More and more companies are turning to video interviews. Here's how to stand out.
You're on the job hunt, and when it comes to interviewing, you've got it down. You have a killer handshake. You can enter the room like you belong there. You even keep a stash of minty breath strips in your pocket to make sure your answers smell as good as they sound. But what if you land an interview for a job you really want and they want to meet with you — through Skype. Now what?
Like it or not, virtual interviews are growing in popularity. As technology advances, it has become easier for companies to set up interviews through resources like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Bluejeans. Why? It saves the company time in the interview process, which also helps them save money.
Here's the good news — you can knock the video interview out of the park just as easily as you can in person. Job seekers just need to keep a few tips in mind. Here are some of our favorite Skype (and other video) interview tips for before, during, and after the big interview.
Before the interview
1. Figure out the tech
It's the 2020s, and you want to come across as tech-savvy. Cover your bases early:
Familiarize yourself with the format ahead of time, whether it's Skype or another virtual platform.
Have a username that is professional. If you already have a Skype account for personal use with a fun and/or silly name, create a new one for interviews. They're free, after all.
Know your location. Is your Wi-Fi up to speed or should you plug into the router directly?
Check the sound. In many cases, headphones or earbuds work best, but they don't look great, so see if your computer's sound is OK without them.
2. Practice with a friend or relative
Because it's near impossible to know what you sound or look like when doing this by yourself, you'll want to run a test call with someone else. Ask how you sound, how you look, and if they can see anything distracting in the background. Then, take their feedback to improve upon any problem areas.
Want to take a more professional approach to your practice interview? Our TopInterview coaches use video chatting to help you prepare for the big interview — and they can make sure you're ready for any and all virtual interviews.
3. Speaking of background, choose your room wisely
Find a place where you can have your interview that is clean and clutter-free, like a home office. If you want to have your certifications on the wall behind you, fine. But overall, you want the focus to be on you — not your surroundings.
4. Plan for privacy
Don't gamble on this one. If you have a pet, plan for it to be in its kennel or out of the house for a bit. Kids? Get a babysitter or have a family member watch them during your interview. Also, plan to have your phone ringer off and try to minimize distracting noises where you can as well. The last thing you want is for your interview to be interrupted when it's completely avoidable.
5. Prepare some notes
This is one of the great things about Skype interviews — and other virtual interviews in general. You can have your resume and some notes, like what questions to ask the hiring manager, right there in front of you. You don't want to stare at them or sound like you are reading off the paper, but you can easily check with them occasionally throughout the interview to keep you on track.
During the interview
1. Look the part
Dress just like you would for an in-person interview; you want to look the part. This means dressing in business attire and choosing your colors carefully. Darker colors usually work better for Skype interviews because the camera tends to brighten things up a bit. So, a bright, bold color could become a lot more than you bargained for once it's showtime. And, yes, you need to wear pants. What if you have to get up for some reason during the interview? You don't want to risk it.
2. Be aware of your body language
You want to make sure you give off the right first impression when you log on for the interview. This means making sure you use the first five to 10 seconds to greet the interviewer or hiring manager with a smile and to exude calm, friendly confidence through your body language.
However, body language isn't just reserved for how you cross or don't cross your legs and for your initial greeting. Your posture, your arms, and even how you hold your head are all parts of body language, and they're all on display during a video interview. Go beyond just having good posture. Use subtle head nods and smiles to show that you're engaged in the conversation. You can even throw in some mild hand gestures (as long as you're not distracting from what you're saying).
3. Make eye contact
Sounds weird, doesn't it? The natural thing to do during a video chat is to look at your screen. That's where the other person is, right? Not really. The other person is seeing you through the lens of your camera, so that's where you should focus your gaze. If it helps, put a little picture of someone you like next to your camera. Pick a family member, friend, your favorite celebrity, or even Beyoncé — whoever works for you. Don't block the camera, but having a friendly face there could help you remember to make eye contact and relax you a little at the same time.
4. Close browsers and other apps
The more things you have running on your computer, the higher the risk of the video freezing up or some pop-up video randomly coming on and interrupting the interview. Trust us, you don't need “Baby Shark” dancing its way into your job interview.
5. Be proactive about tech issues
If your screen freezes or the sound cuts out, don't play it off like it didn't happen. Simply address this issue right away so you and the interviewer can get it resolved. If you try to ignore it, hoping they won't notice, you'll risk missing something or coming off looking very bad. We've all had computer issues; it's not an interview killer if you handle it correctly.
6. Exit gracefully
Just like an in-person interview, you want to leave as smartly as you entered. Have something prepared to say. A simple thank you and a question about next steps work well. Just because you're on screen doesn't mean you have to sign off like you're a talk show host. Let the interviewer shut down their camera first just so you can be certain that you don't miss anything.
After the interview
1. Follow up
Don't forget to send a thank-you email to your interviewer; it doesn't have to be long (and you can even add a few smart follow-up questions to ask if you desire). It's common courtesy and is an easy way to get your name in front of their eyes again in a positive light. Then, after a week or so, follow up with them if you haven't heard back yet.
With these tips, you will ace the video interview — and inch closer to securing the job.
Want to make sure you excel in your next virtual interview? Our TopInterview coaches can help! Learn more about TopInterview.