8 tips on acing your video interview
In the digital age, the nature of job interviews is changing, and video or Skype interviews are becoming increasingly popular. The advent of high-speed broadband and online conferencing technology means Skype interviews can be just as effective as face-to-face interviews. Particularly when professionals are in other cities or are applying for a role overseas, it makes sense for employers to conduct the main interview using a webcam and internet connection.
Using Skype and other conferencing tools, it is possible to replicate the traditional meeting set-up in a remote environment. Using the web, both parties can see and hear each other, even though they are not physically present in the same room. This allows them to have a natural conversation and read each others' body language, much in the same way as any interview.
As more employers embrace live video feeds to meet candidates, it is increasingly important that professionals know how to approach Skype interviews. You need to be comfortable with the set-up and do all you can to make a positive impression with the employer. Considerations such as the technology, your surroundings and appearance cannot be overlooked. But of course, you've still got to give great answers.
Here are our top tips for interviewing over Skype and other web conferencing tools:
1. Sort out your technology
You need to ensure you have high-speed, reliable connectivity, which won't let you down mid-interview. An internet outage could potentially scupper your chances of success. Always test your connection before the interview; if it is struggling with the demands of Skype, you may have to upgrade your web service to fibre or conduct the interview using another computer. If possible, have a back-up plan in case your broadband goes down - for instance, a 4G dongle or hotspot from your phone offers an alternative way of getting online.
2. Choose a suitable location
You don't want to conduct a Skype interview anywhere you may be interrupted or get distracted. It's important to have a room to yourself for the duration of the interview, meaning there will be no background noise or movement. The hiring manager's attention needs to be on you - the candidate - not the people who are moving around in the background. Before the interview, ensure you tidy the room you have chosen so that it delivers a positive impression of you as a professional.
3. Dress to impress
You might not be meeting the employer in public, but this is still a formal interview. If you are speaking to an employer over Skype, you should dress according to the style expectations of somebody working in your industry. If in doubt, wear a suit and tie. Just because you are in your home study, it does not mean you can wear your pyjamas! You should ensure your appearance is in accordance with your normal interview standards.
4. Have resources to hand
If you're sitting at a desk for your interview, ensure you have everything ready on the surface before you start - including a water jug, paper and pens, and even your phone. If there is a problem with the conferencing technology, or somebody's connection goes down, it may be necessary to conclude the interview by phone. Being prepared with a back-up solution shows your initiative.
5. Smile at the camera
As in any other interview, you should make every effort to smile during your video interview and present positive body language. The fact that the employer wished to meet you over Skype suggests they are interested in assessing your appearance and manner - otherwise they may simply have conducted a phone interview. Being polite and courteous, and presenting a friendly face, can play to your advantage when the hiring manager makes their final decision on who to recruit and whether you will fit in with their team.
6. Address IT issues
If you suspect the connection has cut out, or there is a lengthy delay in the stream, check with the interviewer that they can still hear you and that your responses are coming through in real time. If there is a problem with the technology, it is best to combat it at an early stage, rather than limp through the interview struggling with the video link. You may need to close down the conferencing app and restart it in order to reboot your connection.
7. Practice in advance
Before you carry out your Skype interview for the job, you should practise your skills with a mock interviewer. Get a friend or family member to put you through your paces online, asking the sorts of questions you may be challenged with in the real interview. Conducting a mock Skype interview ensures you know what to expect on the day, and address issues such as volume and screen brightness in advance.
8. Conduct your usual preparation
It is important to do all your usual interview preparation as well, as if it is any other interview. This means preparing rough answers to key interview questions, researching the organisation you are looking to join, memorising the details on your CV and learning the job description inside out. You should be able to provide case studies and examples of the value you add, in order to strengthen the case for offering you a job.
Whether the type of interview you are invited to is a skype, phone, or face-to-face interview, most of these interview tips apply. Remember that during an interview, it is an opportunity for you to impress your potential employer. Being aware of your surroundings, potential issues, and placing yourself in the best possible light will give you the greatest chance of receiving a job offer.