Video Interview Do’s and Don’ts
Review the guidelines for phone interviews, but also keep these “do’s” and “don’ts” in mind.
- Dress nicely — more than one jobseeker has scheduled a Skype interview, thinking it would be voice only — and then accidentally found himself or herself on a video Skype call.
- Dress from head-to-toe. You may think you do not need to wear dress pants with the shirt and tie since the interviewer is only going to see the top half of your outfit. But you should always expect the unexpected. You never know when you might need to stand during an interview. Pajama pants or shorts with a dress shirt, tie, and jacket just do not work.
- Keep your clothing color choice in mind. Check how the colors of your clothing appear on camera. Just like TV news anchors avoid some colors — and most small patterns, pick colors that will show up well on video. Jewel tones or pastel colors work best. Do not wear white or black.
- Practice your Skype interview wearing the exact outfit you are planning to wear. This trial run will also allow you to test the volume of your system, see how the software works (if you are not familiar with Skype), and make sure your lighting is appropriate.
- Lighting is important for Skype interviews. If the light source is behind you, you may appear as a dark silhouette on the screen. Position a lamp or other light source in front of you.
- Ensure that your profile photo is professional. This is your first impression from a physical standpoint in a video conference.
- Positioning is also important. Prop up the computer so that you are not looking down at it and practice where to sit so you are framed correctly by the webcam. Make sure your torso is visible — including your hands — especially if you “talk” with your hands.
- Look at the webcam when you speak, not at the interviewer’s face on your screen. When you look into the camera, it appears to the interviewer that you are looking at them directly.
- One “pro” tip is to use a USB-connected headset for an interview instead of using the computer’s speakers. Headsets are inexpensive and can provide a much clearer interview experience.
- If possible, use a wired Internet connection (plug directly into the Ethernet port) instead of using a wireless connection.
- If you are using a laptop for the Skype session, plug it in so you have plenty of “juice” (battery life) for the call. You do not want to have to dig for a cord to keep the computer from shutting down.
- Turn off notifications on your computer and close your other software programs. You do not want to be distracted by beeps every time you receive an email.
- Speaking of distractions, it is easy to tell on a video interview if you are not paying attention, so keep your focus on the interviewer.
- Dial up the enthusiasm! Someone who speaks with normal energy in a one-on-one conversation can come across as flat and monotone on a video interview. So it is important to be a little more enthusiastic in a Skype interview than normal.
- Smiling is an important strategy for video interviews. Most of the time, when we are listening to someone else, we have a blank expression on our face. But on a video interview, a blank expression comes across as a frown. Keep a slight smile on your face: not a huge grin, just show a few teeth and raise your cheeks slightly. Practice this in a mirror ahead of time.
- Lean in. You have probably heard that “the camera adds 10 pounds.” The reason for this is that many people lean backwards in their chair, when they should be leaning forward. If you sit back and relax in your chair your head will be further away from the webcam than your stomach. Unfortunately, the camera latches on to whatever is closest…your gut!
- For women, pay careful attention to your hair and makeup in video interviews. Again, a practice Skype session can help you assess this.
- Be mindful of your nervous habits. Just like in a face-to-face interview, the interviewer will notice when you twirl your hair or chew your lip.
- You can take notes during a Skype interview, but do not take too many, or you will come off looking distracted. Take notes with a pen and paper, not on your computer.
- If you have an online portfolio, keep the link handy. You may want to share it with your interviewer.
- Choose a cutesy or unprofessional Skype name — no nicknames and minimize numbers and keyboard characters. Online, your first impression is your Skype username and photo, so make sure both are professional. Your best bet is your first name and last name as your username.
- Forget to verify the timing of your Skype interview — taking in account any time zone differences.
- Be too quick to answer. With video, there is sometimes a delay or interference, so make sure you pause before answering a question to avoid overtalking the interviewer.
- Forget to silence your cell phone when you are on a video interview.
At The End of the Interview
As with an in-person interview, be sure to inquire about what the next step will be. And write a handwritten thank you note or email as soon as you are off the call.
Follow-up is key after a phone or video interview. Research indicates that employers are less likely to keep jobseekers up-to-date about their prospects with the company after a phone interview than with an in-person interview.
Checklist for a Virtual Interview
- Print out a hard copy of your résumé (make sure it is the same version the interviewer has), cover letter, and the job posting/job description.
- Prepare your list of questions you want to ask in the interview.
- Assemble your talking points and company research.
- Record a professional voice mail message on your phone.
- Have a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets too dry.
- If using a cell phone, have your phone charger and an outlet nearby.
- If using a laptop, make sure it is plugged in and is charging.
- Eliminate any distractions and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
- Have your calendar or schedule handy in case you are asked to schedule your next interview.