right location for your interview is critical. Generally, your home is the best option. Public locations can create a cacophony of sound that will drown out your answers while creating a slew of visual distractions for both you and the interviewer. If using a laptop, be sure to have an outlet nearby to prevent any “low battery” interruptions.
It’s also smart to avoid using your current office for your video conference interview. Not only can it be difficult to control the lighting and level of distractions, but it also sends an unprofessional vibe to the person conducting the interview. Even if your current employer has no problem with it, still avoid this setting if at all possible to better manage the impression you make.
Protect the time
If there are typically other people in your household during the time of your interview, be sure they’re aware of what’s going on and how important it is. While posting a do not disturb sign on your door and locking it can be useful, your computer’s microphone may be sensitive enough to pick up sounds from other rooms. Possible noise distractions you may have to deal with in your home could include:
- Appliances running
- Barking dogs
- Crying babies or playing children
- Video games
Whenever possible, shut off running appliances and encourage your family to go do something fun outside of the house during your scheduled interview. Also, try to avoid scheduling your interview for the time of day you know noisy children have a habit of parading in front of your home office window on their way home from school.
Although participating in an interview from home can feel inherently more relaxed, treat it as you would any other interview. An excellent way to get into the proper mindset for your video conference interview is to do everything else you might do prior to an in-person interview, including showering and picking up a fresh suit from the dry cleaners. Unlike a phone interview, the interviewer will be able to see you. Trying to hide matted hair under a baseball cap or in a hasty ponytail won’t score you any points.
Be sure to practice your professionalism during your practice test with a friend. Are you making strange, bored or repetitive gestures? Do you have the habit of checking your phone throughout? As a rule, don’t engage in slouching or eye rolling – or any mannerism, for that matter – if it’s not something you’d do during an in-person interview.
Also, remember that making eye contact with the interviewer means looking directly into the webcam, not into the person’s eyes on your screen. If you’re utilizing a detachable webcam, try to attach it near the top of your screen to make it easier to look into.
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do for a successful video conference interview is to schedule more time for it than you think you’ll need. Have everything on your side ready to go at least five minutes prior to the appointed time, even if that means starting a half hour early. Letting technical issues create a bumpy start to your interview sends a mixed message, especially when you’re interviewing for an IT position.
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