by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Expert Advice for Job-Seekers in How to Prepare, Manage — and Succeed — in Your Webcam, Skype, Google Hangout, or Facetime Job Interview.
As more employers embrace video and Web-based technologies to conduct screening interviews with prospective job candidates, it becomes increasingly important for you to be prepared as you begin your job-search.
This article covers tips for how to prepare for your interview, how to succeed in your interview, and what to do after the interview.
Before Your Video/Web Interview
1. Determine the Best Hardware to Use. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple devices (such as a computer, tablet, smart phone), choose the one you are most comfortable with — and the one with the most reliable technology. If necessary, invest in purchasing — or borrowing — the best technology to use for the interview.
2. Select the Proper Location for the Interview. The ideal scenario for your interview location is a secluded room in which you can shut out distractions (and noises), control the lighting, and display a generic background. Ideally, you’ll want to have some diffused lighting so as not to create shadows or glare… and a plain wall as your backdrop. You should also have a location in which you can be seen on camera from about the waist up — not just your face.
3. Test All the Technology. Test your connection. Test your camera. Test your lighting. Test your sound. Test the video program. Make sure you understand how it all works.
4. Schedule at Least One Mock Interview. Under as close to identical circumstances as possible, schedule an interview with a friend, colleague, or family member. Practice both your interviewing skills, as well as the technology. If you can, record the interview so you can play it back for yourself. If can’t record it, ask for as much feedback as possible — especially for how you look and sound. (Learn more about the benefits of mock interviews.)
5. Plan for Glitches. Have a backup plan if something goes wrong the day of the interview.
6. Complete Full Interview Preparations. Don’t skimp on your interview prep. Conduct research on the employer, prepare responses to expected interview questions, formulate a few questions you want to ask, and determine the best professional outfit for the interview. (Learn more in this job interview checklist.)
Day of the Web/Video Interview
1. Test All Equipment Prior to Interview Time. Do a run-through at least an hour before your interview time.
2. Dress Professionally. Remember, nothing too flashy. If unsure, view yourself in the monitor. (Learn more about dressing for success in job interviews.)
3. Turn Off Before Interview Starts. Remember to turn off all apps and programs that might interrupt the interview.
4. Go Under. Go to your interview location and shut out all distractions.
5. Remember Your Nonverbals. Make solid eye contact and smile at appropriate times. Have good posture and even lean in a bit. Use hand gestures to make your point. (Learn more about the importance of nonverbals in job interviews.)
6. Look Directly into the Camera. You might be tempted to look at the monitor or yourself, but focus on making eye contact via the camera.
7. Have a Conversation. Speak in a conversational voice, just as you would in an actual interview situation.
8. Notes if You Need Them. Unlike other interview situations, you can have some notes in front of you (off camera) to remind you of critical issues you want to highlight, but do NOT overuse them, or you will look odd on camera.
9. Take a Second. When responding to questions from the interviewer, nod, but take a second before responding in case the connection is weak — so that you don’t end up talking over the interviewer.
After the Interview
1. Write a Thank-You Note. Just as with any other job-hunting situation, follow up your interview with a thank-you note to your interviewer(s). (Learn more in our job-seeker thank-you letter FAQ.)
2. Follow-Up on Progress. The hiring process is a lengthy one, most likely with several more rounds of interviews, so you’ll need to be patient — but that does not mean you should not follow-up occasionally to express your interest in the job. (Learn more about interview follow-up.)
Final Thoughts on Succeeding in Online/Video Job Interviews
If you’re uncomfortable with the technology or how you look/sound on camera, the best you can do is practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, you’ll not only get more comfortable with the technology, but also better at interviewing.
See also our Online, Video Job Interview Do’s and Don’ts For Job-Seekers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Have you taken advantage of all of our job interviewing resources? Find articles, tutorials, and more — all written to help job-seekers learn how to master all types of job interviews.