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Video Interview Tips

1. Look the Part

This is an interview.  You need to dress as if it was in person.  Take some time to polish up. It’s always better to err on the side of freshly-scrubbed.  Assuming your bottom half will be hidden under a desk, you may be tempted to wear your favorite sweatpants, DON’T you need to dress from head to toe. What if you have to stand up to adjust your equipment? There’s also the psychological aspect: Shedding your loungewear will help switch your mind to professional mode.


2. Prepare Your Surroundings

Whether your call is video or telephone, do it in a quiet, businesslike setting, ideally in a room with a door.  Look behind you, because that’s what will be seen. A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea of your organizational skills. A blank wall or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop. Be sure to inform anyone else at home about the meeting; you don’t want to be interrupted by a sudden blast of stereo music or someone bellowing your name.  Feed and walk the dog ahead of time, and call a sitter if you have young children.


3. Practice It First

Your first few video calls are bound to feel awkward as you figure out where to look, what to do with your hands, or how loudly to speak. But it’s easy to work out those kinks ahead of time.  Practice using Skype and repeat the process until you feel comfortable with the result.


4. Don’t Forget to Smile!

At an in-person interview, you’d naturally smile upon arrival, and try to keep a pleasant facial expression for the duration. It’s more difficult to do this with a remote interview. Lacking a ‘live’ person in front of you, and sidetracked by thoughts of equipment or cameras, you might be less likely to smile reflexively. If that’s the case, you can seem like you’re staring wide-eyed at the camera.  Smiling is the best way to break the ice and develop rapport with your interviewer.  Of course, it’s difficult to smile sitting alone in a room. Just before the call, loosen up by smiling before a mirror, or call a friend who never fails to make you laugh. If you need to, hang a silly picture or Post-it note on the wall (out of camera range) to remind you to stay upbeat.


5. Stay Present

Ever heard of active listening? Especially with a phone interview, it’s important to give the other caller periodic clues that you’re still there. After all, do you like speaking into silence?  Interject listening sounds (“hmm,” or “yes”) as your interviewers speak. In addition to making your conversation more pleasant, it also reassures the other party that the technology is functioning correctly and you are, indeed, still listening.  And even though the people can’t see you, never tinker with your computer during a call. Nothing screams “not listening!” like the tapping of a keyboard in the background. Even if other callers are engaging in a side conversation, follow along so you can jump back in as soon as it’s appropriate.


6. Go Ahead and Cheat

One advantage to a video or phone interview is that you don’t have to remember everything you want to mention.  You can have notes in front of you—without your interviewer knowing; place your resume in front of you, news about the company, questions you want to ask and potential talking points.  Of course, you don’t want to be reading off the page verbatim, so make sure you’re familiar with your material, and keep your notes in an easily readable format to get what you need at quick glance.


7. Address Tech Problems Immediately

When you’re relying on video or phone equipment, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a technical glitch: a weak connection, interference or garbled signals.  You may hesitate to draw attention to the problem, but you don’t want to give an inaccurate answer because you didn’t understand the question. A simple “excuse me?” will work fine. But if the problem persists, bring it up.  Tech glitches won’t sink an interview; but how you handle them might. Make sure you have a strong wireless connection before getting on a video call and if you cannot hear the interviewer remember they may still be able to hear you.

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