6 Do’s and Don’t’s of Video Interviews

CareerBuilder Chief People Officer Michelle Armer shares insights about common career questions. We distil some of her insights for our workforce today.

With more people working from home and HR interviewing for positions all over the world, it’s no wonder that video interviewing is on the rise. If you’re looking for your next job, you may be asked to meet the interviewer or interviewers not in person, but from a screen.

It stands to reason that with a new type of interview come new expectations and challenges. To help you avoid pitfalls, we’ve prepared some “do’s” and “don’ts” of video interviews, so that you can be well-prepared to put your best self forward be it on screen or online.

1. DO test your equipment

Unlike a face-to-face interview, you’ll be meeting your interviewer through the many apps and protocols that form your connection. Therefore, it’s vital that you check that your equipment and software is sound.

Use a checker like Online Mic Test to make sure you can listen and be heard, check how you appear in your camera screen, and make sure your laptop is fully charged and in a stable position (don’t balance it on your lap!). Also, make sure to test your equipment on the platform you’ll be using – just because you can take a Skype call doesn’t mean everything will be fine on Google Hangouts.

A good practice is to get a friend to do a “rehearsal” call with you to make sure everything is working.

2. DO prepare your portfolio

If your experience is mainly with in-person interviews, you may be used to bringing a copy of your resume, testimonials, and samples to present when needed.

For the video interview, remember to do the same on a digital level. Have a list of links to a resume or portfolio ready to copy and paste if required. Some interviewees prepare a browser window with all the necessary samples and documents loaded up beforehand, so that they can switch to the relevant screen anytime.

Note: Sometimes, an applicant feels tempted to load up not just samples and links, but scripted answers to questions as well. We advise against this practice, because it will be very obvious that you’re reading from your screen and you’ll come off as robotic to the interviewer. Instead, try to record your answers beforehand, play them back, and practice your delivery so that it sounds natural and professional during the actual interview.

3. DO prepare your interview space

One of the biggest video interview “no-no”s is a distracted interviewee with a distracted background. This means no piles of laundry or messy beds in the shot when you are giving your interview.

Frame yourself in the good lightings with clean surroundings in order to convey an image of calm, order and professionalism. Prepare your interview space beforehand so that it looks like what you would expect of a face-to-face interview room. Some interviewees, especially students, rent library rooms or study rooms for their video interviews.

Don’t neglect the digital interview space, either! Screen sharing is common practice during video interviews, and an interviewer may ask to see your screen very suddenly. (This is especially common in the design field, where the company may want to view detailed work samples.)

Close unnecessary tabs and windows beforehand, have a generic wallpaper, and make sure you don’t have any other chat windows open. Many an interview has been derailed when the interviewer sees a browser tab labelled “Best Interview Answers” on-screen.

4. DON’T underdress

Dress properly for the video interview as you would for a face-to-face one. A good rule of thumb is to do some research into the dress code of the office, and try to imitate that same style or go slightly more dressed up.

We can’t emphasise this enough – don’t half-dress! Every video interviewer has a story about a well-dressed candidate who stood up to deliver a presentation or fetch a document, only to show the hiring executives their favourite Winne the Pooh pajama pants (or worse yet, their favourite Winnie the Pooh underpants).

Also, dressing up professionally will help set your “mood” for the interview. You will feel more professional and confident, and hence deliver a more professional and confident interview.

5. DON’T allow interruptions

Similar to the evergreen story of a half-dressed interviewee, everyone has a story about that time when an important interview was interrupted by their neighbour’s loud music, their children wanting to play, or the dog wanting to go outside.

Let everyone know when your interview will be taking place and for how long, and make sure they know not to interrupt you during that time. It may be helpful to put up a “do not disturb” sign, or come up with a set of rules that everyone agrees on.

It’s important to not let yourself get distracted as well. Hiring managers have rejected interviewees who paused their own interviews to answer the door, or message someone in a chat group. Hence, we recommend turning off your phone and closing distracting browser windows to focus better on the interview itself.

6. DON’T forget to follow up

If you had your interview on Skype, it can be tempting to follow-up with a simple Skype message at the end of the interview. However, that lacks professionalism and respect for the formalised process of a job interview.

Stick to the traditional e-mailed thank-you note, not more than 24 hours after the interview. Like any other thank-you note, make sure to convey your feelings of gratefulness, enthusiasm to work with the company, and reference something within the interview itself. This will help keep you in the hiring manager’s mind, always a plus.

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