The unstoppable rise of the Internet has facilitated many areas of modern life, and job interviews are no exception. A common problem for both expats and their potential employers is that they’re often not in the same country, or even on the same continent.
This can make conducting a normal face-to-face interview both expensive and impractical, and so a great way to work around this geographic conundrum is through an online video interview.
This is a very different experience to that of a traditional interview, and therefore requires different preparation and tactics. These tips will help you to ensure your video interview goes as smoothly and positively as possible.
Obviously speaking to an image of someone through a camera is different to being in the same room as them, and needs to be treated slightly differently. First and foremost it’s best to consider body language. Unfortunately, using a webcam hides many of the subtle mannerisms that we pick up on in real life, and as such the words you’re saying become even more significant.
Whilst you can still use hands for gesticulation, make sure they’re not flailing wildly around the screen and distracting the interviewer.
It’s also important to make sure you look at the camera, rather than the images on screen. It can be tempting to watch the person you’re talking to, or even self consciously look at your own image. However, you’ll only give off the impression of being engaged with the interviewer if you’re actually looking at the camera.
A good way to check you’re getting it right is to conduct a practice interview with a friend, or record yourself and watch it back. This can give you an idea of your movements and sound levels to ensure you’re able to clearly communicate with whoever’s at the other end.
Even though you might not have to leave the house, you’ll still have to dress up appropriately. First impressions are important, so try to wear something suitable for whatever job you’re applying for. What’s more, don’t try to get away with just doing your top half because you think that’s all the interviewers going to see. It could be very embarrassing if you have to get up for any reason, and reveal your shirt is tucked into a pair of pyjama trousers!
Prepare your environment
Skype interviews afford you the unique opportunity of being able to choose your own interview environment, rather than it being a boardroom or wherever else the interviewer might decide to conduct it. However, this also means you take on the responsibility of ensuring you select somewhere appropriate.
Try to do it where you feel comfortable, but without being too relaxed. After all, it is still an interview rather than a simple chat. Along with this, the environment has to look good for the interviewer. It’s a good idea to check the line of sight of the camera and make sure there’s no clutter or distractions that might put them off. Absence of diversions also helps to focus your own attention.
However, outside the camera’s view is a different story. Assuming you’ve done some previous research on the company and the role you’re applying for, you have the luxury of not having to remember all this information by heart.
Instead, it’s helpful to put some important notes and pointers somewhere easily visible within your line of vision. They shouldn’t be anywhere that distracts you, or forces you to divert your focus from the camera too much. After all, you want the person on the other end to feel they have your undivided attention.
It’s also essential to make sure there’s no other potential unwanted diversions from the task at hand. It’s best to be alone; try to choose a time when anyone else in your house is not going to burst in to interrupt proceedings. At the very least stick a note on the door of the room you’re in telling people not to come in or disturb you.
Prepare your computer
Most people, and especially expats, set up their Skype account for personal use. It could easily slip your mind when arranging a video interview that your Skype profile has to seem appropriate and encouraging for a potential employer – an overly personal account might not be conducive to this.
Double check that your username, profile picture and anything else that they might see won’t make them think twice about giving you a job. If you’re unsure, you can always open a new account specifically for job interviews, after all they’re free to set up!
You should update to the latest version of the software to maximise stability and reduce the chance of any unwanted technological hiccups. Make sure you test this latest version as well to ensure it has installed correctly and runs without problems. The most recent versions of Skype are available here.
Connectivity can further be improved by ensuring you have no other programs open on your computer, this also serves to get rid of distractions such as email notifications. In the same vein, it’s a good idea to switch your phone off throughout the duration of the interview.
If all of these precautions still aren’t enough to prevent a poor connection, don’t be afraid to do something to rectify the situation. The last thing you want to do is miss out on the job thanks to not having your answer heard, or not giving the right answer because you didn’t hear the question.
Whilst of course it’s a last resort, hanging up the conversation and redialling can help to improve the connection. The interviewer ought to understand that these things happen, and will hopefully even admire your initiative in taking command of the situation.
These issues in communication can be a constant worry, so if everything is working OK make sure the person on the other end of the line knows it. Don’t stay silent for too long if they’re talking, all it takes is an encouraging “yes” so that they know you’re still present and listening.
On the other hand, don’t over do it and feel the need to constantly check that they can hear you, this only serves to interrupt your own flow. Anyway, if the connection is broken they won’t be able to hear your concern regardless. All you can do is talk clearly, hope for the best, and address any problems if and as they arise.
Provided you adequately prepare and heed all of the above advice, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to charm an interviewer as if they were right there with you. Other than this specialist advice for online interviews, of course many of the usual hints and tips for success in a normal interview apply. Keep a cool head and answer the questions as best you can.
Have you had a video interview? Let us know how it went and what advice you would give in the comments below.