Video interviewing: A new look with traditional threads

Ten tips on how to ace your video interview.

Video interviewing: A new look with traditional threads

Video interviews are emerging on the landscape as millennials enter the workforce and previous generations look to change careers or simply “go back to work.” Six out of 10 recruiters are using video interviews, according to Forbes and aboutcareers.com, in part because of the obvious savings in travel expenses and time. Many recent graduates are interviewing using Skype or other video conferencing tools and they prefer it. Interviews online, though, have their advantages and disadvantages, so you have to know what you are doing and be prepared.

Michigan State University Extension offers these 10 tips to help you be successful in a video interview.

  1. Plan in advance. Make sure you have the right materials in front of you. Your resume, portfolio or project materials should be sent ahead of time and you should follow up to make sure they have received them.
  2. Check your equipment. Check all equipment and lighting beforehand. Try out the connection and camera. Consider the lighting, including what time of day the interview will take place, if windows or reflections will be a factor or if you will need artificial light.
  3. Practice the interview. Practice first by yourself and then with a friend or family member. Check for sound quality and video connections and if they can hear and see you well. Note your positions and voice volume. This also allows you to get comfortable with your surroundings as well as your informational content. Additionally, you can ask at the start of the interview if you are seen and heard well.
  4. Plan for Plan B. Glitches may and often occur. Have a backup plan. Identify alternate venues to suggest such as FaceTime, a chat site, the plain old phone or cell phone or other means of communication.
  5. Dress professionally. It’s just like a face-to-face interview, so full attire! Not just the top half. Your presentation of yourself is important, but additionally the old sages say that dressing professionally can encourage acting professionally.
  6. Have a plain background. Eliminate distractions in the background of your video. No swings, gyroscopes, posters, cutesies, souvenirs, trinkets, or coo-coo clocks – in other words, no junk! To reiterate: make sure the background is not cluttered. Also, try to avoid noisy places or places that are susceptible to interruptions. You may want to try a local library or rent an office if your home is not accommodating.
  7. Make eye contact. You may glance at your notes as you field questions or you can post them above your computer facing away from the camera, but speak and look into the camera when you respond, not at the screen. You can and are encouraged to use hand gestures, smiles and other nonverbal cues. That is why the video is there.
  8. Know your screen. Be careful of what screens are visible. You may be required to share documents and screens, so be conscious of what you have “open” while you do this. Email notices or pop-ups are like having your cell phone go off during the interview. Not good. Silence your cell phone ringer and shut down screens that may interrupt.
  9. Do not read responses. Instead, speak in a normal, conversational voice, forming your sentences as you go and as you would in a face-to-face interview. Also, try not to talk over the interviewer. Expect a delay in the connection and let them finish their questions before answering. This can allow you time to formulate your thoughts, which can be an advantage.
  10. Write a thank you note. Write a thank you note following the interview. As of now, a typed note or email is not sufficient. A hand-written thank you note is expected. More information can be found under 4-H program resources on writing the proper thank you note.

Posting notes on the walls, having extra time to respond to questions – thanks to that little transmission delay – and being in a familiar setting are some advantages to video interviewing. However, there are possible pitfalls. Being prepared, practicing and planning ahead will help you overcome those pitfalls and ace that interview.

For more information on video interviews and job interview skills, please visit MSU Extension’s Career Preparation Interviews. You can also search through our Career Exploration Resources

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