Lights, camera, action! Preparing for a video job interview

Once a hallmark of science fiction novels and comic strips, videoconferencing is now more accessible than ever. Preschoolers chat with faraway grandparents. Teens use FaceTime to hang out with friends. And employers use videoconferencing to interview job applicants.

Pressprich: Videoconferencing is on the rise for job interviews.
Pressprich: Videoconferencing is on the rise for job interviews.

In one survey, 63 percent of human resources (HR) managers said their company often conducts employment interviews via video – a 14 percent increase from the previous year. Most respondents predicted increased use of the technology.

Hiring managers know that a video job interview is more effective than a phone interview. Even when interviewing candidates across town, employers may still rely on videoconferencing. If the business is interviewing applicants from a distance, they will want to interact with everyone in the same manner, for the sake of fairness.

Your first challenges involve technology and logistics. Be sure you know which software the interviewer is using, and obtain an up-to-date version for yourself. Choose a user name that conveys a professional image, and clarify who will initiate the call. Double check the time—including the time zone. Select a location with fast, reliable Internet access. Be sure the camera and microphone work well. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to conduct at least one practice call with a friend.

First impressions

Next, think about the impression you want to make. Start by dressing appropriately, as you would for a face-to-face interview. Dress for success from head to toe, in case you need to adjust your video equipment or stand for any other reason. For the most flattering angle, position your web camera at eye level. You may need to place it or your laptop on a stack of books. If using a stand-alone camera, put it near the monitor you will be viewing. During the interview, try to maintain eye contact with the camera lens as much as possible, giving the impression of sustained eye contact with the interviewers.

Avoid other distractions by choosing a room with a neutral backdrop and a locking door. The interviewer does not want to see your sink full of dirty dishes, and you will not want to be interrupted by a barking dog, beeping microwave, or whining toddler.

Take advantage of natural light by turning your computer so you face a window. If that’s not an option, use a portable lamp to highlight your facial features in a flattering way. Avoid having a bright light source behind you, which will make you appear as a dark silhouette. Experiment with different locations during your practice call.

Even with the best planning, technology can fail us. If you encounter technical problems during the interview, don’t ignore them. If you are unable to hear the questions, suggest hanging up and dialing again. Let the employer see your problem-solving skills.

As the video interview concludes, be sure the microphone and camera are off, and the call is disconnected, before letting down your guard. Don’t end an otherwise successful conversation with an errant comment not intended for your prospective employer.

This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.